The “cake shot”. Those two words together just sound naff. Very predictable and just utterly naff. I always favor real and long lasting candid moments over the set up cliches. For me this “cake shot” idea sums everything I am completely against as a reportage wedding photographer. It conjures up dreadfully dull and passive images. For me, this is little more than an antiquated concept. And clearly one that must still happen today. Given the amount of times I’m asked by a hotel manager. And 10 times our of 10 I say no. Some look at me puzzled. But if I say no it’s because the client does NOT want it.
Recently enough, on arriving at a hotel and waiting for the newly weds to arrive, I was asked “are you doing the cake shot?” I could feel my teeth grind, then rolled my eyes and said in no uncertain circumstances that I was not, though I would photograph the room, and the cake might be in the mix. He gave me that Puzzled look.. So, the couple arrive at the hotel. They go to see the room. The newly wedded couple are in great form, totally enjoying the flow of the day. With no set ups. With no messing about. Just doing their own thing.
Anyway, the room looks great, the couple view the room. I’m getting what I need to get. They both are very excited, champagne glasses in hand. Then the manager asks ”Do ye want to do a cake shot?” Right away it seemed to knock the couple out of their stride a bit. I feel like I was talking to myself. They looked awkwardly at me. I gave a look that kinda said “we’re grand. Don’t need this cheese…” The eyes light up in relief, a metaphorical thumbs up of sorts.
This is a scenario that is common enough. I have candid conversations with my clientele and we discuss all aspects of the day, and in a broad but yet causal, laid back manner. The concept is on allowing the day to move in its own unique way. And this idea of a cake shot does not fit the brief. Why? Well, mainly because it’s so boring. Don’t get me wrong. I like boring as long as it’s the right kind of boring…
And I fail to see where it actually fits with my own style of wedding photography as it stops the momentum. And when it comes down to it, those I work for do not require it or even consider it, they never think about it. They know what they want from their wedding day. I can get something that fits, and something that won’t look like a billion other pictures. Instead I’ll work on their reaction, should the moment arrive, and if it doesn’t? There are many other scenes to seek out.
I don’t think anybody sees the “cake shot” as the focal point of the day. Certainly not the awful set up one. There will be other ways. There’s better pictures. And it must be lively enough to fit in with the full day’s set of pictures. I think the above image taken at Garryvoe kind of sums up what can be found.