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.

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!


Portrait Sessions in Tight Places Are Opportunities for Creativity

The Problem

The past couple of months, I have been searching out and photographing at various locations that have a very urban feel.  I’ve chosen a different city for each shoot and this time we were in Eagle, Idaho.  I had hoped to have a fun small-scale city feel, but I found this was going to be a bit more difficult upon closer inspection.

This couple was fantastic to work with. They were fun and were willing to help me out so that our session went great.  I had scouted out this location a few days prior, but on the day of, I was struggling with composing the shots.  I found there were a great deal more dumpsters, road signs, and debris than I had originally thought.  

The Solution

This posed a problem as we were walking around.  I wanted an urban feel to this session, but all the trash was a bit too urban.  So we got a bit more creative with this session.  We were working in pretty confined places so to hide the debris, we used a trick of creating a smoke effect with baby powder.  It was incredibly helpful to hide all that stuff and it was all done on location. 

We also did a great deal of up close and personal shots with the sides of buildings and roads.  Even though our location wasn’t the best I have used in the past, we still made the most of it.   The best part was when we found a large grey stone building.  It created the background I needed and really highlighted my couple.  

So regardless of where we will be shooting, great locations can be found and help you look your very best.



Do you have a great location you want to get photographed at? Let me know! I am always up for expanding the locations I shoot at.  Be sure to check out my Engagement Style Guide or Four Ways to Rock Your Portrait Session.

Also, find me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!


Wedding Photography Prices

Wedding planning can be stressful.  However, your photography shouldn’t be.  Below is a listing of what you will receive through using Vanessa Thurgood Photography.

If a package listed here isn’t perfect for you, I will be happy to work with you to create a custom wedding photography experience with a collection of services and products that exactly suit the needs for your wedding day. 

Pricing for the 2018 year

Here is a PDF version of the Pricing should you need it.

ALL clients will be given:

  • A photo style guide, with suggestions on what to wear for your engagement session.
  • List of suggested vendors to take the stress out of other aspects of the wedding
  • A free client consultation to sort out the major details
  • A photo shot list for your family and guests for the day of the wedding. This way we can plan to get Grandma and Grandpa to a comfortable spot as quickly as possible.
  • A personal use print release so you can make additional prints to display in your home.
  • Couple photos (pre-wedding) the evening before the wedding. I highly recommend this so that we are not rushed and family won’t have to hang around too long after the wedding. Plus the lighting is amazing at this time of day so your photos will be gorgeous.

To help break down the cost, I offer payment plans so that we can capture every precious moment that you desire.

**Cost of travel is included in the listed prices!** 

If you know you can’t live without my assistance to make your wedding the dream come true it should be, please use the contact form to get in touch.  I look forward to working with you!

*All listed prices are subject to change at any given time unless defined in your contract.

Four Ways to Totally Rock Your Portrait Session


Portraits can seem intimidating to some people. You are the lone person in front of the camera and that can feel a bit unnerving for someone who has not had much experience with this. However, I want you to feel comfortable. I want you to feel like a RockSTAR, because the truth of it is, YOU ARE!

To help you be a RockSTAR, here are some simple tips to keep in mind.

Determine what type of shoot you are doing. Is it going to be rustic, by old barns and buildings? Is it going to be an urban shoot with an industrial feel? Are you going into the mountains or the woods?  Answering this one question will help you narrow down your wardrobe selection.

Wear complimentary colors.  Purples with yellows, greens and reds, oranges with blues, etc.  Or stick to the same palette, such as all neutrals.  However, as there is an exception to every rule, if you have a favorite accessory, or shirt, by all means wear it.  It will make your photos more authentic and increase how comfortable you are in front of the camera.

Wear different layers and textures.  This is the key to making one photo shoot look like several because you can change your outfit by simply adding a jacket or scarf.  With fashion, contrast is important.  So, if you have that cute little black dress, why not throw on some biker boots to give it some attitude?

For you girls, Heavier make up is a must.  It may feel a bit awkward if you are not used to it, but I can promise you that it will improve your portraits.  If you are unsure about doing it yourself, get a friend who is make up savvy or use one of these tutorials by Michelle Phan.  I have personally used several of her glam looks with great success.

Woman looking away from camera with hands near face.

I hope these tips help.  Be sure to check out A Style Guide For Your Engagement Photo Session: To help you look and feel your best if you are doing photos as a couple or for your engagements.

If you have found any tips that have worked for you, or you have tried some of my tips, please share! I would love to hear from you.

Until next week!


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Fresh Starts and New Beginnings

New Year’s Day = A Chance at a New YOU!

I love New Year’s Day.  When I wake up in the morning, if feels as though I left a hundred pound weight behind me and I am ready and excited to set out on my new goals.  I feel as though I can do anything.  I hope feel that same way too.

You ARE Beautiful

One of my goals this year is to help all my clients see just how beautiful they are.  You all are the reason I am here and I feel so blessed to serve you as you prepare for a wedding day or put together photos for you to use in your workspace.  You are beautiful and you are worth it.

Seeing It Through Til the Sun Shines Again

This couple put up with wild weather during our shoot.  It started out a bit windy and then it snowed! Quite a lot I might add.  By the end of the session, however, the sun had come out and it was positively dazzling.  Through it all they kept smiling and laughing.  I feel this is the way we all should approach our challenges.

A man and a woman standing in different directions. Man looking at woman. Woman looking at camera

When we see bad weather coming, I think we should face it head on, because after it’s all over, the sun appears and what we have accomplished is dazzling.  So here is to another year.  A better year.  A better and more successful you.

Comment with a goal you have set this year.  I would love to hear from you.

Until next week!


P.S. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and hang out with me during the week on Instagram (@vanessa.thurgood.photography) or Facebook (@vwtphotography)