This week I thought we would do a little spotlight on our fabulous Cake Smash Sessions! Now I’m not ashamed to say that both Orli and myself have already planned Belle and Flo’s first Birthday Cake smash. Over eager I hear you say? Well you’d be wrong…


It blows my mind how fast my little girl is growing in front of my eyes. I cling to those precious newborn photographs of her so tiny, sleeping and perfect. I cannot believe she is so big already. I know our time is so fleeting and the irony of me running my own photography studio is that truthfully, before now I didn’t appreciate how special photographs of our children actually become.


So there you go, I know well in advance that I am going to want to remember her first birthday, I want to remember her little face full of glee and mischief, her little hands exploring textures and tastes. I will be there in that moment, but I want to see it up on my wall, to make my heart sing whenever those troublesome toddler days are upon us…


Pinterest is bursting with ideas for Cake Smash! Do you know you can make pretty much anything yourself? Tassel garlands, Pom-poms, Ice Cream balloons. Pinterest is absolutely ALIVE with colour and theme inspiration and completely full of tutorials and how-to’s some of which I have linked below to get your crafty hats on for your own cake smash session:








So how does it all work? How do we turn these crazy ideas into real life shoots? Well it all begins with a good old chin-wag where we talk about you and your little ones most favourite things! We have loads of fabulous coloured backdrops to set the scene for the smash. I was talking to a lovely mum last week about doing a nautical themed cake smash, as her son is boat mad! We have a beautiful blue backdrop that this would look perfect on! Coupled with some white starfish and hessian anchor bunting with blue and white balloons scattered around and of course a wavy boat cake, he will have the perfect setting.


We have a range of props and bunting at the studio that we are happy to theme your session with. Or if you really want to push the boat out (excuse the pun) then feel free to bring in as many crazy and amazing props and accessories as you like. We usually ask for these the day before your session so that we can style your cake smash to create a totally bespoke look. A cohesive theme will guarantee an amazing sequence of images from your session that you can proudly hang in your home.


What should your little ones wear on the day? Well it’s going to get pretty messy!!! So bringing your best party outfit might not be cake-smash friendly. Here’s a great list of outfit ideas for your cake smash! Not gender specific I might add!

Tutu- colour complimenting and with or without a vest

Tutu dress

Frilly Knickers- great for those crawling away shots at the end!

Pearls, Tiaras, Crowns, headbands and birthday hats!

Bow Tie or coloured tie and funky pants

Themed leggings and birthday hat

Braces and cute shorts

Places like Etsy are great for custom cake smash sets and accessories!


Now what’s a cake smash without a cake? In our sessions we give you a few options, for those bake-off inspired clients, why not have a go yourselves.? We are happy to loan out our giant cupcake mold. Go for bright colours, pastel colours, two tones, rainbow sponge; the sky is the limit! Don’t forget the soft butter icing which is easy for your little one to really get stuck into. If baking is not your thing, rest assured we can commission our fabulous cake maker to make something bespoke to match your theme, delivered to us on the morning of your smash- totally hassle free for you! The session itself is an explosion of cake! Fun, exploration, tastes and clapping! There is rarely a cake smash session that goes by where I’m not still discovering cake somewhere on me at 10pm that evening!!! We can start by capturing a lovely family photograph of everyone together on your little one’s special day. Many parent’s actually incorporate the smash on their little one’s actual birthday, kicking off the birthday celebrations. This is the perfect way to treat your birthday bubbas! We sing happy birthday and delight in capturing those first reactions when your little one see’s a giant cake!



Tips for a great smash! 


For those doing BLW (Baby led weaning) your baby may already enjoy getting messy, for some babies it can be a new experience which you can help them enjoy by having a few messy days at home before your session. If your little one is not a fan of getting messy we still find with lots of singing and a relaxed atmosphere they can enjoy digging into the cake with one of our colorful spoons and with a helpful hand from mum or dad. It’s always hilarious when we have a little one decide to go head first into the cake and it makes for a great shot! Please do not worry about your little one actually eating too much cake, we ensure that this doesn’t happen, though its always advisable baby has a good meal and drink beforehand and that you also bring a drink for your baby after your session. Apart from that you can leave the magic to us!


Your cake smash session doesn’t end there! We have to get your little one de-caked and what better way than to enjoy bubbly bath time fun with bubbles and splashing! ? We will fill up our vintage tub and once you have washed your little one clean, we will then capture an adorable bath time sequence and cuddly towel shots – I know many of our friends have hung these Photographs around their bathroom and they look amazing!

