The Five Nine's Andy McCallie on What He's Learned from Heartbreak


Andy loves capturing people and things in motion. As one half of The Five Nine creative photography team in Los Angeles, he works with brands to tell stories. When he’s not behind a camera shooting a basketball player or a Tesla, you can usually find him down at the beach biking, playing basketball or trying to learn how to do a backflip. You can follow him on Instagram at @thefivenine

“My mom, she died from cancer when I was 12. I think that’s been a reason why I wasn’t that crazy about getting into relationships. Experiencing loss at that level, it made me hesitate to jump into emotionally vulnerable situations. A lot of the time I would avoid going there. I think since then I’ve been very reluctant to give myself up... having that scar from an early age teaches you how to be alone and I was never in a place where I thought I was really ready to open up. For me, the first thing I would think about when I would be with somebody was what’s it going to be like when we break up? And that’s not a great mindset to have. Relationships aren’t going to flourish with a mindset like that.”

“I learned self sufficiency. It also taught me how to talk to people. I had a number of adoptive parents. Many of my friends’ parents took me under their wing and were very kind and nurturing. I think that taught me how to talk to people and open up to people.”

“There was a girl in high school that I dated on and off towards the end of high school and overlapped into the first year of college. I just started to realize that it wasn’t a match. But when it got to a point where it was finally over, I was kind of amazed at how much it affected me. A few weeks before, I’d been sure it was over and was okay. But when she left for real I let my mind run rampant. I got into these terrible routines of thinking what is she doing? who is she seeing? I would go back and read an old text and I got in this negative feedback loop. When you haven’t dealt with that before it’s really hard to pull the reigns you get in the tunnel and you just kind of go crazy until you come out. I loved her as a friend, I cared about her family and she was great girl, but I never thought that we were going to get married. I never thought that it was the last love of my life. But it affected me to the point where I thought, wow if you’re not careful, this can really hurt. The real thing is going to be tough.”


“My most recent breakup was my first real, let’s-give-this-a-go relationship. I was giving and I was getting, and it was a really great balance, but sometimes the natural change of one another becomes apparent. Some people say the honeymoon phase is 3 months, 6 months, a year, whatever - eventually that kind of wears off and you have to reset and check: are we aligned? If not how do we get aligned? And is it worth it? And we battled with that for a long time, because we had a really positive foundation. But I think we realized the further down the path we looked in life, our paths started to go away from each other. So we decided that we had to walk away from something that was really really good. Maybe it’s easier to break up with someone that you hate and has wronged you. Or you wronged them and they hate you. There’s a lot of pain, but it’s black and white and there’s no back and forth. That’s the problem right now for me. It’s like Hey, I love you and you’re my best friend but you have to stay there and I have to stay over here. And that’s very tough.”

“Being active is the number one release for me - playing sports, going out on my bike is the best release for me. Fortunately with my schedule, there are times when I have afternoons to go bike or go watch people get loose at the skate park. If there’s no work to be done, just find something that you want to learn or observe and dive into it. ”

“I get worried about tunneling. When you don’t know any better you’ll just sit there and think about it and the next thing you know you’re on IG or FB or in your old emails and that’s never helped me feel good. It helps you relieve some sort of desire and I’m not sure what drives that maybe the nostalgia or the happiness associated with those memories. So I give myself time to think about it, but I surround myself with activities to protect me so I can’t get stuck in that place of total despair where you’re feeling really bad.”

“With a previous relationship where the door got closed pretty hard, I removed them from all social media. The main reason was because because she lived across the country and I knew if I removed those elements I could remove those feelings from my head. I had a lot of people tell me that was harsh, but I don’t agree. You can do it in a spiteful manner but it was more just let’s clean the closet and get this done. And now we’re friends again on social media. Eventually it comes back around but in the moment that was best thing to do.”


“In all my experience if you can combine talking to people who you trust with activities that make you feel good, eventually you feel better. And there’s not really a lot of magic to it. There’s just some core principles that if you stick to, eventually they will work. I think a lot of people have trouble with some of the different vices - going back into social media and continuing to talk or whatever it is. A lack of discipline in that area can really affect you and everyone has to learn that in their own way. Your first time breaking up you might just be terrible in that scenario and do all of the wrong things. But the next time you probably won’t do those things.”

“I think the last experience makes me think that I’m not ready to look for love right now. I think starting this company has been an exhaustive but fantastic experience. But to have the emotional room and availability to do it successfully - both the company and the relationship - was not something that I felt capable of at times. Maybe I need to be in a better place in my life to be able to commit to something and give it everything I have. I don’t feel like I’m on the clock. I want to do it right the first time. I can’t think of a single instance of divorce in my fairly large extended family and that's kind of daunting. I don't want to be the first one.”

“Sometimes you put yourself in positions to succeed in relationships by the things you do, the places you go and the people you hang out with. And those things will start to align on their own when you’re ready to be with someone. When you're hanging out with a bunch of your single friends I think it’s harder - you’re not going to be as inclined to go meet someone and make it work because you have these forces that nag at you to remain in a certain state. So I think things will align outside of the relationship part when you’re ready. I want to feel like I’m ready for balance. Right now I feel like I’m ready to chew on one big thing and really dig in to this company.”


“R Kelly Trapped in a Closet. If a guy can write a song about being trapped in a closet for that long you know love is some serious shit.”

“I've explored a little bit of meditation and I’ve practiced yoga on and off for quite a while. It’s a discipline that's not easy and it's not fast-acting in its rewards, but you can see the process and how it's beneficial if you just keep doing it. It’s something that takes a lifetime to master but even in 5 minute increments it's really something that I’m trying to do.”

Photographed by Ellen Huerta.