Hidden away between the brick walls of our tiny row-house, Abby and I keep a safe filled mostly with standard legal documents—birth certificates, tax returns, and the like. A few days ago, I unfastened its metal latch and after some rifling, recovered the artifact I had been seeking: a plain, faded-white envelope, my name in cursive, handwritten in the center. Inside, two loose-leaf pages of yellow notebook paper, folded in thirds, retain more of the same script—my mother’s handwriting, from the letter she wrote to me days before passing away. She had fought valiantly for several years against the cancer in her body, but in the autumn of ‘95 she knew her fight was coming to an end. At the time I was nine years old, and her letter ensured I would always know the strength and depth of her love for me.

More than twenty years have since passed, and that letter still holds immense sway over my heart. These life-altering moments—of joy, of sorrow, or a mingling of the two—mark us forever. Secrets, kisses, tears, embraces—we carry them with us through life and they become part of who we are. I have begun to understand more of why I am drawn to this work: because a song, a photograph, or a handwritten letter can mine the hidden places of our hearts.

This past year many of you have encouraged me and reminded me of truth in ways both small and large. Most significantly, to my best-friend, favorite person, and lovely wife, Abby: thank you for loving me for who I am, for believing in me always, and for journeying through life by my side. To my good friend and brother, Levi: thank you for the myriad of ways you have encouraged me at every step. You are an inspiration in photography, yes, but more importantly, in life as a whole. To the many other creative teams and individuals I have had the honor of learning from, collaborating with, and working alongside this past year, thank you. I honestly believe we are all in this together. A special thanks to my buddy Matt, and his talented team at Forget Me Not Media: you all have treated me with such kindness, and are some of my favorite folks to work alongside. And finally, to the couples who opened their lives and hearts to me, shared their joy, and trusted my vision: with all my heart, thank you. Your stories allow me to do what I love.

Here’s to a new year committed to keeping perspective, focusing on the unseen and intangible, loving others well, and on giving of myself. Much love, friends. See you along the path.