Alison, Sergej & Nikolai : Celebration | McGowan Images Blog


Alison, Sergej & Nikolai : Celebration

I love this session a lot. Like, a LOT A LOT. Almost an absurd amount.

It’s not because Alison & Sergej are so awesome… although they are. They are some of the most genuine, unaffected, open & honest people we’ve ever met, and hanging out with them was a breath of fresh air in our busy season.

It’s not because baby Nikolai is so gorgeous… although he is. Oh man, he’s positively scrumptious. Mack kept having to remind me, “Chelsea, we can’t take the baby home.”

It’s not because we got to Chicago… although that was fabulous. We were so honored when Alison & Sergej trusted our early work enough to bring us to their city in 2010 for their wedding. To be called back four years later to meet their son, and photograph family portraits at the same address where they said their marriage vows? That was phenomenal.

Nope, above all those things, I love this session because it’s REAL. It’s un-fussy. It’s at home, “this is life”, comfortable. It’s going to matter to this family in 50 years, in 100 years. Mack and I walked away from this session knowing that we’d just created a time capsule for the Henning family… a relic of what their lives were like in their first married home, with their first baby, right before his first Christmas. This was an honor & a privilege, and we’re so so proud of the images.

Enough emotional talking… just look at it, and you’ll see what I mean:


This spot is pretty much exactly where Alison & Sergej said “I Do” in August 2010… I couldn’t resist heading up to the roof again, even if it was a little blustery!


We didn’t have to bust out acrobatics or crazy noises to make Nikolai grin like this. He’s genuinely the happiest baby we’ve EVER photographed. Just FULL of joy all day long… no doubt his parents are doing something right. 🙂


These next few images tug on my heartstrings something fierce. I wish I had thought to have portraits like this taken when I was nursing my babies. Such an incredibly intimate moment. I’m so grateful Alison approved these images for the blog… it’s such a beautiful connection!


Want a quintessentially “Chicago” photo without braving the crowds at The Bean?? Just take your photographers with you to the top of Sears tower! If someday Nikolai tells his therapist about a fear of heights, we’ll know where it all started. 😉


You guys… thank you! We have so enjoyed every second we’ve gotten to spend with y’all, then & now. We hope it won’t be the last time we get to explore your super-cool city and hang out with your super-fun selves. 🙂 Merry first Christmas, Nikolai!

  1. Alison says:

    WOAH! Wow. wooooow. I have so many favorites! Thank you Chelsea & Mack! Thank you. Remember when we were stepping out onto the Sears Tower ledge and I said, “This was a stupid idea.” and you replied, “Might I remind you, it was your idea!” Well – I think it was all a great idea all over again. 🙂 I’m SO glad you guys were willing to fly across the country to capture our little family so perfectly. You’re right – we will cherish these snapshots in time forever. Thank you!

  2. Charles Burns says:

    Absolutely adorable, everyone of the pictures. I am glad I do not have to pick a favorite because that would be impossible. Can’t wait to see you next week. Love to all Marlene and Chuck

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