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If it’s such a Monday you can’t even, scroll to the bottom for the tl;dr  version. You’ll figure it out.:)

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Back in the spring, we were chatting with a vendor only a few months into their business, who was feeling a little overwhelmed by the hustle. The weighing of risks & rewards… the lack of sleep… the uncertainty… the insane creative highs… the freedom from some things and renewed dedication to others. Starting a business is always hard, and scary.

Luckily, some of the scary eventually goes away. We were able to talk to this vendor about the kind of things that will get easier. You’ll learn better what you are as a business, and who you want to work with. You’ll make industry friends that you can learn from. You’ll figure out when to say NO just because your gut is telling you to. You’ll learn to balance family time.

She said, “Ugh. I know. I know it’ll get better. I’m just ready to be done with the hustle.”

Had to break agreement on that one, though….

You’re never done with the Hustle. 

And I don’t mean the dance… I’m assuming, at some point, we’ll eventually be done with that.

I mean the waking up in the morning and pushing until your human batteries shut down, and then getting up to do it again the next day. Sure, there are days of relaxation… it’s not the gulag, after all. But, at least as far as I’ve seen, there’s no “We Made It!!” point where we can just coast by and let the internet bring us money.

Every email, we have to be on point. Every gig, we have to slay. Every photo we deliver has to matter. That’s why people talk about us to other people, and that is far-and-away the biggest outside factor to the continued growth of our business.

This year, for us, the hustle has been a little different than we’re used to. Sure, we’re in our regular schedule of weddings & portrait sessions & future bookings… we’re booked like crazy through the end of the year, and have about a third of the wedding bookings we think we’ll end up with for 2017. But on top of that, SKIN by McG has taken up a TON of our time.

Before I go any futher, I’m going to stop and say another Thank You. We launched www.SKINbyMcG.com  because our spirits told us it was the right thing to do. It’s something we (ok, I) cried over and we (definitely both of us) prayed for, and sweated for, and lost sleep for. It’s something we believe in, honestly in a way a lot of people don’t understand. And that’s ok, because it seems enough people DO understand for us to have had some incredible opportunities already this year.

Next week, we’re headed to Seattle for four days of shooting mostly SKIN work, with a few family/romantic portraits here and there. In September, it’s Denver for another three days… mostly SKIN, a few other McG sessions we’re excited about. And 2017? Well… 2017 has gone a bit nutty already, in the absolute best way.

We’re currently booking several different cities for McG & SKIN work in February/March/April: Las Vegas, Chicago, Nashville, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Riviera Maya.  We’re a few sessions away from being able to call two of those cities locked in, but we’ll get there soon. And how? Because the internet.

People are paying attention to what we’re doing in a way we were unprepared for. I mean, I’ve heard that if you ask God for rain you should pack an umbrella, but we’re still so surprised and grateful for the way people have reacted to the project. There are million and two boudoir photographers in the country it seems… taking pictures of people in less-than-street-appropriate clothing isn’t some new idea. And the idea of doing it with a focus on confidence and empowerment and realism isn’t new, either. I can’t imagine that anyone is really able to reinvent the wheel when it comes to portrait photography, although we’ll obviously all continue to try as artists.

Ok, I’m rambling. And I really don’t do this anymore… write a blog this way. These blogs as a general rule aren’t as popular anymore as we’re getting our social media fix through Instagram and such. But obviously, I couldn’t be confined to a word limit. Geez, such a shocker.

