How do you decide what is worth photographing? What makes for photos that stand the test of time? How do you improve and challenge yourself when you’re already good? This workshop has answers, and new challenges.
About a decade ago photographer and collector M.H. Rubin found that his favorite photographs in history, and in his own picture taking, inexplicably aligned with the principles of haiku poetry. It provided him a new vocabulary, and the combination made for something both inspiring and teachable. Welcome to “photographic haiku,” a practice that is part street photography and part personal photojournalism, and something totally new.
In this in-person workshop in Rubin’s new hometown of Santa Fe, he uses examples from his own work in combination with numerous historic prints from Adams, Tice, Callahan, Kertesz, Erwitt, Weston, and dozens of others drawn from his rare private collection, to further insights in the creative image-making process. Workshop participants have the unique opportunity to be up-close and in-person with many of the finest works in photographic history.
The Workshop draws on the creative and aesthetic principles inherent in haiku along with the Zen arts to provide a powerful foundation to support photographic growth. This approach reframes “the decisive moment,” as Cartier-Bresson described, and describes more formal photographic compositions in the real world.
Daily photo walks and image reviews are used alongside short lectures on these historic prints to build a new foundation. From this point of departure, participants craft beautiful, creative, and delightful images during their time in Santa Fe, and return home with insights into photographic history and process.
“Haiku photography” is not placid nor pictorial. It moves us beyond still-life photography and into a new way to think about structure and content that is dynamic, challenging, and appropriate for anyone at any skill level. For beginners it’s a better way to learn composition than the rule of thirds. For experienced photographers it’s a way to play and evolve. It’s a new (and old!) poetic form.
COVID-19 Update: For all in-person workshops and trips in 2023, Santa Fe Workshops highly recommends that all participants, staff, and instructors attending be up to date with Covid vaccinations (per definition of the CDC).
Working knowledge of digital workflow on your laptop computer and manual mode on your digital SLR or mirrorless camera. Participants must be able to download, select, and transfer images to their own jump drive for class each day.
This workshop is not about writing haiku, nor pursuing a meditative state; and we are not using photography to explore Zen. We do just the opposite—discovering how the ideas from the Zen arts can help us make better images, measure our successes, and enjoy and appreciate photography more.
Participants are responsible for making their own housing arrangements in Santa Fe. On-campus accommodations are not currently available.
M. H. Rubin has been a photographer and collector for more than 40 years, newly relocated to Santa Fe after decades in the Bay Area. As a young protégé of Jerry Uelsmann, he began by creating images that were both composed and surreal. Today Rubin embraces the passion of the amateur and evangelizes photographic exploration for consumers. He manages a large photo collection of classical 20th-century works, always incorporated into his workshops, and has spent the past years developing this new curriculum in photographic education. His book The Photograph as Haiku was released in 2023.
Concurrent with photography, he has had an entrepreneurial career that has spanned industries such as publishing, consumer retail, entertainment media, and technology. Career highlights include Lucasfilm, Netflix, and Adobe. He has had editing and post-production roles on numerous television and movie projects, including the miniseries “Lonesome Dove,” and the Bertolucci feature “The Sheltering Sky.”
Rubin has a degree in neuroscience from Brown University. He is a colorful storyteller and entertaining educator, the author of hundreds of essays, and a dozen books primarily on filmmaking—including a history of Lucasfilm and Pixar, Droidmaker: George Lucas and the Digital Revolution.