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Our Photo Haiku Guidelines

1 three-line Haiku

Ideally, we would like you to maintain the original form or rhythm of Haiku, which is 17 morae divided into 3 phrases of five, seven and five. This traditional form creates a certain rhythm that has been a part of the Japanese culture for a very long time. For example, the rhythm you often hear at festivals in Japan, “ Do, Don Ga Don”, is a rhythm that you don’t hear in Latin America or Africa. It is a rhythm used in Bon Odori, or the Bon Festival dance, and much like the 5, 7, 5 rhythm and breath, it is a rhythm that the Japanese are very comfortable with. But when written in English, this same rhythm and logic may not apply and thus we think it might be better to just have a guideline which says the Haiku need only be written in three lines.

2 fusoku-furi / not too far, not too close

In order to achieve fusoku-furi where the Haiku is not too far and not too close to the photo, the Haiku cannot be just a description of the photo. The Haiku must add a different layer of emotion or viewpoint. Photos always have something that they lack. For example, sound, smell, touch or taste. By adding an element that you don’t see in the photo, you achieve a different dimension. So always make sure to write about the emotions that surround the photo.

3 seasonality

Ideally, you want to express the seasonality in either your photo or Haiku. However, you do not have to be so literal with your expression such as by taking a photo of something that literally resembles spring nor do you have to use a Kigo such as spring or Ume in your three line Haiku. There are many ways to express the seasonality. Just pay attention to your surroundings and express what you see or feel right in front of you.

4 How to Take a Photo

  1. Decide the lighting.
    Decide if you will shoot with the sun behind you or in front of you.
  2. Create space.
    Once you’ve decided on your object, try and remember to create some space on either side of the subject. This will give your audience more room to use their imagination.
  3. Take a photo of something from unique angles.
    Changing perspective can lead to a completely different outcome.