What is the Best Age for Heirloom Portraits?


A traditional heirloom portrait of a one year old girl with a serious expression in white with a white bow with a white vignette by Greenville photographer Molly Hensley.

Heirloom portraits are a Southern tradition. An heirloom portrait is a formal portrait taken of young children in front of a white backdrop with a white vignette. These portraits have a long history and can be found on the walls of so many homes and include generations of families. While many people are familiar with this style of portrait, they are definitely a staple in the South. As a Greenville heirloom photographer, I’m sharing some of the details on when to schedule and what to expect during a session!

What age is best for heirloom portraits?

The most ideal age for an heirloom portrait is around 3-4 years old. My top tip is to schedule this session before your child loses their first tooth! However, don’t worry if you missed this stage. When it comes to heirloom portraits, the only rule is that your child must be able to sit up unassisted. The beautiful client featured in this post is one year old. She actually sat in her mother’s lap for this portrait.

If you missed scheduling these portraits when your child was young, you haven’t missed out. These portraits can be scheduled at any age!

A traditional heirloom portrait of a smiling one year old girl with a white vignette by Greenville photographer Molly Hensley.

What to expect during an heirloom session with me

Heirloom sessions with me have two parts. First is the sitting. I set up my lighting, stool, and backdrop and your chid sits for his or her photos. This portion usually takes around 15 minutes while we work to get a few different expressions options. The second part is the ordering. We sit together and look through the unedited images on my laptop to select your favorite expressions. Orders are completely a la carte so you are able to get as much or as little as you like! My studio menu incudes digital images, fine art prints, and custom framing.

These portraits are meant to be framed and hanging on the wall, so the goal is to select which image you want to frame. I bring frame samples so we can select your favorite frame and the size that works best for your home. Some clients also elect to purchase additional digital images if they love different expressions. This client selected both a serious and smiling expression. We selected a beautiful thin gold frame and framed the serious expression in color.

After the session I go home and complete editing on the expressions chosen. Each digital image is delivered in color and black and white via an online gallery and the frame order is placed and delivered within a few weeks.

Below you can see a little behind the scenes of what my setup looks like for an heirloom sitting.

Are you interested in booking an heirloom session?

If you would like more information on Greenville SC heirloom portrait sessions, you can learn more here. To contact me to schedule, you can click here.

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Meet Molly

Molly specializes in family & newborn photography in  Greenville, SC. A former teacher and mother of three, she is known for capturing the joy & love of families.  Photo sessions with Molly turn family memories into artwork for your home and for generations to come.