What Message Are You Sending Your Clients With Your Photos?

Small potatoes cut in half with parsley in foreground

When someone visits your website, what do they see? Do they see clear pictures and text that easily tells them exactly what you do? Are you photos professionally done? Let’s look at your “About” page. Does it tell them how you can help them further their business? Does it even include a picture of you and/or your staff?

What do your photos tell your clients?

Photos on your website and around your physical business help determine the success of your brand. By having high resolution, high quality photos, that truly demonstrate what your brand is about, you prove to your clients that you are high quality and worth the investment. The opposite is true. If you have dark, low resolution, photos that are lacking action, your company will be seen as sloppy, and not worth working with. Perception is HUGE! That is why it is so important to give a lot of thought to your imagery.

Red headed man with hand in pocket and smoke in the background

What do your photos say about you?

What is your company about?

The first thing you need to think through is “what your company is truly about?” Are you a motivational speaker and travel around giving seminars? Are you a farm who specializes in lavender products? Whatever you do, make sure that is easily definable on your website, and in what you say to people when they ask what you do for a living. A great way to do this is to have photos on your front page of what you do best.

yogurt and granola with blueberries and strawberries on top of and around it.

What do you sell and why?

Who is your target market?

The next thing to think about is “Who is your target market?” If you are a lavender farmer, you likely are targeting women who love to use natural products, buys organic produce, and enjoy long baths with lavender scented salt. (Do you see just how specific that is?) Knowing this information, what photos do you portray? Likely, you start with photos of a woman holding a large bunch of lavender as she stands out in the field as the sun is going down. Are you getting the idea? A photo like that gives the impression that whoever buys your product can look just as beautiful and happy as the woman portrayed.

Lakeside fire pit with boat dock in distance

What do your potential clients do?

Do you have a headshot that truly tells your story?

A final thing to consider is having great photos of you and your team. This can show your clients that you are professional and you take your business seriously. It’s also important to begin telling your story. So whether you decide to hire a professional or do it yourself, check out this FREE handy guide for getting ready for your headshot photos.

Cover of Headshot style guide

If you take the time to define these three topics for your business, and then find photos that bolster your message you will soon stand high above your competition. Good luck and if these tips help you let me know! I’d love to hear from you. You can find me on Instagram at @vanessa.thurgood.photography

For more information on this topic visit these other great resources.

12 Things You NEED For Your Next Family Photo


12 Things


Family photos can be complete chaos and full of unhappy people, but they DON’T HAVE TO BE!  Take off some of the stress by following these simple tips.

  • Coordinate your colors.  This is very important as it allows good flow in your photo and helps ensure one person does not sticks out.  Check out my Pinterest board for color palettes.


A couple stands in front of an old cabin in the woods

  • Choose a specific style of clothing.  If this will be a formal photo, consider wearing button up shirts with slack or skirts.  If it is a casual photo, you can wear dark jeans with a nicer top.  Just make sure everyone knows the plan and is comfortable in what they will be wearing.
  • Avoid wearing shorts unless it is specific to the theme for your photos. The lightest part of a photo is what usually catches our attention first and if you are anything like me, your skin is naturally pretty light.  Keep the attention on your face and away from your legs by wearing long pants.  *If you are wear a skirt, consider wearing darker nylons.
  • Wear shirts with 3/4 sleeves or longer.  This follows the same rule as #2.  If you want to keep the focus on your face, cover your arms.  Low necked blouses can also be a problem.  Skin attracts the eyes.   Avoid shirts with extreme patterns or character t-shirts.  These can detract from the photo.
  • Consider layering your clothing as well.  This can add variety to your photos as well as keep you warm or cool, depending on the season.
  • Pay attention to socks and shoes! This might not be something you normally think about, but the shoes will make or break the outfit.  You shoes need to match the tone of your clothing.  Usually black or brown shoes do quite well.  But don’t forget the socks! White socks will stick out just as bad as bare skin, so consider wearing black or another dark color of sock.  If you sit down in any of your photos, you will thank me.

Woman with hand on cheek softly looking at camera. full color with a warm tone.

  • Women: coordinate hairstyles.  This might seem a bit odd, but think about it.  If one person has their hair up while the rest have it done, that person will stick out.  Decide among your party and then stick with it. Avoid hats.  They tend to cover too much of the face.
  • Make-up should be clean, but a little heavier than your usual day-wear.  This will help your eyes pop in the photos.
  • Be prepared for close ups.  I shoot individuals as well as the full group.  This way you have several options to hang on your wall.  So consider putting on lotion on dry hands or getting a great skin care routine going and exfoliate regularly so that your foundation doesn’t get cakey.
  • Bring supplies to revive hair and make-up.  This is especially important if we are doing a session in the middle of summer or it becomes windy during our time together.
  • Jewelry and accessories should be kept simple.  Avoid chunky necklaces or large bows.  Remember the focus needs to be you and your family.  Not your attire.
  • Plan to arrive about 10 minutes prior to your scheduled session.  This will allow for traffic problems, bad weather, or wardrobe problems as you are on your way.

