Process of Iceland “Haiku” Photos

A Photo Travelogue, of Sorts

M. H. Rubin
10 min readOct 13, 2022


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 my stories and photos.