There are a few points to this:

  • If you’re reading this, thank you. That means you’ve hung on during a couple months when we aren’t posting much, because the content we’re shooting is much more evenly split between Wedding clients & our other projects. (Or, ya know, you can follow link you clicked on Facebook).
  • No, we are not moving to a place where we stop taking weddings and focus only on SKIN. I mean, I can’t see the future so I don’t know if we’ll maybe for some reason go that way, but it’s nowhere on the horizon in our plan. We love weddings, and our wedding clients, and being able to tell those stories.
  • Yes, we’ll totally take wedding bookings in these cities while we’re there, and YES, that helps save on the travel cost. So hey… wanna elope someplace fun? Big wedding in a state other than Texas? Anniversary travels that need killer romantic documentation? Hit us up. Spoiler alert: our answer is going to be YES PLEASE!
  • McG is really REALLY not confined to Texas. We’ve shot Destination Weddings (and “local” weddings for out-of-state clients all over the country) for years, but it’s at a different level now. Having had 2016 to soft launch this kind of traveling, we’ve loved the crap out of shooting groups of incredible people we’ve worked with this year… male & female, clothed & un… in Denver, Mexico, San Diego, West Texas, and Columbus, Ohio. So, I mean, hey… let’s do it again.
  • If you’ve told someone about McGowan Images because you love to look at what we do, THANK YOU. If you’ve encouraged someone to book us because you loved your experience with us, THANK YOU. If you’ve risked making your parents blush by posting not just the McGowan Images link, but the SKIN by McG information on Facebook, THANK YOU. We work our asses off to produce a beautiful product and an incredible experience, but we know that doesn’t matter if we don’t end every job with a happy client.

We are absolutely thrilled for the people we’re going to meet in 2017 all over the country, and we have all our fingers & toes crossed that we’re going to add a few more incredible cities to this list. If we’re going to #setSKINfree and capture love in that specific McG way you guys watch for, there’s no reason to do it just in Texas.

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If you follow our work because you love what we do…. THANK YOU.

If you’re one of the people who’s made @mcgowanimages and @skin_by_mcg so much fun on Instagram… THANK YOU.

If you’ve told someone about McG because you like following our work… THANK YOU.

If you’ve loved your experience with us, and told people they should book us because you love our work… THANK YOU.

If you’ve risked making people blush by supporting SKINbyMcG on Facebook as we got it rolling this year… THANK YOU.

If you’re one of the people who called and said, “My city. I want you in MY CITY.”… THANK YOU.

2016 isn’t over yet. There’s so much more to come, and so many other ways I’m sure next year will surprise and delight and challenge us. But planning for next year? That starts now. That started 6 months ago. Hold on to the past, relish the present, of course. But dreams don’t come true just from dreaming.

It’s the HUSTLE, y’all. It’s the Hustle.

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(special thanks to our pal Jeremy Minnerick. What you shot for us feels like who we are right now, and we’re forever grateful.)

  • Ambo - I love this! I am so stinking proud of you guys and happy I can say I was there way back when it all began. Love ya!

  • Adria - I love this! You guys have earned every bit of your success with both talent and absolute HUSTLE. I am proud to call you friends and you inspire me every day. I knew SKIN back before it was SKIN and watching the relaunch and seeing it take off in a way that I know it deserves and watching you take the shoots to the absolute next several levels – well…it’s just spectacular. #McG2017 – I’m all in!

  • Will - I cried a little bit. Love to see yalls passion and honesty. Do what you do, baby!

When HeidiBeth (one of our favorite coordinators and head honcho at the OW Ranch, told us about her idea to build an open air chapel on the venue’s property, we were already pretty excited. The ideas she had for it already set it apart from other “chapels” at wedding venues in the area, which we LOVE. Being able to tell our brides who ask that there are distinct features to all these beautiful places to get married. And sure enough, we weren’t disappointed.

Seeing the way this Sky Chapel is going to look as the backdrop for a wedding, even just in small scale, gets us super jazzed for all the spring gorgeousness we’re sure is going to happen there. We were honored to be asked to come shoot some images to show off the new structure, and here are a few faves…

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We’re so happy to have great relationships with wedding venues all over Texas, and the OW Ranch is absolutely one of those. We’ve never had a client be anything less than thrilled with their experience there, and now that there’s another ceremony option added to the mix, we’re pretty stoked to book more 2017 brides who fall in love with this beautiful space.

Thanks so much to HeidiBeth for asking us to come out and play… we LOVE it!

Caitlin & Gerrod had been engaged a grand total of three days when we shot their engagement portraits. And they’re getting married in just a couple months. And you KNOW McG is all about a whirlwind love story, y’all.

