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There’s something fairly important you guys should probably know…

WE’RE NOT HERE. Well, “here” is kind of the internet, and we’re “here” several times a day. But we’re not at home… not for nearly a month.

We left on Saturday, July 18th for an EPIC three week road trip with our kids. We spent that first night in Gallup, NM, in a hotel where John Wayne and other old west movie stars have stayed… of course, Jack flipped out and loved it.

We spent Sunday night and Monday at the Grand Canyon.

We drove into Anaheim Tuesday to spend some time with my sister… Wednesday & yesterday, we’ve been at Disneyland. (#duh)

already, not even a week in, and I’m absolutely convinced this trip was the best idea I’ve ever had.



Today, we’re onto San Francisco. From there, it’s north to Redwoods State Park, Portland, Seattle, the Hoh Rainforest, and Bellingham. We’ll be half-camping, half staying in hotels. After Bellingham, we’ll drive to Butte, Montana for a night before continuing on to Yellowstone, where we’ll camp for three nights. Then we’ll drive down to Denver and stay one night, followed by two nights in Taos, and then finally home.

For, like, a day.

Then Mack and I will fly to Tampa for 6 sessions.

We’ll get home late the night of August 12th, and the next morning, we’ll get up and drive to Austin for a portrait session. We’ll come home late the afternoon of the 14th, and collapse into an exhausted pile of happiness, because seriously, this month is going to be AMAZING.

We won’t be blogging at ALL over the next couple weeks, but we’ll be posting plenty on Instagram. You can (and should) follow us there… we are @chelsea_mcgowan and @mack_mcgowan.

I’ll be keeping up with emails as much as possible, but obviously during times we’re camping in more remote areas, cell service isn’t really going to be a thing. So thank you in advance for your patience.

After the crazy ride our family has been on the last month, we’re SO grateful for this break just to be together. It’s going to be a little heavier on the sunhats & vitamin E oil than Dorothy would like, but hey… she’s able to get out and hike with us, and that’s pretty amazing.

I promise we’ll have tons of images to share in personal blog posts when we get back… so we’ll see you then!

As we were gearing up to leave the office for the better part of a month (yay for summer vacation!), I realized I had yet to share the “Behind the Scenes” gems from the first half of our 2015 work year. These images aren’t really informative, they don’t serve any purpose, and they’re only flattering about half the time. But they’re fun, and they’re funny, and if nothing else, I like having a record of the kind of shenanigans we get up to while we’re earning a paycheck.

So feel free to stick around if you like funny faces, weird poses, Mack’s pictures of my butt #sorrynotsorry, or if you’ve ever wondered what we wear to a wedding (Spoiler alert… we don’t have uniforms.). We’ll start with one of the funny faces!


About the calmest you’ll ever see me “behind the scenes” is on Newborn Session days…


Because normally, well, we look like this:


I get SUPER into demonstrating bridal poses…


But Mack still manages to look better than me when he’s just standing there.


… ok. Not always.


nothing is as fun as demonstrating engagement session posing… even when the snuggles are sweaty.



Sometimes, the way we stand to take a photograph looks absolutely normal.


Other times… notsomuch.


Oh yeah, Nikki was definitely standing on the edge of a rock with a snake under it while taking this photo… I didn’t tell her about the snake. WORTH IT.



I’ve noticed when looking through these “Behind the Scenes” images that once I demonstrate to a client how to stand for a portrait (which usually involves some sort of hip-popping because I’m sassy like that), I tend to just STAY that way. Sassy shooting stance?


Either way, our ink is usually on display, so if you’re offended by tattoos, we’re probably not a good fit for you. 😉



Mack is already teaching our son how to look like a stud in a light-testing image…


… but hey, Mack? That’s not how you’re supposed to test a flash.


Our jobs aren’t always just about photographs. Sometimes we’re fixing a broken zipper just minutes before a bride is supposed to walk down the aisle…


… and sometimes we’re having intense conversations with beautiful children about the intricacies of Mermaid society (which I obviously know about because I’m a real mermaid DUH just ask Charlotte.)


And sometimes we get muddy, and have to rinse off in the creek before we’re allowed back in the car.


Either way, our jobs are always best with other killer vendors by our side…


And whenever we possibly can, we try to sneak onto the floor for a dance.


The first half of this year was kind of wonderful. How about we do it all over again in the fall?

  • Susan B - your photos and blogs always make me smile, snicker, sigh….and this is no exception. So nice to get a view of you guys and how y’all work!

