Positioning a round or tiered cake is simple. Just center it on the paper. Sheet cakes are trickier, since they are long enough that if your camera is tilted even slightly in relation to the cake, the image will look sloppy. To fix this, tilt it toward the camera slightly, so the sides of the cake are deliberately out of alignment with the edges of the frame.

How to Take Cake Photos

If you found this article helpful, please support me and the website by buying my cake sculpture DVD.


3. Positioning

Above: Cake on backdrop. Pretty easy.

Below: Square cake flat on the table.

Below right: Square cake tilted up.

4. Point of View

Zoom in tight. Our background is just blank space, so minimize it. You want to avoid having to crop, especially if your camera has relatively few megapixels (one of mine is a 2.1 M).

The basic viewpoints for shooting are top-down, front, and side. Rarely will using one of these get you a visually engaging shot of the whole cake. They do okay for detail shots, though. Viewing mostly from above (but rarely straight down) is ideal for sheet cakes, where most of the detail is on top. For an overall shot, go with a 3/4 view that suits you best. The most useful by far are high-front and high-front-side, although there are occasional exceptions. Which vantage point you use depends entirely on your cake.

Decent cropping. Background is minimized, but not claustrophobic.

High-front, high-front-side, and low-front views. What does each perspective say about the cake?

5. Camera

Point-and-shoot cameras are fine for posting to web-galleries and forums. If you get really (I mean really) serious about your photos, you could try to get your hands on a DSLR, if you can afford one. All of the photos in this tutorial, however, were taken with a point-and-shoot.

Turn your flash off- it will white out the picture and create all of the shadows we just worked to eliminate in step 2.

If your camera has a manual mode that you know how to use, use settings similar to these:

Aperture: F8 or 11

Shutter Speed: whatever meters properly

ISO: as low as you can get it

White balance: Automatic

Otherwise, automatic mode should get you what you need. If you shoot before sunset, you should have enough light to hand-hold the camera. If you need more light, it will be obvious, because your shutter will open and close very slowly and your picture will be blurry. If this happens, rest your camera on a stack of books or something else handy to steady it. If you finish your cake late at night, substitute a desk lamp for your window by pointing the lamp at the cake and using the lamp exactly the same way as the window. Be warned that the light will be harsher, so you will need to be careful with the reflector.

If you are curious, I have a set of flashes and a pro camera, so here is my typical setup.

How most of my pictures are taken. Both flashes are pointed at corners of the ceiling to bounce and diffuse the light. The one on the right is turned down to avoid overriding the one on the left. (Points if you figure out what I had you use to emulate the light on the right.) Since I can get a lot of light easily, I just handhold the camera. The tripod is to show you where my camera goes.

I hope you found some helpful hints in this tutorial. Keep in mind, most food photography goes basically the same way as with cakes. So go out and take great pictures!