Process of Iceland “Haiku” Photos

A Photo Travelogue, of Sorts

M. H. Rubin


I’m just back from 10 days in Iceland. After years of critiquing students’ photos with respect to “haiku photography” I thought it would be useful to point that laser at my recent shooting.

Before I left I had been looking at Chris Burkard’s Summer photos from his off-grid adventure in Iceland. I was both jealous of what he’d been able to see and shoot, and accepting that my trip would be my trip, and wouldn’t look like his at all. I obviously wanted to document my unique experience in a highly photographed place, and if possible, create photographs guided by the haiku principles.

Traveling Light: Tech and Gear

While in Iceland, I toured around in a rental car and saw what was on the route. I carried no bag, just three batteries, and the camera (a Fuji X-T2, with an 18–135mm zoom) ever-slung over my shoulder. The first part of my practice is to be light and inconspicuous.

I shot 1500 images in 10 days; I’d say that was a pretty light touch. Iceland is continuously scenic and demands much attention. I wanted to be measured in my shooting. That was the second part of the practice.

After the trip ended I made a photo-essay travelogue (on blurb), consisting of 140 photos. 40 of these are my favorite stand-alone shots, which I posted here. Next I refocused more critically on the few images that “deserved” to be printed, a couple of which are also haiku. Today I made nine larger format prints (13x19). I was interested to notice this aligned with the ratios I typically see in my work: regardless of how much I shoot, I end up with ~10% as “selects” and ~1% as “keepers.”

Printing is not the final stage, but it’s close. Once printed you have to live with a photo and decide if it stands the test of time. It is still enjoyable a month later? A year later? Does it elicit the same enthusiasm in you?

Identifying Haiku Principles in Photographs

My select set are here:

First let me remind you of what to look for in photographic haiku:

They will have a quiet beauty, but not be over-the-top. They’ll not (just) be cool looking, but of something going on — an inexplicable…



M. H. Rubin

Living a creative life, a student of high magic, and hopefully growing wiser as I age. • Ex-Lucasfilm, Netflix, Adobe. • Here are some stories and photos.