I’ve been a photographer now for about 28 years, and I often get asked what are the best ages to get portraits of your children. In fact some of the children that I photographed years ago as babies are now adults with their own children! That’s such a beautiful situation where there’s another generation coming through. As adults they now tell me that looking back at all the milestones we captured of them when they were young is still so very precious. They can now compare their milestones to those of their little babies.
Portraits capture milestones
One young man that I photographed in Northern New South Wales many years ago now has three kids of his own. I went to his house when he was just born, and we took the most beautiful portrait of his mother holding him. He was naked, and the mother was holding him in her arms, showing off the difference of size and weight. He was asleep, and it was just beautiful. And now he has captured the same thing with his children. At a later time we did photographs of him when he was able to sit up, and his expression and personality were so different.
When people get to see milestones, such as when they’re new-born babies, they can enjoy how different they look. For example, when they’re just sitting up, their personalities change, they begin to smile, and their little teeth start showing. They’ve got lovely memories of their milestones.
Nature is one of the best backgrounds for a portrait
I once photographed a lot of babies around the base of a gorgeous fig tree, and one particular baby wasn’t quite sitting up, but she was holding herself up. We popped up behind the fig tree buttress root, and she was hanging on and looking so proud of herself. She looked up and grinned with her little teeth, and it was the most beautiful portrait. It seems the moment they realize they can hold themselves up and stand up a little bit is a magnificent time.
When babies are halfway between one and two and they start running and giggling, that’s a tricky time. They now can run away and have lots of fun and giggles, and they also have their escapes. I remember a funny time when I had a dad in one particular portrait with his little girl who just kept running ‘cause she was so excited about being able to run. He had to just pick her up, tickle her, and put her back under the tree. I think the dad got a big workout on that portrait session because he was running and picking her up and dragging her back to the tree and running and picking her up and making it fun. I mean, what a beautiful portrait I have now of her cheeky smile around that tree.
How to deal with the difficult ages
The most difficult age to photograph a child is usually between three and four because that’s when they become independent, but they’re still too young to know they are. So I encourage you to take the photos anyway, but don’t be surprised if the children are not, you know, peaceful and cooperative. If you play with them and get them in the right mood, get them fed, calm, and happy, and doing something that they love, you will be able to catch those years.
So when are the Best Ages to Get Portraits of Your Children?
Some families just don’t do anything until the children are about five because it’s such a challenge, but by then they’ve missed all those cheeky little personalities, the first teeth coming out, learning to walk, and the chubby cheeks. It really is a beautiful age.
When children turn six years old and are going to school and starting to lose their teeth, that’s also a beautiful milestone. As soon as my children lost their teeth, I would take beautiful portraits of them. They had big grins on their faces and with their teeth missing the portrait was very lovely.
(to be continued in Part 2… the primary school, pre-teen and teenage years…)
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