  • Marian - I LOVE that you do this! Such a great idea :) there is a reason for this… If I was a client, I’d feel more comfortable knowing it wouldn’t be awkward because you two would be there every step of the way.
    Love these images and so fun!

  • Adria - 3 things:

    2) If you ever don’t tell me about a snake, we shall have WORDS. And probably a strongly worded letter.
    3) Your work is gorgeous, even when you’re not trying. It’s amazing and intimidating all at the same time.

  • Mari Thomas - Gawwww….I managed to catch a good dancing shot of you guys! (I didn’t want to touch ANY of your settings!) <3

  • Sara Scott - Freaking adorable! You make me want to be cooler! .. sigh

  • Amanda J. - These and all behind the scenes types of posts are my favorite second only to your family posts (i.e. McGowan posts). Please never stop posting them.

  • Erica - This is one of my favorite blogs you post each year. I love seeing you working together and enjoying every minute of it! You guys are an excellent duo and go above and beyond for all of your clients!

    It doesn’t hurt that my adorable little man made a cameo! :-)

  • Victoria - Honestly,

    I love you guys. I wish we were friends in real life. I also have a little bit of photographer husband jealousy, I’m still shooing solo at the moment and SOO lonely!!! I need a good second shooter and just can’t seem to find the right person.

    Totally wish my hubby was there with me. Anyway, you guys are from my homestate and we need to get together sometime. Do you offer workshops? I’m looking to get better and you both are on my top favorite photographers to follow!

    Let me know :)


  • Ambo - I absolutely love these posts! You guys always look phenomenal, even when ya are goofing off.

  • Melinda - Ummmm LOVED THIS!!!! First of all – your husband is pretty freaken flexible! hahaha….he was doing like 10 different yoga moves. Secondly, I am pretty freaken jealous at your wardrobe. You have the cutest outfits! Third, I always like to see the peoples facial expressions in the backgrounds. These were great! Lastly….Your work is pretty awesome. One of my faves.

  • Jennifer Ritter - You guys are awesome and I love all the behind the scenes shots. Can’t wait to see you in October!

  • nikki - I’m in a BTS blog post?? OMG I feel famous! LOL.

    WAIT. There was a SNAKE??????????????????????????????

  • Danna Steckler - I’m pretty honored to make this blog! And let me tell ya we still laugh about my zipper. I’m so thankful Mack got it fixed and Chelsea started quoting the movie Bridesmaid with my bridesmaids to keep me laughing when I wanted to cry/freakout!

  • Morgan G - I love all of these!!!! Some of my favorites :)

Morgan is one of those brides for whom the word “sweetheart” was invented. Like, seriously. She’s adorable and kind and funny, but above all that, you can just tell her heart is busting at the seams with sweetness. When I don’t know what a bride’s dress looks like before a session, I’m always curious, and I just about squealed when I saw how perfect Morgan’s wedding gown is for her. The flutter sleeves, the lace… this dress is absolutely as sweet as the bride, and we had such a great time with this lovely country portrait session.

We won’t be able to show off a more complete look at Morgan & Walker’s wedding until we’re home from this road trip in a couple weeks… but at least you’ve got this gorgeousness to check out until then.:)


That last shot… swoon. Is there anything more gorgeous than a happy bride in front of a big blue sky?? Thank you for being so fun to photograph, precious girl!

  • Morgan G - Awwwww. You’re too sweet!!! Yall made me look so pretty!!! Thanks so much for all of the Wonderful pics and for you both being so talented!!!

I haven’t done one of these “sneak peek” blogs in a while, because let’s face it, Monday mornings are hard.

When Morgan booked us for her wedding, she knew we were pulling out the next day for a nearly-month-long vacation, and it would be several weeks before she saw any of her images. She & Walker are total sweethearts, and they were completely ok with it… and then they spent their entire wedding day being adorable, and doing whatever we needed to make magic happen, and I just COULDN’T WAIT.

So I got home from their wedding, the night before our vacation, and edited until 1 a.m., so I could use some downtime to throw these up into a blog post from the laptop on the road.

And ya know what?


I’ll have more to show off next month when life gets more back to normal, but our precious newlyweds deserved a little peek at the images they’ll have waiting for them.



Yes yes, definitely worth losing a couple hours of sleep. We have blog posts scheduled to share tomorrow & Wednesday too, so come back & check in with us later this week!:)

  • Morgan - Ahhhhh!!!!!!! They are so awesome….. Just like I knew they would be!!! Thank you both for doing this…. You guys are the best!!!!!