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Cake Smash sessions take place during the week so that we can ensure we have time to prepare and style your shoot and are booked up to a year in advance, so don’t delay in scheduling your session with us now, allowing plenty of planning time! They really are a fantastic way to celebrate your little one’s very special Birthday! If you missed it the first time round, a cake smash session can be enjoyed at any age and stay tuned for our very first JELLY Smash with 2 year old Jacob coming soon……that’s right I did say earlier, the sky is the limit in our studio…..

Give us a call today to discuss your ideas! And as a HAPPY BIRTHDAY to all of your special little bubbas enjoy a complimentary 10×8″ photograph when mentioning our Cake Smash Blog when you book,

valid until the end of August!

Cate xxx

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  • August 19, 2016 - 5:12 am

    Charlotte Hornblow - Hi, my baby turns one on Christmas Eve. Do you do sessions on this day? Also do you do payment plans for the photos?ReplyCancel

Ok. Flo is in bed and i’ve just finished my gourmet meal of a Dominos take away. I can finally sit and write to you all!

Hello!!!! Last time I wrote I was fat and fed up….still fat, HAHAHA. 14 Weeks ago today my life changed forever when I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. 6lb 9oz of pure perfection, I fell in Love instantly. You were all right, all the pain and everything that came in the 5 days beforehand was worth it. I’ll save the labour chat for another post! So firstly, let me introduce you to

Florence Rose Dwyer O’Donnell


She looks just like her father, as everyone keeps telling me. Our newborn shoot was amazing. It’s utterly surreal to photograph your own baby. Which I did for a few shots as I just couldn’t help myself. I now understand how all you tired mums feel- you go superwomen!!! It was frankly an achievement to have left the house on day 6 before 12 o’clock and to be honest sitting back whilst Orli photographed her was probably the most rest I had in those 6 days. (Highly recommend- perhaps we could rename our sessions to ‘Your baby rocks and you rest’!?)



So how is the studio and our other little Rose, Belle doing? Ruth has done an incredible job at the studio and I’m sure by now many of you will have met and enjoyed a shoot with her. I absolutely love seeing all the beautiful photographs light up my newsfeed! How I miss shooting all the super cute bubbas and families! Though I have to say I have been filling my camera with photographs of Florence. I didn’t realise how much every little expression would mean to me! One thing is for sure and that is how precious my newborn photographs are, I look at them now and think I cannot believe how small she was just 14 weeks ago. She has grown so much. Another blossoming little bubba is Belle and seeing the two babies together was beyond adorable! I can’t imagine the trouble the two of them will get up to!



Belle is just 6 months and is now crawling, meaning Orli’s playzone just grew a whole lot bigger! She’s even started standing! She’s enjoying solids now too trying everything from sweet potato to carrot, broccoli, bananas and pears and has even had the joy of some chicken soup from Nana! She’s holding her arms out to be picked up and laying on her back is far too boring and has mastered rolling over and manoeuvring a leg round to sit herself up. She treated Orli by saying ‘MAMADADDA’ for the first time last week. I’m sure you have seen a few sneak peeks on our facebook wall and it’s so obvious to see she is a happy bouncing beautiful girl. I’m so excited for Florence to be able to play too!


I wanted to make this post an introduction to Florence and an update about Belle and the studio but also to talk to all you expectant first time mums and pass on some of my wisdom. (Well at least some of the stuff I’ve learned in 14 weeks) I did the signature NCT course and met a group of 5 other superwomen (Really do recommend) There is nothing like being thrown into a world that is utterly Alien to you and these 5 women have become my lifeline. We have become each others support and our whatsapp chat group looks like an episode of sex and the city meets cbeebies meets doctors meets Gillian Mckeith’s poo examination (and who doesn’t want to discuss if green poo is normal at 3am?)



So here’s a quick rundown of some of the things I have learned so far. I am breastfeeding so some is related.

(with thanks to the superwomen for helping)

*Breastfeeding can be hard. There is support out there beyond midwives and health visitors. Use the breastfeeding drop in clinic and look up your local IBCLC if you are struggling. With support you are more likely to be able to continue breastfeeding as long as you want to. Remember however you feed your baby, there is no wrong or right it is whatever works for you.

*You will cry. A lot. (but it’s ok)

*Babies sleep a lot at first- make the most of it, rest, rest, rest.

*Instead of presents, ask someone to bring you lunch, or cake, Cake makes everything better.

*White noise is amazing- (You don’t necessarily need Ewan- try 12 hours white noise on youtube, or an old radio tuned to static- thank me later)

*Tongue Tie – breastfeeding should be a little tender and sore at first but severe discomfort; badly damaged nipples or a baby that loses quite a bit of weight can indicate tongue-tie. Trust in a lactation consultant. Flo’s tt was missed by everyone, from health visitors to senior midwives. I recommend private practitioners that can be found on www.tongue-tie.org.uk. I personally recommend Lorraine and Nina at feeding first in Sutton.

