I Believe in Love

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Copyright: Kelly Lyle Photography

Sarah and Jeff went to see the Pixar movie Brave, and after seeing it, Sarah rushed to her mother, Pam, telling her they just had to see the movie sitting by her side.

So today we left the comfort of our air conditioned home, loaded up the car with our youngest daughter Ellyn, and we picked Sarah up for a matinee showing.

And yes, at the end of the movie, we all cried. Buckets.

Kelly Lyle Photography Central Illinois Wedding Photographer Bloomington Normal Champaign SpringfieldPINIMAGE

Copyright: Kelly Lyle Photography


Am I admitting I cried at an animated movie about a girl?

Okay, yes, so I cried, I admit it! But come on, it was a story about mothers, daughters, and love! And a really good story about love!!

As I sat watching the movie I let my mind go into the make believe world created by the Pixar geniuses and let my heart become gripped with the story.

A love story between a mother and her daughter.

A love story between a family.

Sigh. Did I mention that the movie was a really, really, good love story?

Which is why Sarah said she HAD to see it with her mother by her side. I am just glad I got included in the mix.

The story was just so moving, and the climax so compelling, I was simply on the edge of my seat.

That’s when the tears came. During the climax. Well, of course, before the tears the lump in the throat grew larger and larger, regardless of how cliché that sounds. It did not help that in my peripheral vision I could see Pam holding her hands up to the sides of her face, fighting back tears, fearing to even to take a breath.

I was caught. You know that feeling you get in your chest that only your brain comprehends, like your best friend just moved across the world and you know you are never going to see him or her again, and you just want to sob, and wail, and sob some more until you are certain there isn’t another tear left in your body? It’s the kind of hysterical sobbing you do when you can’t even catch your breath? That’s the kind that was going on inside my head during the climax, and I knew if I were to accidentally let a whimper slip out, I was going to be curled up on the floor with the stale, buttered popcorn mopping my tears up with dirty napkins.

PINIMAGEBut I held it in, bravely, except for the little bit that leaked down my cheeks.

Caught up in the moment I just kept asking myself, “Why does this deep expression of love always get me so choked up?” I am sure that other men laugh at me, but who cares, I am softer than D.Q. ice cream.

Deep love beautiful to see and at the same time mysterious. Who hasn’t tried to wrap their mind around it? How many poets and song writers and story tellers have tried to help us find the perfect expression of love? And if it could be perfectly stated in words, how would it be stated?

I don’t have the answer, well, the idea of sacrificing yourself for someone else does come to mind, but I don’t know how to put the depth of love in words. All I can do is just keep prodding around in the forest of my mind trying to find thoughts that may shed a bit of light on the darkness.

Trying to figure out mysteries is kind of like searching a dark forest, you know what I mean?

Imagine walking through a foggy, dense forest where puddles of light illuminate just one thing or another. You can see one part of the forest very clearly, the part that is in the light, but the rest just stays in a dark haze of mystery.

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Copyright: Kelly Lyle Photography

I was trying to put into words the specific cause for the intense feelings and emotions that allowed my soul to leak subtlety out of my eyes, when I began thinking about the couples I photograph. Rarely is my photography not on my mind. It often politely lingers around the edges of my thoughts waiting for an invitation to join the conversation.

Early on, when I first became a photographer, I told a master photographer, Ben Jones, how I wanted to create beautiful images so badly that my heart ached. I can’t even put the feeling into words and explain what the feeling means, I just know the feeling is there. It is a longing to capture something that surpasses words, giving my audience a reason to pause and think about what has been captured. The best I can describe it is a desire to capture the holy interaction between a couple that is so pure and real it conveys what they feel towards each other in their souls. Something inside them the world doesn’t always get to see.

For the longest time I have been trying to find my “photographic identity,” the set of fingerprints I leave all over an image that make the images uniquely mine.

Sitting in the dark theater with my wife and my two daughters and watching a movie about love helped me inch a little closer to what my photographic fingerprints might be, what causes my heart to ache for the images I want to create.  It isn’t the love story, it is the story of love

I believe in the power of love. I believe in the beauty of love. I believe in the strength of love.  I believe in the fragility of love. I believe in the wholeness of love. When does this list stop? When we find the end of people, or interactions, or ideas?


Within each one of those descriptors: power, beauty, strength, fragility, wholeness…fill in the blank…a story of love waits to be discovered.

Driving home from the movie my mind was on the couples I photograph for engagements and weddings. I want to be able to see past the day, past the dress and the tuxedo, past the ceremony and really see the couples.

A story of love is waiting to be told, a secret story held deeply within their hearts, a story only the two of them can really understand. Sometimes the story cannot be effectively told in words or expressed in writing.

As a photographer, what can I do to help them bring the mystery of their love out from their hearts and  have it reflected in their eyes, their expression, and their interaction?

Such would be the desire that aches within my beating heart. Perhaps I would be able to use my lens to help them see what words don’t always express.

Isn’t it true about this whole mystery of love? Sometimes it just can’t be expressed in words, but it can be expressed in a glance, in a kiss, in a whisper of the soul from one person to the other. And the coolest thing, the glance, the kiss, and the whisper can be returned.

Perhaps that is the story I so want to tell when I photograph couples. I want to tap into the story they hold deep within themselves that rarely any other person can see, and capturePINIMAGEthe fleeting moment when it leaks out of their expression


Because I believe in love!

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