Morgan and Andie’s Julian Mountain Engagement

Some friends and I were having a conversation recently about light and dark. There are so many levels and applications we could mention and you’re probably naming five to yourself as you read this, but in this particular conversation we correlated just two. In photography, there must be both dark elements and light elements. A photo with only light would render a blank frame, as would a photo with only dark. And interestingly enough, what most people would identify as a “good” photo, has definitive darks AND lights, plus some sort of spectrum of the mid-tones throughout.

We drew the correlation to how life is a mix of light stuff and dark stuff, despite our desperate attempts to keep it all light and cheery. For some, the dark can feel overpowering for a time… but even in dark photos, there is still light. To avoid drawing a million tangents on the subject, I’m going to leave the correlation here and move on to a story about love.

Looking back now, it appears too obvious that Morgan and Andie would end up together. Both of their stories took them through very similar mountains and valleys, but not together (at least at first). Their mountain summits were beautiful and wonderful; brilliantly lit in warm sunshine with a panoramic view of the path they laid behind. But their valleys… they plodded on into thick darkness with no end in sight. I’m talking about the deep shade cast by heartbreak, divorce, child-custody fights, mental illness, abuse, broken communities. Real stuff. At times, they could tell you it felt like the darkness overwhelmed the picture of their life; at the same time, they’ll also tell you that even in those moments of overwhelming darkness, there was still light. Light they could see… and faith that there was a whole lot more light coming as long as they continued putting one foot in front of the other.

So they did. Morgan and Andie continued putting one foot in front of the other, and one day it landed them both in a young adult group at a church. He walked into the meet-up having no idea what to expect. He knew he needed to build more relationships with people at his new church “because that’s what you do when you go to a new church…. you make yourself meet new people.” He didn’t, however, expect to have his breath taken away at the sight of the firecracker blonde he would later come to know as Andie. Andie also noticed him because really, who wouldn’t notice the tall quiet blue-eyed firefighter. Really.

Their love story unfolds as most love stories do, but the more interesting and amazing part of the story is one layer deeper. For Morgan and Andie, finding each other and falling in love didn’t just become another summit in sunshine, falling in love restored the light to once overwhelmingly dark stories. The support and laughter they found in one another helped rebuild what had been broken and they continued putting one foot in front of the other. Side by side, hand in hand, they began the ascent out of the valley. Something I find absolutely dazzling about these two is their determination to not leave out or hide all the terrible-ness they’ve been through. Most people wish to leave trauma and tragedy by the side of the road as soon as humanly possible because there are so many reasons to… It’s awful to relive it when you re-tell it, it makes you wonder if you’re too damaged to find love again, it feels like it taints peoples’ perceptions of you, etc. However, Morgan and Andie haven’t left the hard parts of their journey out of their story. Instead, they’ve invited those chapters of their stories to show scale… to be the dark that accents the overwhelming light in the story of their life. The contrast brings flavor notes of joy and redemption and an relief, and it makes me want to jump up and down and fist pump with excitement.

Their wedding is coming up this weekend and I cannot wait! I’m packing some extra tissues in my camera bag…

Here are some favorites from Morgan and Andie’s Lake Cuyamaca engagement shoot…. get ready to prop that jaw back up when it falls, they’re THAT good.
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