I look forward to seeing you at our session!


Want more help with prepping for Family Photos? Check this post out.

Are Family Pictures Hoaky or Memorable?

June marks the beginning of summer for most families as school lets out.  If you are like my family, there are at least two reunions we go to every summer.  Not to mention weddings, pool parties, and Sunday dinners.

However, with all that family gathering, when was the last time your family actually had their picture taken together?  And I’m not talking about that group wedding photo that you can hardly identify yourself in.  No.  I’m talking about a photo where everyone is easily visible and looking at the camera.  It’s likely been a few years (or decades) since your family took a nice photo together. 

Why is that?

Most of us feel self-conscious about some part of our selves.  We have imperfections.  ALL OF US DO.

This acknowledgment of imperfections, however, may not be enough to make getting your photo taken any easier.  So what is a person to do? (If you struggle with being self-conscious in photos check this out).

Another reason family photos may be hard for you is because you feel that having those stiff, posed images don’t really convey who your family is, and you are likely right!  Stiff awkward poses don’t tell your families stories.

A Solution to the Dilemma…

One of the biggest ways you can help your family achieve better pictures is to

  1. Coordinate clothing to some level.  When your family has on a similar color or style, your photos look more professional.  Some colors that work well are varying shades of blue, purples, and tan.  These neutral colors allow your faces to be seen clearly without being overpowering. 
  2. Communicate with your photographer about your family.  What are your likes, dislikes, your flavor of personality, and especially if someone is shy or really goes out of their way to hide when the shutter button is pressed.
  3. Allow enough time for your photos.  If you are looking for just one large photo, you can expect it to take anywhere from 15-30 minutes.  If you are going to break out into smaller groups or do individual shots, allow more time (1-2 hours). Don’t plan major things for right after your photo session so that everyone can relax and enjoy their time mingling together. 
  4. Consider having music.  Music allows us to relax, find a rhythm, and who knows, maybe it will turn into a dance party! 
  5. Finally, encourage everyone to show up on time, but if you have family members who are perpetually late, consider doing individual/immediate family photos first.  This will allow those individuals time to arrive without holding anyone up too long. (Or a trick we used in my family was to tell the tardy ones to arrive thirty minutes earlier so they got there on time. 


This summer, consider making it memorable by having a great family photo taken where everyone enjoys the experience, even Dad.

Book now and save the date!

Family Photo near a lake with young children.


What Does Your Smile Say About You?

Good Afternoon and welcome back to the Vanessa Thurgood Photography blog.  I was blown away by the response to last week’s post.  I think it may be safe to say that we all struggle at times with how we view ourselves.  Yet, I feel it is important to be reminded  that no matter what stage of life we are at, we are beautiful.

In last week’s post, I asked you to take a short quiz to check in with yourself.  How did you score?  Did you remember to write down A. A. Milne’s quote? If so, how did it help you?  Leave me a comment!


This week, I want to focus on how we smile.  A smile is one of the most contagious, and universal physical signs we make.  A smile can help you feel happier, healthier, and more relaxed.  Even a fake smile can substitute until you can give a genuine one.

Groom kissing bride on cheek

As I have continued in my career as a photographer, I find that there are a wide variety of smiles out there.  A relaxed individual smiles easily, while someone who is nervous or stressed has a very tight smile.  Other reasons someone may not smile is due to a  real or perceived imperfection in said smile.

To be truthful though, in many cases our imperfections are what make us special.  Few people likely have had as many stitches on their face as I experienced as a child. (Word to the wise with three-year olds, don’t let them pull any strange dog’s tail).  I have a rather large scar on my lower right jaw and upper lip where I was bit by a dog.

Do you want to know something, though? If I smile, those scars disappear, (as do my eyes on occasion if I smile big enough).  Those scars help create who I am, but they do not hold me back.  I have been told by people that they didn’t even notice I had a scar until I point it out.

Self Portrait of Photographer


If you have the time, check out this 7.5 minute TED Talk on smiling.  It does a wonderful job at explaining why it is so important to smile.


So next time you are getting your photo taken, remember to smile!


What Can Happen with a Sprinkle of Confidence? Only You Can Tell Us.

Today is Wednesday.  It’s the middle of the week and this can either be exciting or it can feel like drudgery that you still have two more work days to go before the weekend.  Does this seem to happen often?  Although we may occasionally have our downs, my hope is that you will find more joy in your journey through life.

