2020 Week 22: Haiku

Image by Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero

Haiku is not a word historically associated with photography. It dates back from twelfth century renga which literally translates as linked verses. The opening stanza of renga, or the”starting verse” is known as hokku and became independent by the well known 17th century poet Basho. This stand-alone verse contained 17 syllables arranged in a 5-7-5 syllable stanza and had to contain a seasonal word known as a kigo in order to be considered complete. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the word haiku was introduced, Hai meaning “unusual” and ku denoting verse; today hokku and haiku have become interchangeable.

Although brief and minimal, haiku are powerful narratives that tell a story and even paint a vivid picture. When exploring haiku there are three general categories to consider: What, Where, and When. The “What” is the artist’s reaction to something affecting one or more of the senses: sight, hearing, scent, or taste (ex: hearing the wind, smelling flower petals, tasting wild berries, or seeing vivid colors). The “Where” can be a particular or obvious place or can be as vague or unknown as your own backyard. And lastly the “When” denotes a time of year, month or day. This is often conveyed by a reference to specific occurrences in nature such as specific blooms or seasonal precipitation (rain or snow).

Our challenge this week is to take a photo utilizing the haiku essence. This can be achieved by considering the historical content of haiku, minimal yet vivid, along with the what, where, and when model. Although minimalistic nature and landscape images will accomplish this challenge very well, you are not necessarily limited to them as contemporary culture could fulfill the original intent of haiku.

“First Sign” by Tonya J. Bender
Following the cold 
to allow the soul such joy
behold the first sign

For some additional creativity, I invite you to explore haiku poetry and even choose a poem that resonates with you by trying to visually capture the poets words. You can then add the poem in the description and elaborate on your thought process. For a deeper experience you could even write your own 17 syllable (5-7-5) haiku for your image like I did for the image “First Sign” above.

To recap this week’s challenge:

  • Take a new photo that captures the essence of haiku. This essence is a form of minimalism, traditionally focused on the natural world (but not limited to it), and is rooted in the experience of the What, Where, and When model often referencing the utilization of one or more of the senses.
  • Post your newly taken photo during the week of Sunday, May 24 and Saturday, May 30.
  • Please remember to comment on at least FIVE photo submissions this week by answering the question “why?” in your comments. In other words, “why do I like (or not like) this photo? or “why did this photo catch my eye?” Thank you!

The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Take a new photo for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Post your photo each week to our active communities on Facebookor Flickr (or both). Tag the photo:  #2020photochallenge #photochallenge #tempusaura
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2020 Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

Reference: The Classic Tradition of Haiku, An Anthology, Faubion Bowers.

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