#1114. Visual Haikus Redux

By Bob Kruger | Art & Creativity

May 05

Two years ago, I and others submitted photographs in response to a Dear Susan challenge entitled “Visual Haiku” (DS #841). Recently reviewing photographs I have taken over the past five years brought this challenge to mind. I wished to enhance the emotional impact of these photos through the addition of a haiku inspired by each.

In this series of photos, I added my words to the images using this simple poetic form. A haiku, or a photograph, derives its power from the same place as a short story. Both strike quickly. An extreme example of a short story that has been attributed to Earnest Hemmingway, is only six words: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn”. Such an impact is what these photographs and each associated haiku aspire to convey.

So now, I enlist your patience in viewing a few of the photographs I have captured over the years, their back stories, and the haikus I have written for each, which reflects the emotion I felt as I clicked the shutter.

I walked along the Pacific Ocean at Cannon Beach, Oregon some years back. There were two boys playing in the surf on their wake boards, mindless and free. One responded to me and my camera with two thumbs pointed to the sky. I thought: such unabashed joy! as I pushed the shutter.

time of my life

waves break onto shore
ripples carry me along
the time of my life


I happened upon the sight of a pair of shoes and some extinguished coals on the same beach where I took the previous photo. I photographed these items exactly as I found them. What could explain this sight? Young love perhaps?


walking on a beach,
you beside me, embers burn
shoes lost,forgotten


And a third photo on the same beach: two people flanked byt hree empty chairs. I have three grown children who have moved on to make lives of their own. No two live in the same state. Perhaps this couple finds themselves in much the same situation.

you and me

the ocean beckons
children scattered far and wide
just you and me now


I visited a farmer’s market one Saturday morning and ran into this little fellow helping his parents sell produce. Many hands were extended, my wife’s hand holding a five-dollar bill. The lad looked a bit confused.


everyone wants one
a moment’s hesitation
I just can’t decide


I was walking down a Portland, Oregon street next to a playground. These four children appeared to be playing a very serious game. One was a little taller, clearly in charge.


attention soldiers
orders from the general
intent they listen


My youngest grandson and I visited an aquarium at the Omaha, Nebraska Zoo several years ago. He was mesmerized by a parading school of fish. He appeared to be performing some sort of incantation for their benefit.


condemned forever
to swim in endless circles
I grant you freedom


My oldest daughter absolutely adores French bulldogs. She met this one on the streets of Portland. They acted like they had known one another forever.


a brief encounter
the two instantly bonding
friends in a moment


There is a trail that follows the banks of Morgan Creek, not too far from where I live in Chapel Hill, NC. It is a popular path for families to walk on weekends. These three children and their dog (at least I think it was theirs) breezed by me to a destination that it appeared the dog knew all too well.


we fly to keep up
she trots, her direction true
guiding our way home


Longwood Gardens lies just outside Philadelphia. My wife and I visited during their annual orchid show, quite a spectacular event. In the distance I saw a woman drawn to this spectacle in spite of being able to move only slowly.


such beauty abounds
so much to see before dark
first, time for a rest


Jim was my best friend over many decades. I took his picture of him in my backyard two weeks before he died, likely the last picture anyone ever took of him.

passing through

you’ll see me no more
passing through, just passing through
on the road of life


I offer this last photograph with no annotation.


dingy, quiet at dock
fading in faltering light
shadow of myself


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  • Michael Ulm says:

    Wow, that took me totally out of my head to a place far, far away…….just what a photograph, or series of them, should do. ‘shoes’ was especially meaningful. Thank you!

  • Michael Fleischer says:

    The very essence of living,
    human moments in passing,
    each life – its tales.

    A very fine collection of precious contented fragile life, accompanied by evocative words that really resonates. Very caught by the photos of your friend, child by the aquarium, and the last one – of course. 😉

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    I often wonder, as I move through an art gallery, whether the “titles” to the paintings were given to them by the artists – or added later, by subsequent generations. Perhaps a bit of each. But no doubt the curators of these places will claim it’s all one and none of the other.

    I do a lot of wondering – it’s part of “me”, part of how I’ve passed through life – as an introvert, entertaining myself, rather than being part of a mob that entertains its members – part of how I’ve been getting through the occasional “lock down” during this COVID pandemic.

    Words add meaning to images – just as images add meaning to words.

    Perhaps it would add even more, if we posted half a dozen images like these on DS, with the photographer’s haikus in a “sealed envelope” and invited members of DS to submit their own suggestions as to what the haikus appropriate to each image might be. And then compared them.

    But that won’t happen – maybe back a way, a century or so back, when all of us (not just introverts like me) entertained ourselves and each other, around the fireplace, in the living room, after the evening meal.

    Which – gasp – hurrah – at last he’s going to shut up! – brings me to one final comment. Or maybe it’s a haiku, too. Each of these images tells a story – together, they tell another – of family, and life.

  • Paul Lasky says:

    Marvelous marriage of words and pix producing something much larger than either of them. Thank you Bob Kruger.

  • Lad Sessions says:

    I think this is a marvelous device. Both photographs and poetry elicit and convey deep emotion as well as meaning and delight, and all this you have done superbly well. Kudos!

  • Claude Hurlbert says:

    Lovely, heartfelt, images and words. The picture of your grandson at the aquarium is touching. The children running with the dog–one can feel the life and love contained in the image. The photo of your friend, Jim, speaks of deep friendship. The boat is a fitting ending to this set. Nicely done, Bob.

  • Ian Varkevisser says:

    Haikus are the perfect accompaniment to breath life into photography. Brief and to the point. Fabulous series Bob. If only more photographers would use them instead of captions , especially the ever boring F / 2.8 ISO 500 1/150 sec variety which suggest the gear and settings are more important than the image. I have not been that active here on DS of late but extremely pleased to return to this.

    • Bob Kruger says:

      Glad you are back. I agree with your observation re: technical details of photos. Thanks for the feedback.

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