2021: It’s kind of a big deal…

I really love making new year’s resolutions. I love the feelings of newness, possibility and opportunity that thinking about the year ahead engenders. Sitting down with a notebook, a favorite pen and a head of full of dreams on January 1st inevitably makes me feel hopeful and excited. I know quite well that the recognition of January 1 as the beginning of something new is totally arbitrary. And I know, too, that I rarely stick to the letter of my goals throughout the year. But something about allowing myself to think about what could be, what I could do, what I could make of the coming twelve months, makes me joyful.

And surprisingly, this year was no different. These past ten months have been full of challenges, sorrows and fear. (Though, of course, that is not to say that there hasn’t been joy, love, happiness and contentment mixed in there, too.) I had thought that because 2020 was so hard and so different, that planning my year ahead would be tinged with the sadness of the year left behind. In fact, it was quite the opposite. 

With 2020 under my belt, I felt emboldened to dream bigger and imagine more boldly what 2021 could be, both personally and professionally. I was able to reflect with joy on so much of the work I did in 2020 and to use that joy as my motivation to plan the coming 12 months. 

Without further ado, here are my 2021 goals and resolutions for my business:

Be brave, be me!

You may have noticed that toward the end of last year I started a series of posts on my Instagram account with the hashtag #gettotknowcatherinehilcove. For a long time, I’ve felt unsure (and frankly a bit scared!) about sharing my authentic voice and personality online. In October, I gave myself the challenge of being more authentically me on social media and I’m so glad I did.

For the last year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how who I am influences how I work. My personality and my life experience inform how I see the world through my camera and how I document my clients’ beautiful lives. It felt intuitively apt, then, to share more of myself, my personality and my real life with everyone who might be interested.

It feels like my intuition was a pretty good guide and pushing myself to be more “me” in the public sphere just felt right. So for 2021, I’ll be acting as my own personal cheerleader, encouraging hesitant-me to continue to share more of who I am, how I see the world and what I care about with anyone who would care to follow along. (You can see some of this content on Facebook, too!)

Try new things and then try more new things!

I feel incredibly lucky to have a job that I genuinely love. Connecting with families and photographing their lives and all the love they share brings me so much joy. I can’t wait to see new and familiar faces through my camera throughout this coming year. I’d bet that your family’s 2021 story will be one to remember and I would count myself lucky to be able to help you document it. (Stay tuned for new offerings in the works that will help you do just that!)

But there are also new challenges that I’ve set for myself this year. I would be delighted to photograph more weddings. I would love to document more first days of babies’ lives. I would be honored to create more unique school portraits for more amazing kids.

And then there are more personal projects that I very much want to work on. There are ways in which I’d like to challenge myself to create new kinds of work and there are projects I’ve worked on in the past that I’d like to pick up again (hello, self-portraits!). New things are always a little bit scary (for me at least), but I want to make sure I use that bit of fear as a motivator and not as excuse to shy away from growth.

Practice gratitude, always.

The past year was chalk full of lessons to learn, whether we were ready for them or not. We have all been forced to adapt and to change in unexpected ways and without much warning. Figuring out how to adjust to a world that changed so drastically, so suddenly was a challenge (for me, at least!).

One of the habits that has helped me immensely during the past year has been actively practicing gratitude. Whether my family and I talk about what we’re grateful for at dinner time or I force myself to make a list of three things that I’m grateful for before starting work for the day, the act of doing so helps me hold on to what is good when so much feels so uncertain.

A happy side effect of this personal practice has been a greater ability to feel grateful in other aspects of my life. And oh, how I am grateful for my business! Every job this year was a gift and I was deeply grateful for each and every family who trusted me to document their family story in 2020. There was nothing in my business that I took for granted this year and my heart was fuller because of each and every opportunity I was given. And this is a practice and a mindset that I want to extend indefinitely.

You all filled my bucket (as they teach our children to say in elementary school)–thank you!

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Catherine Hilcove Photography: Family Photography, Madison WI