I was super excited when Cole's mom called me to book his Epic Cake Smash! His big sister was "Iris in One-derland" for my first Epic Cake Smash. I couldn't wait to create another set for this family! And it had to be at least as good as One-derland, if not better...which was a tall order because that set is still one of my favorites.
Mom knew she wanted a space theme, but other than that she was leaving it mostly up to me. We brainstormed some ideas during the consultation and she sent me his party invitation for inspiration. Originally I wanted him to be on a Mars mission, but when my custom backdrop wasn't going to arrive in time, I had to make his space journey a little shorter. We had to settle for a moon walk.
I used a starry sky background that I already had and added some plastic stars left over from my own son's space themed birthday party. I painted a decent looking Earth on a large piece of paper so that it would look like Cole was on the surface of the moon looking back at his home planet. My moon surface was created from a grey seamless paper backdrop that I crumpled for texture and then dry brushed with light and dark grey acrylic paint. I added "moon rocks" from my son's toy dinosaur set. I really wanted the lighting to be a little bit dark and space-like, but I still wanted to be able to see Cole clearly and not make it scary. I decided on draping some sheer purple fabric over the umbrella on my strobe. That way I had the color I wanted, but it wasn't too dark.
The rocket ship was carved from a piece of white foam core and painted, then I taped a strip of wood trim to the back to keep it from bowing and used a scrap piece of foam core to make it stand up. The "C" and number one were paper mache from a craft store that I painted. I had a lot of fun spraying the "C" with white paint to create stars! At the end of the session, Cole got to take the "C" home with him...after I wiped all the frosting off it, of course.
The cake was inspired by his party invitation. I sent it to my cake designer, Melanie, and she created our little alien perfectly. She used balls of fondant on straws for the antennae and painstakingly piped his fur with buttercream. The UFO cake stand was built by my awesome business manager, Jim, after discussing the design together. I added the "lights" to the cake board and paper arms so our little alien could drive his ship.
At first, Cole didn't know what to think. I mean, he suddenly found himself on the moon next to an alien, who wouldn't be a little freaked out? The very first shot of him he looks a little scared. It is one of my favorite images. He had so many amazing expressions, it's impossible to pick just one favorite.
He wasn't sure of the cake itself, but the buttercream fur had hardened a little and he discovered that it made a really awesome sound when it hit the paper floor. We had to give him a little encouragement to actually eat some of it. He kept looking over at his parents like he was waiting for them to tell him no. There was a lot of cheering and clapping going on.
Eventually, he did start to have fun, though. And then, just like that...he was done. Bye bye see ya later, I'm out. And he crawled away. Ok...time for your bath, then!
We were a little anxious about the bath. When Cole's sister did her bath after her cake smash, she screamed the whole time. All we got were shots of her being very unhappy. So we were a little nervous when we lowered Cole into the water. His first reaction was to start to pout and we thought, "oh here we go again". But then he must have decided it wasn't so bad. We got some adorable smiles...and some splashes.
Epic Cake Smash sessions are definitely my favorite sessions. I pour my heart and soul into the design and creation of the sets and drive my cake designer insane, ask for impossible custom props from Jim the night before the shoot and stay up until all hours of the night with last minute inspirations. Cole made this one, without doubt, worth every second.
Every year we go pick pumpkins with my in-laws and every year I get some of my most favorite images of my son and husband. This year was no exception. Actually, this year was even better because not only was there a thick fog that made the landscape gorgeous, but Oliver acually posed for me!
This past June I teamed up for the second year with two other local photographers for the Mini Sessions for Kindness to raise money for Regan's Acts of Kindness. We held the event at Upper Onondaga Park in Syracuse, which is one of my absolute favorite locations.
Regan's Acts of Kindness is a local charity that was born out of tragedy. In 2017, at the age of 3, Regan Shetsky was killed by a car in the parking lot of her preschool. I remember reading the news that week and crying, even though I had never met the Shetsky family. I couldn't imagine what they were going through. Instead of giving in to their grief, the Shetskys found the strength and love to create a way to spread joy and kindness in their daughter's name. Regan's Acts of Kindness has transformed the Central New York community, and has even touched people as far away as Florida, California, and even Bermuda. I can't think of a better use of my time and talent than to raise funds for such an amazing cause.
All of this year's families were amazing and we had so much fun.
This is a quick tutorial for clients on how to navigate their client gallery.
I had the absolute pleasure this spring of photographing my son's best friend from preschool along with her mom and big sister. I loved spending time with all of them and getting to know the family better. Oliver was taken with Makenna the very first week of school and she has been special to him (and me) ever since.
When I decided to start offering the Special Smiles Sessions, I did some research online to see if there were any classes I could take to help me photograph kids with disabilities better. That's when I learned about Special Kids Photography of America. I started the process of becoming accredited with them and needed to submit images as part of my application. I thought of the Manning family right away. I knew Makenna would be a joy to photograph, and I was so right!
Cassandra Zingaro - photographer, mom, wife, owner of HeartStrings Photography and first time blogger