This photography project, spanning over three decades, culminating during the Covid 19 pandemic, addresses the complexities of solitude. I chose to use peopled restaurant interiors as a metaphor to explore what it means to be alone in public. When does being alone in any environment become the estrangement of anonymity or feeling lonely and when is being alone solitude, bring pleasure or fullness of joy? Each diner in ‘Dining Alone…’ invites viewers to indulge in considering points of view.

I started this portrait series in the 1980’s. Over the course of time, I recognized that the series reflected trends such as in fashion, smoking, technology and culture. For example, in New York City, I remember well when smoking in restaurants became prohibited. Similarly, prior to the Covid 19 pandemic, while traveling In Asia, I noticed that even in restaurants, so many people wore masks until their food was been served. Masks seemed to be unique to Asia at the time. During the COVID-19 pandemic, masks became prevalent in the United States as well. Despite these hints of time or place, I felt that my work was universal and timeless. Little did I anticipate that this would become Part I. of my book and that I would be adding a Part II.

One day during the COVID Pandemic, I was having a coffee by myself, in one of the outdoor restaurant spaces. Though I was reluctant, I decided to expand the scope of my book so that I could include what seemed to take my project ‘DINING ALONE In the Company of Solitude’ to a completely different realm. Worldwide, nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, I realized the impact that the virus had on so many of us. So many of us were cast into severe isolation from ond another. Yet somehow, I believe, that despite our isolation, we were also connected through our realization that we were all in this together and we all shared the same vulnerabilities. Perhaps the images in Part II will convey to posterity something of what we have lived through in the sphere of public dining with the presence of a lethal and highly contagious virus. Overall, the restaurant scene during the pandemic served as a symbol of how far beyond the norm we have been forced to live. The images in Part II seemed so surreal to me. I saw these strangely constructed dining spaces popping up all around us. Some were decorated as high-end, themed restaurants while others were merely plywood shack-like spaces with heaters to keep people warm. Both resembled enlarged dioramas. In Part I, diners might have been separated by a dividing built-in with plastic flowers inside which separated adjoining booth tables whereas now diners were separated by plastic and plexiglass walls, private tents and even plastic bubbles in Part II. These new dining constraints that were all around me, felt comforting and sometimes isolating, but very timely, and of course as universal as the imagery in Part I. but an important part of history. My hope is that our experiences of dining alone during the pandemic, will serve as an encouraging reminder that we found a way to came to terms with our aloneness again.

-Nancy Scherl




Nancy Scherl is a fine art photographer based in New York City. She describes her work as cinematic. Stylistically, Nancy emulates cinema verité, often posing her subjects, offering subtle direction, and asking them to “act out” how they feel while they are posed in a specific setting. The setting is frequently enhanced with cinematic lighting to create a specific ambience. Nancy’s more candid portraits also emulate cinema verité, but here she both blurs the boundaries between pictorial and street genres and draws from Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment.” Her camerawork may include a predetermined background and sometimes controlled lighting, but she will capture her subjects more spontaneously, once they appear within her camera frame.

Nancy’s also creates fictional narratives, which she refers to as Staged Fantasies. As a provocateur, she lures viewers into her scientifically impossible visual worlds, designed to intrigue viewers into considering anew their formerly trusted points of view and aspects of the human condition.

Nancy completed an MFA in Photography, Video and Related Media at New York City’s School of Visual Arts, following her undergraduate studies in documentary and fine art photography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a member of the American Society of Media Photographers, where she served as a board member from 2016 to 2019, and currently serves as president on the board of the Katonah Museum Artists’ Association (KMAA) in Katonah, New York.

Among other honors, Nancy’s work earned a place in the 2021 Worldwide Photography Gala Awards’ 16th Julia Margaret Cameron Awards (JMCA) and Photolucida’s 2018 Critical Mass Top 200. She received two first-place awards in the 2016 Mos- cow International Foto Awards and a bronze award in the 2016 Tokyo International Foto Awards. Her work has appeared in numerous shows, including the A Smith Gallery Portraits exhibition in 2020; South x Southeast 2020’s Photogallery; the Katonah Museum of Art’s Tri-State Juried Exhibition Signals in Katonah, New York, in 2018; and the Katonah Museum Artists’ Association juried show Time and Place at the Hammond Museum in North Salem, New York, in 2015.

For additional details visit