Have you chosen your Word of the Year for 2021? | Barbara Bell Photography

I mentioned in a previous blog post that my 2020 word of the year was “Create.”  I wanted to create more than I consumed.  I wanted to get back to why I started a photography business – to create beautiful photographs to inspire families to share their memories of these milestone moments. Of course, when I chose this word, I had no idea that a global pandemic would stop life as we knew it.

When I was considering what one word I wanted as my word of the year for 2021, I really had to give some thought to what I wanted this year to look like.

Why Choose a Word of the Year

A Word of the Year is often used as a guiding principle in the new year.  The belief is that having a single word or a theme to guide you and what you want to embrace more of in the coming year helps to keep it simple. For me, it has been a guide that helps me to reach goals in a more intentional way.

One Word to Guide Your Year

My 2020 word of the year served me so well, even though no one could have fathomed what 2020 had in store for all of us.  Last year’s word of the year was “create,” and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to creatively collaborate with families, small business owners, graduating seniors, and all the pets that showed up in front of my camera last year.  I am grateful for the opportunities to create beautiful and personal artwork for each family.  (I am also grateful to have discovered 96 new and different ways to cook chicken, but that’s a story for another time.)

Your one word, that word of the year that you choose, is a great way to stay grounded, and it reminds me to always be where my feet are. It helps in staying out of the fray of things, to hone your focus, and not to get distracted.

How to Choose Your Word of the Year

There’s no right way – and no one way – to choose the right word for you and for your year ahead.  It can be a moment of quiet reflection or at the back of your mind and percolating as you do all your everyday things.  It can also be talking it out loud and throwing ideas around with the people you trust the most. My word of the year came out using both methods. I had been thinking about it and then brought it up to my husband as we talked through what I wanted to accomplish, what I wanted to give, and what I was seeking to fill my own well.

I always try out different words and sometimes will look up the actual definition to ensure I am on track with what I am seeking.

Some people create vision boards, and some people create resolutions.  My word of the year has always helped me to focus on my goals, and we all need to try different things until we find what works for each of us.

My Word of the Year

As a photographer, I am always seeking the light.  The way it falls on a subject, as well as the way it lights up a space.  In fact, the word photograph evolved from the ancient Greek words phot-, “light,” and graph-, “writing,” which were combined to create the word for taking pictures — “light writing.”  We who photograph and capture images are writing with the light.

When I thought about what I wanted to accomplish this year, I knew it had to be about opening up space … for myself and for others. When a person steps in front of my camera, I want them to feel comfortable so as to capture their most authentic selves. It’s the laughter and hugs of a family that I love to capture, as well as the snuggle between a pet and their owners. For the small business owners, I want to amplify their mission and their message.  All of that is about showing the world what you believe in, what you hold dear, and photographers are historians and archivists who capture these moments of our lives.

So…the word?

I chose Illuminate.

From the Latin verb illuminare, from in- ‘upon’ + lumen, lumin- ‘light’.  For me, it is about making things visible like sharing the stories of others. It is about making things brighter by shining a light on it and by sharing what we know.  It’s about showing up, capturing, and writing with light so that years from now, we have this one moment in time that we can look back and remember how much we were loved, how much we have accomplished, and how much more we can do when we are confident about the direction of our dreams.  Our word of the year can help us to do all of this.

Have you chosen a word of the year?  If so, drop me a line. I’d love to hear what you chose!