*Don’t push yourself. Go out when you are ready – but don’t be afraid! One of the best things I did in the early weeks was a babymoon- google it! I remember texting Orli in tears one day after Craig (my support system) returned to work, because it was 1pm, I was still I my pjs and I had only managed to eat a banana all day. Remember It’s ok, Tomorrow is another day.

*If you haven’t got a close group of mum friends, try going to some of the coffee and play mornings- there are lots in Surbiton- such as Gymboree, which Belle loves.

*For the dads, this really rang true for me:

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”

-Theodore Hesburgh



Try not to over analyse everything, your baby will do things at his or her own pace. We are all doing our best. This time is fleeting, it’s ok to feel rubbish about it or elated about it. However it’s important to get help if you are feeling low all the time. The most important thing is to ask for help if you need it, you are not alone. So I leave you with massive mamma hugs- you go superwoman, (and super dads) you are doing a great job!

UNTIL NEXT TIME! Cate (& Flo) xxx


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So, I really didn’t think this would come around so quickly. Oh my God i’m having a baby. I’m leaving to have a baby. Is this really happening?!? I’m soooo excited to meet her and sooooo scared too. To all of the mummies who have been into the studio giving me all your tips and advice (the lists have been endless) The flannels and straws are packed- THANK YOU! from the bottom of my heart. I have listened to your stories in awe and if I can do a job as half as good as you all I will be a very happy lady!

I had my Location Maternity photo shoot with Orli on Wednesday. I had always dreamed about having bump shots in the spring blossom, and it has felt like an absolute age for it to arrive! We had literally 10 minutes of beautiful evening light and then the heavens opened. Did this matter? Hell no!  Craig pushed Belle (luckily covered cosy in her pram) whilst Orli got soaked shooting me, whilst I dodged the bees in the blossom. Can you tell in the final images?- definitely not.



I am over the moon with them, needless to say at the moment currently feeling like a walrus 24/7 my feet and hands resemble a trolls and getting out of bed in the morning is akin to a tortoise trying to roll over after landing on it’s shell. Seeing the photographs afterwards certainly made me feel amazing, it was like an instant mood lift. I cannot recommend having bump pictures enough, though it may be the last thing on your mind right now, I know I will look back on them and adore them always.


Of course while the blossom looked so beautiful how could I not capture Belle and Orli together (especially as the two of them had put up with the weather just for me) so I managed to grab a few beautiful shots of the two of them together. This reminds me, now really is the time to book in your location session with us. The parks are alive with bluebells and blossom, spring is definitely here and I don’t want to jinx it but the warmer days seem to be creeping in!


So what is happening with the studio whilst I have my baby (Oh my God I just said it again!!!)  and Orli is still being a brilliant mum to Annabelle? Becoming parents is something that we have always dreamed about but Rock and Rose will always be our first baby and therefore we have entrusted someone responsible and lovely in equal measure to run the studio whilst we master this whole parenthood thing. Ruth has been working at Barrett and Coe Photography studio in Kingston for the past 4 years and has stacks of experience shooting families and children of all ages (She also has a licentiate from the Masters Photography Association don’t you know?) and from now on she is your go to gal for all your photography enquiries.


Orli will be returning part time to shoot our newborn sessions and from June will be back in the studio on a more regular basis. I know that since we opened you have continued to support our small business and we ask that you do this now more than ever. So tell your family and friends about your experience with us and keep sharing all of the lovely photographs we have captured for you!

So this is it, I’m signing off  *don’t get scared now* Keep me in your thoughts and i’m sure Orli will update you once we have finally got to meet our baby girl!!!

Until next time……

Cate xxx

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So this week brought me the pleasure of meeting Stacey Richard, founder of local (lifesaving) business Surbiton Sitters and her rather beautiful daughter Maxine. It’s lovely to meet local mums in business so I thought I would take a few minutes out to find out more about her and her company Surbiton Sitters who provide ‘dependable short term childcare for your little ones in Surbiton, the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and across South West London’




Stacey set up Surbiton Sitters after years of helping family and friends to support and look after their little ones to which she confesses was mostly spent just “having fun with the children!” When her daughter Maxine was born she said it “changed everything” Stacey wanted to stay at home with her and she often found herself called upon to help look after friends little ones in need of flexible care.

“the business just started out with me helping one friend and then another friend and then a friend of a friend and then a friend told another friend and so the business grew”





Stacey works around the clock, 365 days a year so she can be there as emergency support to a family that may need her services. ” I worked on Christmas eve, when a little baby was born and I stayed at the family home looking after the couple’s other children” This pregnancy service can be an absolute lifesaver to those whose families live far away or who may not have any friends that are able to step in at any moment. Whether it’s for a few hours or for a few days Stacey aims to help support families by providing flexible childcare. It may be as simple as a few hours crossover between catching that last train home from work, or a last minute appointment that can’t be rescheduled.

