Photography is Like Making Love
"Good photography is like making love, it's best not to go too fast. Years of photographing have convinced me that deliberate attention to the subject itself is the force behind compelling photography. As lovers, when we make love, we pay attention to the object of our passion." ~ Jim Austin Jimages
"No matter how slow the film, Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer It has chosen."
So said American photographer and educator Minor White (1908-1976). He also wrote " Set aside some time to let the garbage go by so as to pay full attention to the photographing."
As our photography culture expands, conversations about speed take place more often. Speed itself gets confused with quality and meaning. A mythical mantra of today's commercial photography is that faster gear means better images. It's a myth. Speed is garbage going by. I believe we should set aside time for slow photography because it lets our heart beat come into harmony with our minds vision. I believe slow photography means taking time to learn what you can do with a photograph and how you feel as you make one.
Intention, not speed, defines interesting photography. While it is tempting to rush when photographing a scene, this is as mistaken as thinking a scene is a narrative. We do not know what happened by looking at a photograph, nor do we know that working quickly makes the image better. If I am judgemental, and think “that was a good frame,” given more thought in editing I might realize later that a slightly different camera position would have made a more interesting composition: "If I'd moved to the right two inches" and "Why didn't I slow down and take more time to explore the scene.”
TIME FOR EXPERIENCING
To make beautiful pictures, we have to take time to experience, then prepare, get our mental attitude ready, and then let our mind and soul embrace the spirit of a place as we enter its flow. This may not happen on the first round, or second, or fifteenth. Our attention to the idea has to be continual, sometimes for years.
"A photograph takes a 60th of a second to capture, but 60 years to release." Jimages
But what kind of attention? Years of photographing have convinced me that deliberate attention to the subject itself is the force behind compelling photography. As lovers, when we make love, we pay attention to the object of our passion. Why not the same as photographers? This does not imply that the subject is external. Subject matter can be a feeling, mood and quite abstract. At times, compelling images reflect less concrete, ideational themes. There is a balance between feeling emotion and thinking with each frame. Good photography doesn't happen just because we felt strong emotions when we clicked. Like bottling a gallon of maple syrup from 40 gallons of tree sap, a tasty photograph combines experience, patience and a lot of practice to make mistakes along the way.
To acquire and maintain a skill takes practice, so the basics are automatic. Then, our visual imagination is free to improvise, as musicians do, to fine tune unique details that make a frame singular and fresh. For practice, each morning I take a camera outdoors. I take a few boring compositions. and framing. It does not matter if most of the images are deleted. What counts is the practice, slowing down the process of seeing, without time pressure. Then, every so often, rarely, the stones within the frame may turn into a diamond. It often helps me to keep photographing and experimenting even when I feel I have the best image. I believe that frame of mind is the most valuable tool in the gear bag. Our attitudes become patterns. These patterns become actions. Our actions, with repetition, shift into habits. Positive mental habits are our most effective gear. One attitude that works for me is telling myself: "this composition seems good, but I wonder if I slow down and take different views, it will be even better?" These positive mental habits evolve slowly over time. It helps to surround ourselves with the culture of a variety of good art, literature and photography.
INTENTION and ATTENTION
A photographer needs intention. I try to fill my practice with an intentional purpose. This takes time. If the idea of slow photography is to endure, I believe it will not be about time exposures, gear choices, or neutral density filters. Instead, slow photography evokes the meaning of our experiences with the picture world as we train our feet and brain to pay attention.
A Few Photo Haiku
My photo haiku don't always follow the haiku rules...
I do not believe
my haiku are well framed ̶ they
go from bad to verse
I can't give up making pictures, writing short poems or drinking coffee. After a while, these habits join each other like three lines in a haiku. I don't know when this happened.
Q: What is Photo Haiku?
Photo haiku combines an image and a brief poem to open the minds to a fresh perception. The combination evokes thoughts, and at best a state of consciousness in a viewer. Photo haiku tries to show the essence of human experience or nature. Well-written photo haiku can grabs the mind with an Aha! immediacy.
Q: Why do Photo Haiku ?
Making photo haiku expands our awareness of small delights, pleasures and odd moments. Writing haiku reframes our associations to our pictures. Photo haiku also boosts the impact of our photographs: words and pictures together have more power than either alone. We remember events more vividly when we write a poem about them.