We met this super fun couple at Caitlin’s parents’ house at sunrise… we actually recognize the property, because we shot her sister Patrice’s engagement session there in 2012! C&G will actually be getting married here this fall as well, and getting to walk around with them and make location decisions based on light… pretty much ridiculously excited about this wedding!

It was hard to narrow down shots for a blog post, but here’s what happened when we threw a dart to pick favorites!

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That. Light. Tho.

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Mack showed me this next image, and I pretty much wanted to throw my camera into the pond. It just WINS.

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You guys were SUCH a blast, and we know you’ll be even more fun when you’ve had time to wake up. 😉

Kristen has been fun to photograph every single time we’ve seen her. I mean, Lucas has been a blast as well… but this girl, y’all. She’s just such a stunner. When you’re done looking at this post, feel free to check out their engagement session, her bridal session, and our favorite images from their wedding.

Now that they’re expecting their first baby (first of several if they get their way!), we were so excited to see them again. Kristen managed to look radiant even before the crack of dawn, with a little polishing from Jennifer at Lip Service Makeup (we love you, girl!) It’s always so annoying when the alarm goes off at 5 a.m. (especially since the McGs are seeeerious night owls), but man… that light, and the cooler temperatures, makes it all worth it.

Just a handful of standouts…

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We can’t WAIT to meet this new little guy… and hey, all the ones that come after him, too!

Lisa and Trey got married a little over a week ago… our last wedding ’til September. And man, this was a perfect way to start our little mini-break for the summer. This wedding was so heartfelt, so intimate, so full of happiness, and such FUN. It was a perfect match for this awesome couple we’re proud to have gotten to know.

Piazza in the Village was an excellent choice for the steamy July weather. With just their closest family attending the ceremony, Trey & Lisa focused solely on each other, and on their children. None of the fuss, all of the love. And then, meeting all their friends in a ballroom for a night of dancing & donuts… I mean, that’s our kind of party! (really, though. If you haven’t gone to FunkyTown Donuts in Fort Worth, FIX IT)

It certainly didn’t hurt that we worked with a couple vendors we adore. With Darla from Blossoms on the Bricks handling design & coordination, and one of our all time favorite DJs in control of the party (Shout out to Jason!!), we knew it was going to be a blast.

We’ll kick off the blog post with Lisa’s STUNNER of a wedding gown…

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Trey & Lisa’s children were very involved in the ceremony, and it was truly a blending of families. The twins walking down the aisle just melted my heart… so nervous!

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The chapel at the Piazza is set up perfectly for me to be able to sneak around and catch different views of the ceremony. And normally I would have to worry about staying out of a videographer’s way, but I didn’t, so sneeeeeak I did!

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Unity Sand ceremony for six…

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Mr & Mrs Phillips!! They went right out on the balcony to say hi to all the guests waiting in the courtyard… and toss that bouquet!

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Oh my heart… new favorite thing. Since Lisa’s beloved dog Jack couldn’t attend their wedding, a favor station was set up in his honor. Everyone was encouraged to take home a bag of dog treats and a tennis ball for their furry kids!

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After their first dance as husband and wife, Trey & Lisa took time to acknowledge some very important people who couldn’t celebrate with them. A table was fully decorated and left empty in honor of police killed in the line of duty. Trey has long served Fort Worth as an officer, and with this wedding following just a day behind the horrific killing of police in Dallas, it was emotional for everyone. Several friends had been called in to work instead of attending, and so many people there knew of or had lost someone. What an incredible tribute.

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Did we mention donuts earlier? Because YEAH.

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Trey’s mom started up my waterworks again with her short and perfect toast:

“Spend every day together like it’s your last, and spend every night together like it’s your first.”

Yeeeahhh totally crying again just writing it.

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Thank you so much for bringing us on this whirlwind journey with you. You are people we’re proud to know, and it was an absolute honor to be trusted inside your inner circle to capture these precious memories. Congratulations again!!