  • Shandon Whitson - Oh my gosh they are awesome!!! So sorry we missed it!!!! Love yall!

  • DeAndra - Beautiful! We can’t wait to see more. Enjoy your vacation!

  • Tina Willis - Congratulations to the Happy Couple! What amazing pictures of you both!!!

** Note: Mack & Chelsea have room for one or two more weddings in 2015, depending on date, and are currently filling up the calendar for spring 2016. So let this be your kick in the pants to go ahead and call us if you want us!***

In 2012, we shot 35 weddings and over 200 portrait sessions, and at the end of the year, we decided it was too much for us.

Since then, we’ve stayed in our happy range of between 20-25 weddings a year, with all the engagement & bridals associated with those sessions, two boudoir marathons a year, two family session marathons a year, and all the maternity/anniversary/newborn sessions we can fit in. We’re still busy, but we love our life, and it’s the right kind of busy for us.

About 18 months ago, we started talking about ways that we could serve more of the brides that inquire with us, without sacrificing that work-life balance we’ve worked so hard to achieve. We were having to pass on brides because we were already booked for their wedding date, and also missing a lot of really incredible weddings that were just slightly under budget… mostly smaller events that couldn’t set aside as much for photography. We love what we do, but it’s also a business, and we have to keep feeding these growing children. 😉

After over a year of praying, soul-searching, number-crunching, and test-running, we’re proud to announce that Nikki is officially part of the McG family.


Nikki is no stranger to McG weddings, having worked her first one with us back in 2013. Her style, both in photography and personality, is a GREAT match for us. She’s a super-talented artist and an insanely hard worker. She’s had her own business for a long time, but with two small kids at home, now is better for her to be able to shoot, and leave the rest to someone else. And because of that, she’s a KILLER fit as McG’s associate shooter.

Associate Packages with Nikki will definitely still feel like the McG Experiences. Each wedding package will include 5 hours of wedding day coverage, an engagement session shot by Mack & Chelsea AND Nikki, and the ability to add extra coverage hours, bridal sessions, products… endlessly customizable. Every image in the final digital collection, both from portrait sessions and from the wedding day, will be edited by Chelsea to match the McG standard of color & style that we’ve developed since 2008, and Nikki’s own incredible talent will make sure that those real moments and romantic portraits are there straight out of camera.

Basically, if you wanted McG Magic for your wedding, but at a lower price point (or on a date we’re already booked), there’s now a way for us to make sure you can have that… and we’re SO excited.

Here’s a little glimpse of Nikki’s gorgeous work…


Nikki has started booking small wedding packages for McG clients at a lower budget point, or for whom we were already booked on their wedding date. She’s got a few already on the calendar for this fall and next spring, and those brides are all super stoked to have locked her down before the official announcement! Here are the details of the 2015/2016 McGowan Images Associate Shooter Package with Nikki:


We are offering TWO specials for brides getting married between now and the end of 2015. Both are crazy-good deals that are a little nuts to offer, but we want to get the word out about Nikki so we can keep her SUPER busy in 2016.

For DFW area brides getting married between now and the end of 2015, we will be throwing in a free 24×36 canvas gallery wrap from your engagement session.

For brides getting married in the Texas Hill Country (Austin/San Antonio areas) between now and the end of 2015, Nikki is offering a free mini bridal session with each wedding booking.

Mostly, here’s the take-away from this blog post… We’ve been proud to offer what we believe are gorgeous wedding collections to our clients for over 7 years now, and we’re going to keep doing that. Our basic wedding packages will continue to start at $4,000 plus tax, and we won’t slack for a second when it comes to delivering amazing images to our clients.

Now, thanks to a partnership that we’re beyond confident in, we can start offering that same customer service and beautiful work in a smaller package, to another 25 brides a year. (Literally… a smaller package. Nikki’s a tiny little person. 😉 )


Leave a comment welcoming Nikki to the McG family, but more importantly, spread the word! These dates won’t last long, which we think is AWESOME!

Happy Friday, folks!

  • Tiana Bond - Nikki is the BOMB.COM!!! We just love her and the McGowans!! I can attest to her skills, personality, professionalism, on the spot clutch performance. ect ect!! If your date is already spoken for or budget won’t allow Chelsea and Mack for your day I guarantee that you will be elated with Nikki on your wedding day!! LOVE THEM!!

  • Adria - This is so exciting!!!