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!


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.

Tips for a Smooth Group Session

DSC_0133Group shots can be some of the toughest things, for the photographer, for the bride, and the families.  Babies will be crying, toddlers are just done for the day, and Grandma and Grandpa are baking in the sun.

To ease this phase of your wedding day, I’ve compiled some tips and with my shot list so that you can make this run smoothly, and everyone, even those small babies, can be happy.

Tip #1. Ensure Your Group Knows They Will Have Their Picture Taken.

I will always shoot the main group, right after the grand exit and that first kiss as husband and wife.  This allows those who need to leave quickly to do so, while still having a token that they were present.

Tip #2. Color Coordination

Make sure everyone, who is supposed to be wearing the bridal colors KNOWS they are to wear them for the group photos.  It may seem silly, but it does happen.  People get rushing and forget what they are supposed to wear if it is not clear from the start.  So help your parents, siblings, and whoever is part of your special group, know what they are to wear on the day of your wedding.

Tip #3. Have Makeup Handy for Touch-ups.

After your first kiss, your lipstick may have smudged, so I would recommend having either your mother, your maid of honor, or some other trusted female to have makeup on hand so we can touch up any smudges or add a little powder to reduce shine if it is a hot day.  I would also suggest wearing waterproof mascara, as joyful tears tend to flow freely.


So that you can plan accordingly, here is what my general group shot list looks like:

  • The “Everyone” photo.  This is for everyone who attends your ceremony.
  • Grandma and Grandpa.  Most grandparents don’t do well in extreme temperatures and so I try to take their photos first to allow them to get where they are comfortable as soon as possible.
  • Siblings who have small children or those with special needs.  After grandparents, most young kids get cranky from having to sit still so long and usually missing a nap or lunch.  I will do my best to accommodate those with special needs so that we ensure they get to be part of the celebration.
  • Family shots.  Your families may need to help with preparations for the reception so we will help them get to where they need to be quicker.
  • Mom and Dad with couple and separately.
  • Siblings with couple and separately
  • Couple with nieces and nephews (if requested.)
  • Bridal party.  I like to save these for last because we can have a bit more fun with these.  This is your last hurrah with your friends on your wedding day so I will do my best to make it memorable (and possibly humorous).
  • Couple shots.  I will do the bulk of these the night before so we can have better lighting, but there is a special sparkle in the eyes of the couple on the actual day of the wedding that I want to help you remember.  After the huge list of photos you just went through though, we will only take a few.


From start for finish, your wedding day photos will be about an hour and a half, but could increase or decrease depending on the number of guests you have.

As an added bonus for you, I will provide a cooler of bottled water if we are shooting outdoors.

Keep on the lookout for more great tips to help your wedding day run smoothly and subscribe so that you can have the latest info.

Have a warm and happy week.


Your Bridal Shoot: Why it matters

When I got married, I did not choose to get specific bridal photos.  We were on a bit of a tight budget and wanted to make sure our wedding was the focus.  Our photographers did a superb job and captured everything I wanted.  They even snapped a quick bridal photo while they were doing our couple shots the night before (which I highly recommend).  The shot they captured was stunning.  Even now, eight years later, every time I see that photo I feel like a queen.

I wish I had more of those, especially with two extremely active boys running around, I don’t always feel beautiful.  I feel less like a queen and more like the scullery maid.  Yet when my oldest boy flips through our old wedding album and I see that picture, I remember how beautiful I felt.  I know that underneath my mom persona, I still am that queen who stole my husband’s heart and continue to hold it close.

Whether you choose to get them done as part of the couple’s shoot like I did or you choose to do a separate session, you need to remember how beautiful you are.  You need to remember who your husband fell in love with.  For those days when you feel so down, photos like these can make your day and remind you of the queen that you are.

Have a stellar week and remember that you are beautiful!


Three Tips for your Bridal Photos

Black and white headshot of bride

Good Afternoon Ladies!

Today I wish to cover some items you may want to consider for your upcoming bridal session.  Things can get crazy when you begin the wedding planning, so I hope these tips can help you stay relaxed and enjoy your engagement.

  1. The first thing I would recommend is to get plenty of sleep.  I know this can be challenging when all you want to do is be with your future Mr., but being groggy for photos can make your session hard for you and your photographer.  It’s hard to smile naturally when all you want to do is yawn.  Lack of sleep can also make your eyes look sunken, and we want to have our eyes full and glowing.  So get to bed on time and get that beauty rest.
  2. Stay hydrated.  Drinking plenty of water can provide your skin with that soft, silky look we all like.  It will also help you feel alert (which can help you in           tip #1).
  3. The final tip I’m going to give you today is be comfortable.  If you are uncomfortable in anything you are wearing, it will show up in your photos.  If your corset is just too tight, you will look like you are in pain and no amount of editing can change that.                                                                                                       

 You want to love the way you look, as this translates into confidence, and that confidence is what will give you that “WOW” to all your photos.

If you found these tips helpful, leave a comment.  I would love to hear from you.

Have a Stellar Week!