Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.


In several prior posts, I mentioned attending an absolutely superb Oregon Coast workshop taught by Nancy Rotenberg. As part of that workshop experience, we were given several 'assignments' to help us develop our vision and focus. One of these assignments was to write a haiku to accompany one of the photographs we had taken. Sounds silly, right? Turns out it was anything but. The idea was to have us take an image and hone down on the singular idea that we were trying to convey; to break the image down to its most basic elements. As Nancy puts it in her book (see below), writing haiku helps a photographer to "focus on essence". The exercise was helpful not so much in finding an image already taken and analyzing it, but, rather, in learning to get into a 'haiku state of mind' in order to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of what one is aiming for when making photographs.

Nancy talks about this exercise in her excellent book entitled "Photography and the Creative Life", which is self-published and available from her website. It is a book well worth owning not only for the beautiful images, but also to gain a deeper understanding of the creative process.

Rather than discuss this further, I will mention why I decided to write about photo-ku at this particular point in time. One of the things I enjoy is discovering new photographers and their work, usually through their websites. When folks make comments on the blog, I am usually interested in seeing what type of work they are doing and, if they have a profile, I take a look at their website.

Stephen Durbin made a comment regarding my blog post entitled "Portraying The Unthinkable", which led me to his website. I not only enjoyed his wonderful images, but found that he has an entire page where each of the images is associated with a haiku that he has written! This immediately made me think about the workshop exercise that we had done.

Take a look at his images and the associated haiku here and I think you will understand the point of the exercise. Next time you photograph give 'the haiku state of mind' a try and see what happens.