Maxine had lots of fun in the studio, hopping around with her bunny and popping bubbles. It was lovely to watch Stacey with her as you can see how much passion and energy is put into play. When I asked Stacey to tell me what kinds of activities she does with the children in her care she told me enthusiastically:

‘I love arts and crafts, finger painting, sticking and gluing buttons and beads, going outside to the park, to swimming classes and dance classes, feeding the ducks and just to play…that’s the main part of my job to play!”


Stacey currently covers most of our local area including Surbiton, Kingston, Berrylands, Long Ditton, Thames Ditton, Claygate and Esher and many more as well as further into South West London.  Such is the success and demand for her help she now has 10 other mummies working with her including previous “childminders, nannies and nursery staff” who are all working around their own family lives to provide support for other mums and families in need. Stacey is CRB checked, First Aid trained and fully insured and she tells us she has a “huge collection of travel cots and car seats too!”

“Theres nothing fancy or formal, i’m just a mum helping other mums”

If you’d like to find out more about Surbiton Sitters please take a look at Stacey’s website: http://www.surbiton-sitters.co.uk/home

Cate xxx

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So I received a text on Christmas Eve from Orli saying her obstetrician had bet her £1 she would be in labour by Christmas day.  I was just finishing a very big plate of Christmas dinner when my phone buzzed and I realised it was Orli’s mum letting me know it would be “tonight or tomorrow” I suddenly felt a rush of panic. I have no idea why, maybe partly because we’d talked for so long about the actual birth and here it was actually happening. I dreamed of Orli all night Christmas night, I dreamt we were at a wedding and her waters broke and I had to get her to the hospital. I think part of me also suddenly thought this will be me in 4 months time.

At around 11am boxing day morning my phone buzzed again and there she was, beaming up at me,  such a beautiful baby, absolutely perfect, masses of brown hair and her name, Annabelle Grace born on Boxing day at 00.26 am weighing 7lbs 0.6oz. Orli was doing well and her and Rob were absolutely over the moon. Now I did realise that despite arriving bang on her due date, we had planned for a bit of a rest over Christmas (at least I was) and Annabelles prompt arrival meant that I would be back in the studio sooner than I had planned! (Annabelle if you are reading this in a few years time- I of course forgive you and pretty much couldn’t wait for a cuddle anyway plus this didn’t really feel like ‘work’ to me)

So here she is- Our first addition to the Rock and Rose Family- Annabelle Grace

Website1She doesn’t stop smiling by the way- a very contented baby! I must admit Annabelle has been the first newborn I felt nervous about photographing. After all Orli knows what she likes and i’m not gonna lie I felt the pressure! I managed to shoot the first few shots and a few in-between but Orli couldn’t resist shooting some images herself. So for a lot of our session I took on the role of spotter, shusher and positioner. Orli took a few shots of me positioning and gently shushing Annabelle to sleep which you can see below.




So during any of our full newborn sessions there is always time for a chat! (In between feeds and Nappy changes) I had to ask Orli about her experience. So I gather she spent all of Christmas day in Labour and all she could manage was half an Orange Kit Kat. Apparently her mum bought in a Roast for Rob and she tells me he ate it in front of her. (He even complained there were no pigs in blankets as he’d been given figs in blankets- though in the end he thought they were nice) As you can imagine I don’t think Orli was too amused. She tells me at least she wasn’t in too much pain at that point (lucky you Rob) but it didn’t last long. I asked her to sum up the whole thing for me and she said this:

“Annabelle is so special, I feel like i’m the only person who’s had such a miracle happen,

really weird when it’s the most natural thing in the World, but to me she’s a miracle.

The love you feel straight away is phenomenal.

Rob is besotted and at first he just sat there watching her in her crib like all of us.

Of course, she came out as the perfect model for her Rock and Rose Mums, well mum and Aunty”



It has been such a joy to take Annabelles first photographs and to have her here in the studio. When Orli first walked in and I saw her tiny and bundled up in her car seat I cried like a child. I feel like I journeyed Orli’s pregnancy with her, from all the things I am going through now to seeing her baby in real life is just beyond incredible. And how did time fly!!!  I will share a few more images from the session before we do a full sneak peek.

Orli and Rob, I know you will be amazing parents, I can see it in every cuddle and every word you speak to her. I can see it in your eyes.

I will leave you with a quote that pretty much says it all- Cate x

“Before you were born I carried you under my heart.

From the moment you arrived in this world until the moment I leave it,

I will always carry you in my heart.”

 Mandy Harrison

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