By the time you read this, it will be 2023. Happy New Year! It's fun to think of this newsletter being among your first pieces of 2023 email.
Year's end and year's beginning prompts reflection on what's passed, what's to come, what we wish to change or make happen, what we loved, regretted, anticipate and wonder about.
2021, as you might remember, was a huge year for me with the publication of Being a Ballerina: The Power and Perfection of a Dancing Life.
2022 saw the life of that book progress, as lives do, leading it and me in directions unexpected, opening doors, forging new connections and deepening existing ones with many wonderful people-- many of whom are likely reading this right now.
2023 is a blank slate, even though its calendar is not empty. For the past few years, my sister, brother-in-law and I have made a practice of chosing for ourselves a "word of the year." The idea is to hold a single word (I guess it could also be a phrase) as a sort of guide for the coming year, reminding you of a certain priority, theme, or way of being that you want to follow. Last year, mine was "connect." This year, I think it has to be "collaborate."
I'm involved in two exciting collaborative projects right now that promise to grow substantially this year. Having lived my life so far as a solo creator, collaborating is new territory, but it's fertile and fulfilling and already very fruitful.
To me, collaboration does not have to mean in-depth co-creation. A collaborator can be a cheerleader, an idea-bouncer, or even just a shoulder to rest on.
My sister, the photographer Flynn Larsen, has been all those things and more-- much more-- to me throughout our lives. (Maybe in another newsletter I'll trip down memory lane to regale you with our stories.) I have a vivid memory of a conversation we had as teenagers. I, a high schooler, was already fixed on my career path. Flynn was just heading off to college and wrestling with what to major in. She said, "You're so lucky that you already know what you want to do with your life." I'd never thought about it that way-- how lucky I was to know from such an early age what I was meant to do.
It didn't take long for Flynn to find her career and the focus of her life's work. Her photographs are a clear reflection of her unblemished curiosity about the world and the people who walk in it. Her images elevate, celebrate, and enrich our appreciation of the simple beauty of everyday life. She's done work for every type of client, from huge corporations to politicians to business owners, schools and the family down the street. I love that Flynn's camera is truly the lens through which we can see the world as she does, with her sensibility and sensitivity, her love. Our mom once said to me, "Flynn is a natural mother," and that maternal instinct and empathy comes through in Flynn's photos.
What I'm most excited about for Flynn's 2023 is a new aspect of her photography work that she, her husband Sean, and I talked about a lot over the holidays. Flynn's made photo books for our family for years-- beautifully bound hard or soft cover volumes, some short, some long, that encapsulate events, time periods, and people. The first she made was "Juniper: The First Three Months or So," full of images of those gone-too-soon early weeks of her daughter's life. A similar book followed a few years later for her son, as have others. And now that I think of it, she and I made one together, years ago, for my parents' 25th anniversary! Foreshadowing?
Recently, Flynn has started making photo books for clients, doing shoots for a family and then organizing, designing, and producing the images into a keepsake much more valuable than a bunch of iCloud folders. Here are a few examples; you can see many more on her website: https://flynnlarsen.com/
May 2023 be a year worth commemorating for you and your loved ones, for reasons of joy, achievement, reunion, goodness and the simple moments of everyday life.