This is not your grandfather's poetry. Modern haiku is playful, social, and even witty. The structure of haiku is no longer bound to 17 syllables anymore. Nope, no more the old 5-7-5 rule that we were taught in elementary school. Photo haiku today is more spontaneous. It has an 'on the spot' lightness.
The haiku form also lends itself to travels with a camera. It's a challenge to pay attention deeply so that I write poems that harmonizes with the pictures I take on the road. Even years later, looking back on where I travelled, my hoto haiku helps me recall small events. Part of the reason is that like haiku, our photo haiku can include a seasonal word that anchors the time of year of the event or perception.
Haiku: The Wordless Poem
Long called the “wordless poem,” hokku was linked to spiritual practice. The non-rhyming short poetry form began with scholars in China as hokku, then spread throughout Japan and came to be called haiku in the 19th century.Traditionally, poets in China wrote to praise nature. Writing poetry was a social occasion. Later, Matsuo Basho, the most renowned Japanese haiku poet, devoted his spiritual life to writing poetry and prose. With his travels throughout Japan and his haiku wiring, Basho remindfully brings the distant past into the present. He explored northern Japan as a traveling priest and his poems from his journeys bring us a feeling of “lightness,” as his haiku summoned ideas from Zen practice such as wabi, sabi and solitariness. Basho's prose and poetry reflects experiences anyone can have everyday. Today, haiku is popular worldwide.
Now, let's see how to make photo haiku - the How To of haiku.
How To Make Photo Haiku
Begin by observing a moment in time. Imagine the essence of what you feel and perceive.
Use familiar, simple photo gear like your cell phone or point and shoot camera. Any subject or human relationship can become a haiku photograph.
Think about the picture, and what you perceived, heard, or sensed. Write a short poem about the feeling you had. Your three line poem can be about what happened or what you imagined could have happened. Use direct, simple words. Think of a group of words that present what you observed in a way that appeals to the senses of touch, hearing and taste. Edit the poem so you "cut out the fat." Use present tense, not past tense.
Apps and Photoshop for Photo Haiku
There are many apps to apply effects to pictures. I've tried Photo Artista Haiku effect. Downloaded, the app lets you easily change the appearance of a photo. If will not make you a haiku poet, but the effects are fun.
PHOTOSHOP: Making Your Photo Haiku with 7 Steps in Adobe Photoshop
STEP 1: START. Open your photograph using File > Open.
STEP 2: Add your text. Click IMAGE > Canvas Size. Change width to 300 pixels wide. If your picture was 800 pixels, make the width 1200 pixels.
STEP 3 : Likewise, add 400 pixels to the height. Note that you can customize the canvas color by clicking Canvas extension color: drop-down menu at the bottom of the Canvas Size dialog box.
STEP 4: Click the Text Tool in the toolbox.
Select your font style from the upper toolbar.
Type in the text of your poem. If you want to move down a line, type 'enter" key on your keyboard.
STEP 5: Click Photoshop's check mark to commit your edits (the check mark is at the top of Photoshop's display, in the middle of the Options bar that runs horizontally across the top of the screen). To view your text layer, open the Layers palette by clicking WINDOW > Layers
( or type the fn key plus the f7 key).
STEP 6: Position your poem by using the move tool in the toolbox.
STEP 7: FINISH. With the text and a picture on two layers, save the file as a .psd file type so you can edit it later (File > Save As). For instance, you may wish to change the color scheme, and this is easier with a Photoshop's .PSD file.
Haiku photography is thriving in the information age as people write haiku in 30 different languages. The rapid growth of digital photography inspires new forms of photo haiku. As a wave of younger artists publish diverse haiku photo work online, haiku photo will reach a global audience with fresh energy, centuries after it first emerged.
HAIKU POETS HUT. For an index of haiku subjects from “inner glow” to “dragons” and a million other haiku, explore Shoji and other poets at Haiku Poets Hut.
FACEBOOK. Join the haiku hut on Facebook .
WORLD HAIKU REVIEW. Find the official magazine of the World Haiku Club.
HAIKU BOOK. The Haiku Anthology , Third edition. Core van den Hoevel.
HAIKU: THE WORLD'S SHORTEST POEM. Youtube video that shows Japanese people in Tokyo spontaneously composing haiku on the street and references Basho and Shiki, two haiku poets.