The Importance of Solitude in Photography

Photograph/Sarang Naik

Solitude gives you time to reflect and discover yourself. Photograph/Sarang Naik

Sarang Naik shares his thoughts on solitude and why it is necessary for photographers.

This story was originally published in May 2014.

“To be creative you must create a space for yourself where you can be undisturbed… separate from everyday concerns.” – John Cleese, English actor and writer.

We all are inherently social creatures. No doubt, for most of us, photography is a great way to come together and have a fun time. You get to meet new people and discuss gizmos and techniques with them.

However, most of the time, photography ends up taking the back seat and becoming an excuse to get out of the house and socialise. And it is fine if that’s all you want. But if you are serious about your work and want to see it grow, then breaking away from the herd is probably the best thing you can do for yourself.

Our society often undermines the importance of solitude. We all have different temperaments and dispositions, but in the end we all need some alone time to put things in perspective. If you look at the lives of great creatives, photographers or otherwise, you will find that they spent a lot of time mastering their craft alone and considered solitude of utmost importance to produce meaningful work.

“Talent is nurtured in solitude… A creation of importance can only be produced when its author isolates himself, it is a child of solitude.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Göethe, German writer and statesman.

But why did they consciously choose solitude? How will it help you get better at your photography? Here are a few benefits you will find if you shoot alone:

1. You are free to go wherever you want. You can explore at your own pace and wait out for the right moment as long as you want.

2. It makes you more aware of your surroundings. When you aren’t constantly talking to someone, you start noticing the little quirks and details of a place.

3. It gives you time to reflect and discover yourself. Your mind opens up to questions which you have no time to address when you are with some one else: Why did you compose like that? What do you want to say through your work? Where are you going with your photography and your life? What are your weaknesses?

4. It forces you to take control. When you are alone, you cannot rely on others to make important decisions for you. You learn to seriously think about and take responsibility of every aspect of your photography.

5. It becomes a kind of meditation, calming your mind and helping you find peace. That, in turn, opens up the doors of creativity. Your mind can go in any direction it wants and no one is there to judge you.

6. It helps you to distance yourself from external influences and find your own voice. You become more proactive than reactive.

Of course, this approach also has its own disadvantages. The biggest challenge most people face is having the discipline to make themselves get up and go shoot on their own. Having someone for company makes it much easier. Then there is the boredom that accompanies prolonged solitude.

In the end, it’s a matter of keeping a balance. We need to connect with people to be part of something bigger than ourselves… but we also need solitude to let our inner voice speak out.

“Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine.” – Honoré de Balzac, French novelist and playwright.

Photograph/Sarang Naik

We need to keep a balance between solitude and participation. Photograph/Sarang Naik

Tags: creative, Creativity, Solitude, Sarang Naik, balance, introspective, shooting alone, isolation, The Importance of Solitude in Photography, meditation, Perspectives, Opinions