Photo Haiga and How to Make Them: Part 2

Now we will discuss adding text. Some of the core issues have already been covered in Where on Earth do I Put the Text? This should deal with some of the rest.

Here is the completed first stage of our image:


Choosing the font is one of the key decisions in making a haiga, right up there with selecting the image itself. The wrong font will stick out and draw undue attention to itself.  To help  decide which is the right one, carefully examine the image. What is the quality of line like? Is it heavy and rough or soft and delicate? What is the image itself like? Robust? Light? Busy? Minimalist? Try to find something that mimics or harmonises with some quality within the image.


Notice how the delicate line in the font mirrors the line in the drawing? Now look at this one:


See how the text overtakes the image and draws focus throwing the haiga out of balance? Opposites seldom attract in this situation.  Judgments like these are hardest to make about photographs, so I suggest trying on a number of different fonts before settling on one.

For this reason I recommend collecting up as many fonts as you can. I have at least a couple of hundred on my computer. There are a lot of great font sites but I really recommend this one:

It has lots of options and I have never had a problem with lurking internet nasties.

Making your text stand out is also a significant issue with photo haiga. Photos tend to be filled with imagery that will obscure the words of your haiku and make it difficult to pick out visually. You also don’t want the haiku to overwhelm the image either. As a general rule you want light on dark images, dark on light. We are dealing with black and white plus colour here, so we want the text to be colour. The best rule to follow in this kind of situation is to pick up colour from the image for text. This helps integrate the text. In this case I am picking up yellow from the bloom:


Position of text can make or break the composition. See how the yellow makes the text stand out here but this position is visually irritating? Your eye bounces back and forward between the text and the yellow bloom:


This position is not right either. It creates a downward movement that drags to the left, resisting your eye’s natural urge to focus on the yellow bloom.


This position is worse and crowds everything to the right side of the photo but at least it does not fight the bloom as much for attention.


This is the optimum text position for this haiga. You eye settles on the flower first, then the text and then back to the flower and down toward the left creating a roughly triangular movement; triangles are strong compositionally. Here is the finished haiga:


This is a far cry from what we started with:


You could do all this or you could simply start with a better photograph, like this alternate image:


In the next post, I will show you how to make a good photo into a better haiga.


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