Written by W Staff

Photograph by Lea Winkler.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find the appropriate words to express our emotions surrounding social isolation, quarantine, and the stressors that have come with the coronavirus pandemic. So W Magazine turned to 18 of its favorite photographers, and asked each one to share a single inspiring image from their archive that’s keeping them going during this time. Their choice photographs sum up feelings of destitution and loneliness—but they also represent hope, love, and peace. It’s our intention that these pictures lift you up and remind you: a brighter future is expected on the horizon.

Untitled (2012), Geordie Wood

“I was walking the streets in Northern India many years ago and stumbled on these two teenagers in the park laying together. Sometimes I feel like I live in a world of self-serious imagery and was always proud this image felt sincere, universal, and tender.”

Dhani and the Cat (August 2019), Hailey Heaton

“I met Dhani and his family last summer staying with them for three nights deep in the mountains in Olivella, Spain, just south of Barcelona. The house runs on complete solar power and all we really had were each other’s company, music, and the scenery. I’ve remained in touch with them and hope to one day reunite with them once the dust settles from the virus.”

Deva Presence (2017), Alex Lockett

“I took this picture during a two-month experiment of going offline in a Greek meditation community. During that time, I felt some of the inner noise clear out and I connected with people in a way I had never experienced before. The silence and solitude we are experiencing around us right now, though somber, makes me think of this time. I wonder if it could be an opportunity to clear out some of the noise around us, look inside ourselves and consider what meaningful human connection really is.”

Man Stretching—Coney Island (August 2019), Justin Von Oldershausen

“I spent a lot of time last summer walking around Coney Island. I saw him stretching and asked if I could take a photograph. He said ‘Yes, but make me look good.’ I never got the chance to ask his opinion. Looking at this picture in the context of now, it makes you appreciate all the fleeting moments we share with others and the memories we hold onto of them.”

Kat (2020), Lauren Withrow

“My friend, Kanada, and I went out near the springs in Austin to take photos before she left for her new life journey. We arrived and it was empty except for one area and we both felt confusion and sadness seeing the springs dry. We were able to find this one spot still with water and it brought forward a symbol of hope in my heart during these confusing and dangerous times. The water isn’t all gone…just a little low, and it can all come back and even stronger than before.”

The Long Road Home (2020), Olivia Bee

“Nature and beauty are the things helping me survive mentally right now.”

Mariska Eyes (2020), Annie Powers

“Over the years, I have been compiling a collection of hand photographs, which feels especially poignant at this moment. On this day, Mariska told me that her extra eyes protect her. I found her self-awareness inspiring, and I hope the image relays the importance of taking care of yourself and others.”

23rd March, 6:30am, Somerset (2020), Charlie Gates

“This photo makes me think that spring is on its way—something to look forward to. Thinking beyond the quarantine. The warm, long, sunny days that will make everything better.”

Window Sill (2018), Marisa Chafetz

“I made this photo during a trip to a commune. The window sill is from the kitchen of a young woman named Hannah, who uses plants that she grows and forages to make medicine and healing balms. I have been thinking of how essential human collectivity is to our survival, and how incredibly valuable it is to support one another and the earth. It becomes obvious how much we all need each other during times of crisis.”

“I’m inspired by the prospect of end-of-summer carnivals and comeback parties—we’ll never take them for granted again.”

Alive After Five, Anaconda, MT (2017), Jacq Harriet

Sunrise, June, Texas (2016), Lindsay Ellary

“I took this photo almost four years ago while swimming in a lake at sunrise with my two best friends. I look at it now and can feel the closeness we shared, the warm mud, water, air, the passage of time, the continuation of things, and it all feels pleasantly simple.”

Shoulder (2019), David Uzochukwu

“It is frighteningly radical to care for each other—so we have to make it our second nature.”

Important Things (March 2020), Andrew Jacobs

“In this time of isolation, I am lucky enough to share that time with the people I love; my partner, Jackie, and cat, Frankie. I should share more photographs of them.”

Untitled (2020), Stuart Winecoff

“In Marrakech, I asked this man if I could take his portrait, and without prompting him he raised his arms and made a series of wild, heart-wrenching expressions. This unexpected, visceral and ultimately fleeting moment shared between him and I reminds me how surprising and vulnerable the human condition can be, and to be as tender toward others as I can, especially in the role of photographer.”

Elizabeth and Michael Cuddling Hank and Finn at Home, Los Angeles, California (2019), Lea Winkler

“Companionship has the ability to bring comfort in the midst of the uncertainty. The palpable tenderness keeps me wishing for warmer days, where we all can come together again.”

Y Shaped Flowers in Hampstead Heath (2018), Molly Matalon

“This picture feels important and relevant. The most obvious point is that it’s a spring flower, outside taller than the rest, and is a pair held up by one stem. It’s like ‘alone together,’ you know?”

Forest Hills, Queens (2018), Timothy Sean O’Connell

“This photograph helps me appreciate all that I had taken for granted.”

Sky House (2018), Valerie Chiang

“I find some comfort in this little house I passed on a walk two summers ago, tucked away in a village in Scotland. I wish I were there now, and look forward to the day when I can go back.”