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I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.

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My One Word For 2019: TRUST

January 30, 2019

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know that I take choosing a word for each year very seriously.

In a way, it sets the theme for my year because it typically describes the spirit of all of my goals wrapped up into one, memorable word. Most of the big, intentional decisions that I make are made with my word in mind and that helps push me forward and keep my focus (which ironically was my word in 2017).

Every year I am amazed how my “word” plays out in my life.

At the beginning of the year, the word is so clearly presented to me though there isn’t a ton of clarity for how it will affect me and the goals I have in mind. I love having moments throughout the year where I say to myself “Oh my gosh! This has everything to do with my word!”

It reminds me that even when things feel a little out of control, there is a plan and it will all makes sense eventually…which a lot of times is just the encouragement I need!

My One Word 2018: CULTIVATE

Last year, my word was CULTIVATE. This word has played out in so, so many ways throughout the past 365 days. My purpose was to cultivate, or intentionally develop, things in my life: relationships, skills, careers, friendships, passions.

Boy have I been able to do all of those things –– here’s a quick recap:

  • I quit my job at Huify in the beginning of the year. This was scary but gave me the time to focus on growing Dakota Hersey Photography, spend more time with Kyle, and meet a ton more people in the industry.
  • I spent 4 months searching for jobs, which allowed me endless opportunities to work on building my #dakotaherseyseniors community, set up a brand new website and CRM system, and organize myself to run the business when I did start my next full time position.
  • I started as an account executive at IMPACT which brought me a brand new family! I met so many new people and was able to dive right back into my love of inbound marketing and continue to grow in those skills.
  • I attended multiple workshops throughout the year with other photographers (Hope Taylor’s senior posing course filming, Hope Taylor’s alumni weekend in Nashville, and Katelyn James’ last workshop!!!) For the first time I had friends in the industry that I could talk to and be encouraged by, which is something that I didn’t even know how much I was missing.

By the end of the year, I had been on a complete roller coaster of emotions and excitement with all of the opportunities for growth.

Talk about cultivating.

Life Going Into 2019

As the year began to come to a close, I’ll be honest…I was really unhappy.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of work at my full time job combined with keeping up with the growth from Dakota Hersey Photography. I wasn’t able to pursue the things that I felt would move me to the next level in my career and I had piles of notes from workshops that I had no time to implement into the business.

I was frustrated, exhausted, and confused as to why things weren’t really working out after a year of trying really hard to set myself up for a life that had all of the things I loved.

One thing became extremely clear –– it was time to take Dakota Hersey Photography full time.

Like never before, I am so invested in the growth and operations of this business I’ve worked so hard on. I am no longer afraid of losing my love for it because I’m not just taking photos. I’m building into the lives of my seniors and couples and I am creating a community that I genuinely love to be a part of.

And I’m ready to spend all of my time chasing that dream.

I let IMPACT know that I would be transitioning out of my position to pursue the entrepreneurial dream. While this was an extremely nerve-wracking move, I also had an unexplainable peace about it. This was the right choice.

My One Word for 2019: TRUST

As I was thinking about what word would encapsulate the year that I would be taking one of the the biggest leaps anyone can make to believe in myself and the business I’ve built, I was having a really hard time coming up with something.

Growth? That’s definitely going to happen, but doesn’t describe what I’ll need mentally to push me forward.

Brave? Absolutely that will be a reminder to myself throughout the year, but it didn’t quite sit right with me.

That’s when it hit me. Per usual, a word was placed in front of me and followed me around relentlessly for about a week and a half.


A firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

I cannot think of anything that speaks clearer to me when I think about 2019. I will need to have trust in the process, knowing that there will surely be ups and downs. I will need to have trust in the people around me as I begin to learn that I can’t do everything by myself. I will need to have trust that the right clients will find their way to me as long as I put myself out there.

Most importantly, I will need to have trust in myself that I can do this.

I am excited for all that will come in 2019. If I thought 2018 was crazy, I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite yet!!

I am currently filling out my 2019 #Powersheets from Cultivate What Matters as an exercise to dig deeper into my yearly and monthly goals. I will be posting about this process as well so you can follow along! (and so I can look back on these in a few years to see how far I’ve come!!)

Here’s to 2019 and choosing a word that is going to take us to the next level and closer to a life we love 🥂

Have you chosen your one word for 2019? I’d love to hear it in the comments below! I am still cultivating community and relationships and I’d love to cheer you along!!


I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer Helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.

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