Sometimes You Just Have To Do It For Yourself | Emily McGonigle Photography

[Written 1/22/16 -- Published 1/25/16]

Today Nashville had a Snowpocalypse. It was awesome. Well, at least it was awesome after the hecticness of running to and from the airport, in that mess, was over.

This was the first snow that I had ever seen in Nashville, since moving here 3 years ago, that could be considered an ACTUAL snow by northern standards (As of this writing, I currently have 7 inches of snow piling in my yard, and it's not done yet...).

Ever since the first winter that I had a camera in my hands, I've wanted to do a shoot in the snow. It never happened for various reasons. One year I planned on doing one with a friend, but it never snowed as forecasted. Another year, everyone was trapped in their homes and no one could make it out to me or vice versa. Then we moved to Nashville and it never really snowed.

Until today.

I heard of the impending Snowpocalypse and I told myself that I *would* do a snow shoot. I had a friend that just moved to town, that was going to come over, and I had planned on making her model for me. But when I saw how early and how quickly the snow started to pile on, I realized that she probably wouldn't be able to make it out to me from where she was staying. I then realized that my other friend, who lived in the apartment complex across from me, most likely wouldn't make it to work today either. So, I called her up and asked her if she wanted to play in the snow, and she said yes. As did another friend who lived about 15 minutes away.

So the snow shoot was on!

This shoot was incredibly important to me, because recently I have been dealing with some major self-doubt issues (as every artist does). But within the last week or so I've suddenly been able to pull myself out of it. Not only have I become incredibly productive again, but I suddenly felt brave.

What do I mean by that? Well, prior to this sudden burst of courage, I had always been timid about impromptu shoots. I doubted my ability to pull something from nothing with no planning, and so I held myself back from doing anything. So much so, that when I attended a photographer's meetup hosted by a friend, I didn't shoot. Not really. I took a couple, "Behind the Scenes" photos of the event and of OTHER people shooting, so that he could have some stuff to post about the event happening, but I didn't make any portraits. I was too terrified to do it. I don't know why.

That's the honest to god truth, and I've literally never said that out loud to anyone until now.

But TODAY... today I changed that.


TODAY I called up two friends, last minute, asked them to meet me at my place to shoot in the snow, with very little planned, and with a vague idea of what I was going for. I could see an end result in my head, and I had to figure out how to get there without any prior experience shooting in snow, or making portraits within an hour's notice.

And here's the thing... shooting in snow is not DIFFICULT. The WHOLE WORLD is a giant light box. The sky is diffused by clouds, which reflects off the snow-covered ground and bounces around to snow-covered trees, and branches, and fences, and... everything. There is just light EVERYWHERE. And what I wanted to accomplish, the end-result I saw in my head, was not a complex or new idea... It wasn't anything groundbreaking... but what was huge about it for me, is that I saw it. I knew what I wanted from the first click of the shutter to the post-processing after the shoot was over, and I set out to get it exactly right, with confidence, no hesitation, and no discouraging self-doubts in my mind.

It was great. Other than the fact that we were freezing our appendages off, it was great. And when we came inside, I uploaded my card and processed a photo, sat back and looked at it and said to myself, "That's it. That's what I wanted."

It came so easy. 

I don't understand why I've been making it so difficult for myself all this time. I have literally been holding myself back, telling myself "You can't do that, you're not good enough to pull it off", "You can't shoot with her, you're not good enough to be worthy", "You can't talk to him. He's way better than you'll ever be, and you'll just embarrass yourself." But WHY?

I mean NONE of that is true.

And for SOME reason... this past week... I suddenly realized it.

And I wanted to do a snow shoot. Not for any particular reason other than I've been wanting to. Not for anyone but me. I just had to do it for myself, to see that I *could* do it.

And I did.


Now I didn't write this to pat myself on the back or talk about how great I am. Don't confuse this post for gloating, because it's not. I still have an incredible amount that I want to and need to learn. I mean you should NEVER stop learning... But I wrote it just in case there was anyone else out there feeling the same way.

I know I've written about this subject before in another post touching on growing pains, but I felt like this was different. This was in the moment... completely stream-of-conscious... And short of going back to insert images into this writing and proof-reading it (probably very poorly) for grammatical errors, I don't intend on going back and editing anything I've said. Because, sometimes, pure authenticity is needed, and I feel like this is one of those times.

So if you're feeling discouraged, frustrated, crippled by self-doubt... know you're not alone. We all experience it... and we all get through it. And it'll come back at some point. I have no doubt in my mind that it'll come back... but while it's gone... I have some seriously awesome work to do. :)

Chelsea & Ivette

Ivette Vargas

Chelsea Blair


Emily McGonigle Photography is a Franklin and Nashville Portrait Photographer, and can be contacted for booking inquiries here.