This week, show us what being alone means to you.

Editors’ Note: Starting February 8, we’ll publish Weekly Photo Challenges on Wednesdays, instead of Fridays as we currently do.

“Solitude is the place of purification.” — Martin Buber

Many people equate solitude with loneliness, but I find it comforting and restorative. Because of social media’s ubiquity, we are constantly connected to others. Even when we are physically alone, we are very rarely truly solitary. Unplugging is good, and introspection is important, but most of us don’t get enough opportunity to do either.

Little girl, big ocean. Photo by Jen Hooks.

Little girl, big ocean. Photo by Jen Hooks.

“We live in a very tense society. We are pulled apart, and we all need to learn how to pull ourselves together. I think that at least part of the answer lies in solitude.” — Helen Hayes

My husband and I are both “social introverts”, and we are raising our children to prize solitude. My eldest (pictured above) and middle daughters enjoy their personal time very much, and I’m hopeful that security in solitude will help them cope with life’s inevitable, occasional loneliness. Even our youngest, at three, is comfortable with being alone. For our family, we find that just the right amount of solitude makes together time that much sweeter.

This week, show us what being alone means to you. If you’re finding yourself surrounded by too many people, or too many sensations, or too many obligations, take a quiet moment for yourself. Seek solitude, and reset. Or, perhaps you find yourself isolated too often, and solitude evokes negative emotions that photography can help you work through.

I look forward to seeing your interpretations of this challenge!

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  1. I’ve been a winter caretaker on a remote island off the coast of New England for 20 years, and during that time, I’ve not only built and shown a portfolio of hundreds of fine-art black & white photographs, I’ve filled dozens of journals, published a book (*about* solitude and creativity!), and composed a couple dozen original songs which I’m crowdfunding for right now. The point of the album is to connect other artists to work created in solitude in order to examine the experience of creating in solitude with that of creating with others.


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