#841. The Visual Haiku challenge. Results are in.

By pascaljappy | How-To

Apr 05

Haiku refers to a type of poetry that usually served as short, “ultra-dense” opening for a longer poem. It set the time, season, mood, and usually distilled the observation of a natural phenomenon and its sensory impact on the author, into a few short syllables. For this challenge, some of the rules were lifted. In particular, the observations didn’t have to be about nature itself and no rigid structure was imposed, so long as that feeling of something primal being distilled was present.

Love, friendship, smiles,
all veils reveal.
Human nature.

Even with those constraints removed, this was tough. As an optional extra, some contributors chose to send me textual haiku to match the photographs. I have attempted to do so myself, at my peril. This was not an obligation, nor was it even mentioned in the original post. Some think the photograph must stand alone and communicate a feeling without the help of any text. Others feel that the two creative forms can supplement one another. Both are obviously correct. So thank you all for your contributions and inspiring work.


Enough talk from me.
Without further ado,
Your contributions.


Pascal Berend


My take on this super duo is this: not only can each photograph be considered a Haiku, each with its own natural encounter and storyline of attraction, but the juxtaposition of the two is another. The diagonals and similar compositions really speak to me as a pair. Even colours and textures are complementary ! Great photography and greater curation still.


Philippe Berend


I’d be tempted to write very similar things about Philippe’s lovely images. A brotherly conspiration? This pair, very Japanese in vibe and texture, sees the leaf playing a similar, though possibly opposite role in both photographs. Wet vs dry. Opposite directions. Opposite colours. Opposite periods of life. Opposite energies.

But unique in nature. Yin and Yang. Chinese, then, possibly?


Pascal Jappy

Library time flies,
darkness of road home.
Sand preserved,
from storms, in nets.
Beach winter view.
Light, sensor,
out of sync.
Art of banding
Capturing bounce,
or blocking source.
A photographer.
Intense light of sun,
deep shadow of roots.

I tried to look away from nature. Into human nature and photography itself. For what it’s worth 😉


Bob Kruger

Walking on a beach
sand between my toes at night
shoes lost forgotten
The ocean beckons
children scattered far and wide
just you and me now.
Arm-in-arm we walk
silence envelopes each step
we will talk when home.
Waves break onto shore
ripples carry me along
the time of my life.

Admirative comment:

Lens reaches out.
Text reads inwards.
Perfect balance.


Werner Mäder


Absolutely superb. To me, these are so consistent and similar to one another, they look even better as a group, in a gallery. But look at each one individually, and you can invent a different story for each. Werner adds: “I made a little children’s photobook with some of the pictures and stories – unfortunately in German – dedicated to my little grandson Oskar: http://www.blurb.de/books/9346187-eis-geschichten. So, if you’re interested in those in print, look no further 🙂


Brian Nicol

A frozen blossom
Can she break free from her fears?
A choice, death or life.
A storm approaches
Hypnotised by her beauty
Dripping wet and cold.
The bliss of the wild
Escaping city loud noise
Red splash, shark fin.
On her tippy toes
looking longingly outside
my beer glass dries out!
Hoar frost on the window
a child touched by beauty
grownups hurry past.
Is that my old friend?
Or maybe my new best friend?
Well known smell decides!

Ah well, this just proves that humour and talent mix well. This last one had me in stitches on the floor and the first just blew my mind, a lady of Shalott in eternal ice. With those in between, in particular the storm, being real stunners as well. Again, pairings work really well for the purpose of this challenge, as evidenced by the two depicting man in nature in opposite, yet so similar ways. Just lovely.


Paul Perton


Beautiful, highly evocative, distilled, urban stories. Paul made those without a thought for haiku. Maybe haiku isn’t a genre. Maybe it’s a state of mind. Paul’s photos are always about stripping away the non essential from a visual story. And I’d have all of these on my wall, precisely for that reason.

