“Haiku” : A book by Dan Baumbach & Paul Rowland
“With the profound inspiration of brilliant haiku written by Paul Jonathan Rowland, and unearthly nature photos of Dan Baumbach revealing unnoticed and hidden beauty in nature, Haiku leads you into silence, mindfulness of the present moment and realization of the fragile transitoriness of life: a frozen leaf in a winter river, the blazing sun softened by colorful plumes, a seed pod caught for a moment in a blade of grass awaiting the next wind.”
Over a year and a half after their appearance on Hintology, Dan Baumbach, a nature photographer known for his minimalist flora depictions, and Paul Rowland, a poet, texture photographer and collaborator on Hintology, have come together to produce and release a book of photo-poetry they’ve straightfowardly titled “Haiku”.
As we encourage all members of our community to share their latest achievements, today we are having a short interview with the duo to shed more light on this book of delicate thoughts and imagery:
Q／It is of interest that you were both early interviewees on Hintology, which is a commonality that begs the question: what prompted the two of you to start working on this project?
PAUL／I was introduced to Dan’s work through Hintology and admired the delicacy and stillness of nature he captures in his photos. I find it calming to spend time with his photos, which, although clearly different to my own, share some abstract qualities of colour and texture.
Dan kindly bought the two books of my writing that I collaborated on with @jldmplnktt — “Los” and “The Music” — and asked me if I would like to collaborate with him at some point. I was delighted by the suggestion, but I didn’t know how we might work together. However, when Dan came up with the idea of me writing haikus to accompany his images, I jumped at the chance. It made a lot of sense and it was something I hadn’t tried before, so it was an interesting challenge.
DAN／I became acquainted with Paul’s wonderful photography probably through Hintology. When he mentioned a book he had written, I naturally wanted to support him and purchased a copy. I was very impressed with his writing and point of view. As I did more research, I saw he was a poet too and his poetry was very accessible.
A follower of mine on Facebook compared my photographs to haikus and that really turned me on. Haikus are very pithy and I would like to think my photographs are pithy too. That gave me the idea for a book and Paul was the first person whom I thought of to write the haikus.
I was thrilled that he wanted to do it too so I started to send him photos. I just planned to have a simple book of photos and accompanying haikus, but then my wife Chaya took what we did and designed a beautiful book around it.
Q／You are inadvertently answering several of the questions I had! But let’s dive a bit into the idea of haikus. This is perhaps an especially fit style given that Paul has built his life in Japan. Paul, how acquainted were you with haikus? Were there poets that inspired you to produce your own?
PAUL／I had written haikus before, but not for a long time, and because I live in Japan it is a form that I have avoided because it is somewhat too obvious. Unfortunately, the form has become something of a cliche because of its apparent simplicity. However, I am very interested in Zen Buddhism, and I have recently finished writing a book of poems inspired by and based on the Tao Te Ching, so it is a space I’ve been happy to revisit. Dan’s photos require no description or explanation, so I wanted to find words that would complement his images without being superfluous. Too many words would overburden his delicate and quiet pictures, but the subtlety and minimalism of haikus provide just the right balance. They are hints of ideas, whispers, passing thoughts.
DAN／I couldn’t agree with Paul more. Rather than describing my photographs, they complement them. I love the layout of the book with a haiku on the left and a photograph on the right. So much so, that I’ve made prints of the pages and framed them. I’ll have my first exhibit of the prints this weekend. We’ll see what people think.
Q／In the spirit of haikus, I think this is as much as we can say about the work — we’ll have to let readers figure how your words and pictures can inspire them. As a closing question and in service of all of those who are excited about this work, can anything be said as to whether we should expect more collaborations between the two of you?
DAN／I would love to do another book or an expanded version of this one. It all depends on how well this one does. It’s one thing to show JPEGs of the book, but having it in your hand is a much greater experience. We’ll see.
PAUL／I don’t see why not! I’ve greatly enjoyed writing poems inspired by Dan’s images, because I’ve never worked like this before and I have ideas that wouldn’t occur to me otherwise. Things arise from collaboration that are wholly unexpected. I could easily write more haikus, or perhaps another form as well. After we’ve absorbed this experience and got some feedback, we can think about what might be next.
Q／Thank you both for offering the world an opportunity to discover the poetry of abstract photography and for your longstanding involvement within the Hintology community. Where can everyone find the book as well as your other works?
PAUL／Thank you so much for doing this! We really appreciate it.
Interview by M. Solav.
Hintology is an abstract photography magazine project created in August 2020 which strives to create a community where every artists are given a chance to broadcast their voice, the aspiring just as much as the established. We are a small team of volunteers who rely on the passion and contributions of their community to help spread the beauty and diversity of abstract photography. If you share our vision of inclusiveness and inquisitiveness, you can make a difference by tagging your work with #Hintology on Instagram, or by following our page and joining our group on Facebook. If you appreciate our curation work and interviews, please consider donating via this link; all funds will go towards printing the first physical edition of the magazine.
Visit Hintology.org for all the links.