This might be a little morbid, but please stay with me. Whenever we lose a loved one, we gather together to remember them at their funeral. At this event, I love seeing all the photographs of the person through the years. Sometimes, there will even be a beautiful time-lapse video montage of portraits from when the loved one was a baby all the way (hopefully) into their golden years.
It’s quite remarkable the changes we all go through, the softness of childhood features giving way to the strong, distinctive features of adulthood and back to a different kind of softness in old age.
Portraits have a way of telling the story of our lives, which is why I dove into professional portrait photography.
Now, let’s talk about something very happy: heirloom portraits. Timeless head and shoulder vignettes have been popular for decades and they are still popular today. These traditional portraits will help you hold on to your child’s sweet expressions and preserve their childhood long after they grow up – and it happens fast! The classic vignettes are even more special because all the background “noise” is taken away, leaving you with an intimate and lasting glimpse into the subject.
When should you schedule an heirloom portrait session? The answer is really whenever you feel like your child is ready, but I do have some general guidelines I like to follow along with answering a few questions I typically hear from clients.
Your Heirloom Portrait Guide
Age One: A Major Milestone!
A milestone such as a 1st birthday is an important occasion you want to mark. Your baby has been through so many changes this year. At age one, your baby is able to sit by themselves, is curious about their surroundings, and since language is usually fairly limited, the range of expressions is priceless. An Heirloom Portraits at this age commemorates the monumental shift from baby to toddler.
Ages 1 – 3: The Toddler Years
Toddlers grow increasingly playful, energetic, and expressive, allowing us to capture delightful heirloom portraits at this stage. Toddler facial expressions are often a mix of wonder, delight, and determination. They can go from laughter to serious contemplation in a matter of seconds, providing a wider range of emotional expressions.
Ages 3 – 5: The Preschool Years
Preschool ages are fantastic for heirloom portraits before they lose those sweet little baby teeth. Kids are more independent but still innocent and curious, usually willing to cooperate for pictures and take a little more direction with posing.
Ages 6-12: The Elementary Years
Once in elementary school, children develop definite personalities, begging to be highlighted in portraits for parents to cherish. Annual heirloom portraits ensure you can look back on each chapter.
Whenever You Think They Are Ready
Each child is unique, of course, so I always tell parents a general rule of thumb is when your baby can sit stable for longer periods. You know your child best, so book a session when you feel like they’re ready; you’ll never regret getting a beautiful image of your child, no matter what age they are.
Expressions Composite Heirloom Portraits
You can also display a range of expression in the classic vignette portrait style by collecting 3 or 5 shots into a composite.
Sibling Heirloom Portraits
Once in a while, I’ll have a client inquire about a sibling heirloom portrait. So, instead of one child posing for their portrait, we include two or three siblings to create a stunning group image. What I love about this option is that we get to capture each child individually, of course, as well as their sibling bond. This portrait is a treasure for mom and the children.
Black and White or Color Heirloom Portraits
The classic heirloom portrait is in black and white. However, recently, a client requested a color heirloom portrait. While it’s not following the classic technique, I think it turned out beautifully. The result is a nice blend of a classic technique with a modern touch.
Heirloom Portraits in Washington DC
Embrace the timeless beauty of heirloom portraits. These classic vignette portraits capture your child’s innocence and purity, creating cherished memories that will be passed down through generations. Book your session now to preserve the fleeting moments of your child’s youth in a timeless and elegant style.