Seeking a Word

In Digital, Film, Inspiration

In the last several years, I’ve slowly shifted away from making resolutions for New Year’s Eve.  Instead, I’ve turned my heart and attention to seeking a word.  A mantra.

I’ve let it come to me slowly and on its own terms.  Some years I’ve anxiously worried it wouldn’t land at all.  Inevitably, it arrives as a whisper in the quiet spaces of my day.  It takes root and I can’t shake it from my mind.

I’ve experienced and witnessed such tremendous loss in the last eighteen months.  I’ve felt shaken to the core and hollowed out.  Also, there’s been incredible joy and love.  I’ve been surrounded by the kindest souls and I’m grateful for the sunrise.  My word for 2018 is Gentle.

Although I’m good at extending great kindness and patience with others, I’m relentlessly critical of myself in all things.  This extends to my photography.  For many years, I believed the self criticism made me a better photographer, but I know better now.  Practice makes me a better photographer.  Paying attention makes me a better photographer…and cook, mother, friend, wife, daughter, etc.  When I catch the harsh voice rising now, I whisper: gentle, gentle, gentle.

Somewhere recently I read the following: Be unspeakably kind.  Be kinder than you need to be.  Begin with yourself.

I’ve been shooting a lot of film in the last few years and I’ve been making a lot of mistakes.  (gentle)  I’ve been failing wonderfully and learning as I go.  (gentle)  My film scans arrive and I rush to upload.  (gentle)

I was trying to make a self portrait (gentle), but I love the depth of this so much more.
I think I loaded the film incorrectly (gentle), but I love the contrast.

The focus seems off a little (gentle), but I love the feeling of movement in both of these black and white images.
Not exactly the multiple exposure I had in mind (gentle), but I love the colors and playfulness.
This is the only frame from this roll to have a light leak.  I have no idea what happened (gentle), but I adore it.  It makes me smile.
I wish I’d had the courage to talk to him (gentle), but I will next time.

I’m carrying myself into 2018 with a gentle spirit.  Be unspeakably kind, friends.  Be kinder than you need to be.  Begin with yourself.

Do you choose a word each year?  I’d love to hear about it!



  1. Laura, I love your words, your word : gentle, and your gorgeous images. You have so much talent.

  2. Laura, I have known and loved you for years and have found you to be kind beyond words, more than you ever needed to be. So happy you are sharing the gentleness with your self that you have always extended to others! Enjoy it as I have always had! Beautiful read!

  3. Beautiful post, Laura. Your writing and your images are thoughtful and inspiring.

  4. Laura, I love your word and this post resonated so much with me. I am someone who is so self-critical, and am trying hard this year to stop that habit. I especially love your realization that practice makes you a better photographer. I am going to copy the quote you found and post it in my studio as a reminder.

    • Thank you, Grace! It’s such a hard thing to be kind to ourselves, isn’t it? I wish you gentleness through your days this year. That quote just really struck me so deeply…I’m glad you feel the same!

  5. Oh Laura, I love this post. I love your word. I love that you shared this with us. My mind runs through the same chain of events. All. The. Time.

  6. Welcome to this place where I find a steady stream of inspiration, education, and encouragement. Your word is one for us all because while hurting people hurt others, gentle people extend grace and kindness – not only to themselves- but to everyone they meet. A really good start to the new year. Lovely photos and a story I can really relate to.

  7. Laura, I just love this, your words so gentle indeed. I read it in what felt like a little quiet bubble – your words are so soothing. What a beautiful debut here (no pressure…!) x

  8. Gah! Laura, this is so wonderful. “Be unspeakably kind. Be kinder than you need to be. Begin with yourself.” This ties into my word of the year so beautifully that it may become my subtext. My word of the year is self-love. Just like gentleness, I am much more inclined to shower others with love before myself. I am already enjoying having it as my north star. I hope you dive deep into gentleness in 2018.

    Welcome Laura! It is so lovely to have you here. xoxo Deb

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