And, since Paul’s sense of humour matches his immense photographic talent, let me add this. Haiku is the contraction of “haikai no ku” (light verse), ku being one of the 8 words for verse (tells you a lot about Japanese civilisation, right?) Well, among the 6 words suggested as translation for city are Shiti and Toshi. So Paul, would you prefer to name urban haiku shitiku or toshiku ? 😀


Pascal Ravach

Le traffic
Mon gagne-pain
Tu veilles sur moi
Je me sens nue
Je me sens lourde
Et je m’endors…
Fumée âcre
Mais je mange…
Le sable dans les chaussures
Le vent dans les oyats
L’air salé
Lumière du soir
Reflets argentés
Bientôt l’hiver

If the challenge had been “can you photograph a dream”, I can’t imagine Pascal’s photographs would have been any different. His photographs in previous challenges had that same quality, now that I think of it. Some artists paint from memory, rather than in front of their scene. Pascal has invented a way of photographing from memory. By stripping away the story and focusing on a moment. Is that not the definition of haiku?


Nancee Rostad


Ugh … I’m considering banning Nancee from DS. Many other photographs on this page blew my mind. But they hadn’t been made were I’d been before and didn’t make me realise just how much poetry I’d left behind. The crowds gawp at the Golden Pavilion. Nancee turns it upside down a portraits the iris. Evocative, poetic, fantastic! Four focused gems.


Werner Utsch


If we’re going minimal, let’s go minimal. Just one photograph. Small. Monochrome.

And it packs so much punch. A distilled observation of nature, anyone?

Mastery in one small square.


Kristian Wannebo


Snow, ice, leaves, trees, sleeping canoes, the ruins of a car (?), a pond, a cloud, a reflection, decking, grasses, stones, flowers, grasses, light and colour … perfect moments ?

To me, all these similar photographs of very different subjects, are linked by the passing of time.

sWhich grows slower, the tree of the stone? What will those grasses look like when the snow has melted. The tire tracks will cease to exist, when that happen. The canoes will have relocated. What will that “pond” look like when the cloud has blown away? And when itself has dried up? Will the wrench rust before the chassis? The shadows behind the vine leaves will pass with the sun. The leaves will grow past the frame thanks to the sun. The ice will melt, the reflections will go. The leaf will blow away, the flowers will be alone, then gone.

Beautiful haikus about the passing of time, in nature, by Kristian.


John Wilson


We discussed these incredible photos with John when he sent them and agreed that nothing in haiku definitions forbids scary-arse dolls 😀 That doll, man, that doll 😀

But can you distill these any more than John has? I don’t think so.

I love the play on reflections and backgrounds as a way of juxtaposing context and subject. And the use of layer blending to do the same is also very interesting. John is our innovation lab for sure.

This interesting thing is this: I fail to find stories for these. But not ideas. Ideas abound. Are ideas the underlying essence of stories?

And, while haiku are mainly observations of nature, senryū follow the same logic and structural rules, but study human nature. How about studying ideas? What would that be called? We need a name, because John’s just made it real.


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  • Steve Mallett says:

    So much loveliness, so much creativity! What a selection of images, worthy of an exhibition. I just keep scrolling up and down and looking again and again.

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    Clearly an excellent choice, this topic…. virtually each contributor has at least one photo putting me in a dream state… and some are just breathtaking!
    It gave me a warm feeling… community of sensitivities?

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Very rewarding and interesting to see the different approaches, from poetry to abstraction, and humour!
    Many photos that keep growing on me – from everyone.
    My ideas on haiku are widened…

  • Brian Nicol says:

    I really enjoyed this challenge; working on it and seeing every ones contribution. I found it great for personal inspiration and reflection. The diversity of breathtaking images is further challenging me to look more rather than just see. I think Pascal is onto something brilliant with these challenges rather than just a blog to read. I also appreciated the effort he puts into put this all together into a fascinating and thought provoking article. I keep going through the article to enjoy the images, get further insight and a creative push which is enhanced by the insightful observations provided by the article.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    It’s so interesting to see everyone’s expressions of visual haiku! I too have scrolled through the images many times to enjoy the nuances and beauty again and again. Kudos to those who chose to add haiku poems to their submissions- wow! What a wonderful challenge, Pascal – I’m looking forward to the next one, unless I’m banned

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Have fun, awarding trophies for this selection, Pascal – I couldn’t even begin to suggest which is better than whicj!

  • Dallas says:

    An excellent set of photos, some very thought provoking, well done to all.

  • Dan says:

    Great pictures! I like how they not only insulate a single subject, but actually makes me remember feelings from my past experiences. Like this one with the snow and the crop stubble: https://www.dearsusan.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/IMG_4209-768×1133.jpg which reminded me of a cold winter day on my way back to the city through rural Ontario…

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