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.

A Style Guide For Your Engagement Photo Session: To help you look and feel your best

Engagement sessions are some of my favorite things to shoot.  I get to interact one-on-one with my clients, and it is a fun and relaxed time.  To help you feel and look your most polished for these sessions, I wanted to provide some tips that I have found while working with clients.

Wear Your Best Attire

We all have varying degrees of what we consider dressed up.  However, what is important is that you choose an outfit that fits you well while making you feel great.  When you look polished and ready, it will give you confidence.  This will shine through in your photos.   

If you are the type that really likes bold colors or prints go ahead and wear the outfit.  I would recommend, though, that you also bring a simpler outfit as well so that we have some options.

Couple sitting on a boat dock near a river kissing

Wear What is Comfortable

If you are uncomfortable at all in your outfit, it will show.  You will have scrunched up eyes and a very self-conscious look on your face that will be hard to get rid of.  So, find what is comfortable, while keeping in mind the first tip.  Avoid wearing your workout attire.  If you plan to wear high heels, have an alternative pair of shoes as well.

Man and woman sitting together with heads close

Choose Clothing That Complements Each Other

I found a great infographic by Wedding Forward as I was going through my Pinterest feed a while back that depicted how to choose complementary colors for your session.  By wearing complementary colors, you will ensure that both of you will stand out in all the right ways.

Couple outdoors looking at camera

Consider Your Location

Think about the style you are looking for and how that plays into your surroundings.  If you are on a beach, high heels might not be the best option.  Also, if we need to do some hiking to reach the location, a tight dress would not be the best choice.  As a general rule, flip-flops are not advised as they aren’t easy to walk in, especially if we happen to get into thorny ground. 

Man and woman standing together kissing beneath a tree

Bring multiple outfits 

A change of clothes can bring in a fresh feel after doing some shooting.  Bring two to three outfits and we will photograph as much as we have time for.  Consider layering as well.  This can provide props later on as it warms up or cools down.

I hope these tips help you as you plan for your upcoming engagement session.  If you find there are other tips you would like to see, comment with them below.

Have a great week!