Elderly Woman sitting in a chair and Laughing

Now this is probably not a post you would expect to see on a photography website, but hang in there with me.  The way we feel about ourselves comes through in our photographs.  If you are constantly stressed, it is hard to give a pretty, open smile to someone behind the camera. Plus, it’s hard on you in general when you don’t relax and smile and laugh from time to time.  So let’s dive in.

(Disclaimer: This post does contain affiliate links for which I may receive a small percentage of anything you may purchase.)

Time for a Check-up!

Now I would like you to get a piece of paper and something to write with.  We are going to do a check up on how you feel about yourself, and be honest!  The only one who is going to see these answers will be you.

(1=very poor; 10=very positive)

  1. On a scale of 1-10, how much confidence do you have in your own natural abilities?
  2. On a scale of 1-10, how do you feel about the way you look?
  3. When was the last time you spoke positively about yourself?
  4. How do you feel you look in photographs?
  5. Is there anything that stands out to you in photographs that you wish you could change?
  6. On a scale of 1-10, how often do you genuinely smile?
  7. When you shake someone’s hand, do you look them in the eye?
  8. When was the last time you did something that impressed you?
  9. Do you feel you can speak to others easily?
  10. What do you love most about yourself?

Now, review your answers.  Did they show you anything surprising?

Now take a minute and view this wonderful video from Dove.  You may have seen it from one of their campaigns, but it’s definitely worth viewing again.

We are infinitely more beautiful than we often believe.  If you had a negative answer to any of those ten questions above, I would like you to write a way in which you could turn it into a positive.  For example, if you gave a 1 for how often you smile, I want you to write a game plan for how you can turn that 1 into a 5.  This could be every time you see yourself in the mirror, you will smile.

Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

~ A. A, Milne

Do you remember this quote from “Winnie the Pooh”?  I want you to print this out and place it on your mirror, or if you want something more permanent try one of these.  Either way, place it somewhere you will see it often throughout your day.

This week, I want you focus on speaking positively about yourself.  By performing this one simple act, you will see that others will notice.  You may even find they will compliment you more often.  Confidence invites people in.  Negativity drives them away.

Have a stellar week!


p.s. If you liked this post let me know! I would love to hear from you.  Also, you can come hang out with me on Instagram.

Six Tips for Preparing for Your Headshot Session

I have recently had the privilege to provide headshots for several individuals and can I say just how fun they were?  Two sessions were shot outdoors, while another was at Studio Boise, (which I highly recommend you check out if you are in the area.  Fantastic service and friendly staff.)  From these sessions I have pulled together some things that each of these clients did well and can be of use to you as you plan for your upcoming shoot.

Here are six tips to help your next headshot session be exactly what you want.

  1. Get your suit or dress cleaned and pressed.  This may seem like you are getting ready for a job interview.  Depending on what you intend to gain from your headshot session, you may very well be doing just that.  This photo can be for a client, a future boss, or a voter’s first glimpse of who you are.  Whatever the reason, you want to impress them.
  2. Wear the full suit.  Yes it may just be a headshot, but sometimes I like to capture the whole individual so that we can get a greater sense of who you are and what your brand is.  This is even true for you ladies.  It also helps out in my retouching process.

Headshot of man in suit in front of brown background

3. Beware of LOUD Jewelry. Jewelry is a great way to accessorize and make yourself stand out, but be careful.  Sometimes your jewelry can speak louder than your eyes, which is something we never want to do.  Your eyes are what will make you love  your photos. Large necklace pieces or earring may detract so keep things simple and on the smaller end.

4. Wear heavier makeup.  This can be uncomfortable and even tricky.  If you are not familiar with this avenue of makeup, there are lots of tutorials and I’m sure you have a friend or two that would be delighted to help.  I am even available to help you during our session or we can locate a professional makeup artist.

Woman with hand on cheek softly looking at camera. full color with a warm tone.

5. Wear Comfortable Yet Flattering Attire. It may take some time before you are comfortable in front of the camera if this is your first time.  So I encourage you to wear what makes you feel your best and is comfortable for you.  We will generally do standing, leaning, and sitting poses.

6.  Make Use of Your Hairspray. Whether we are shooting outdoors or in the studio, the use of hair spray is vital.  As with the photo below, you never know what can happen.  We were setting up for this shoot when it started snowing.  Luckily my beautiful model here was prepared and her hair lasted wonderfully for the full shoot.  If we are in the studio, the warmth coming of the lights can cause your hair to fall flat if it isn’t supported well.  I will usually have some on hand if we find that you are in need of a touch up.

Woman in front of brick building with a hat and vest over green shirt. Snow can be seen on the woman and floating around.

BONUS! One last tip to send you home.  I highly recommend consider using contrast in your attire.  Leather boots with a soft knit dress, a bold tie in contrast to your dark suit, you get the idea.

I hope you enjoyed these tips and I look forward to working with you!

P.S. Have you checked out Four Ways to Totally Rock Your Portrait Session ?