Claire Yaffa took her first photograph 45 years ago when her son was 18 months old and it was the beginning of her journey, first as a mother, then as a photographer. She has worked extensively for The New York Times and Associated Press. Her photographs have appeared in countless influential publications and have been exhibited at major venues in the US and around the world.

Leica Notebook, Chapter 10

Photography and Poetry: How each inspires the other.

A photograph may inspire a poem and often a poem stimulates a feeling or thought which visually is like a photograph.  Sometimes we react to both mediums with emotions of happiness, sadness, wonder and pity…the photographer with his camera, the poet with his words.

Perhaps a photograph does not need words and a poem does not need a photograph, but they may inspire each other in adding to the emotions evoked by both.

In “Letters to A Young Poet”, Rainer Maria Rilke (1899-1926), a writer and poet, was asked to respond to the request of a  poet  who wanted to know whether his verses were good enough.  In the letters Rilke wrote to the young poet, Rilke expressed his thoughts about writing, which applies to the art of photography and other art forms.  He says, “nobody can advise and help you, nobody.”

There is only one single means.  Go inside yourself.  Discover the motive that bids you write; examine whether it sends its roots down to the deepest places of your heart. Must I write? Then build your life according to this necessity, draw near to nature, try to say what you see, experience and love and loss, avoid  forms which are too familiar and usual.   Turn from common themes to those which your own everyday life affords; depict your sorrows and desires, your passing thoughts and belief in some kind of beauty used to express yourself the things that surround you, the images of your dreams and the objects of your memory. I could give you no advice but this: to go into yourself and to explore the depths whence your life wells forth; at it source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create, descending into yourself and into your aloneness, finally advising, “to grow through your development quietly and seriously.”


I pick flowers
to keep you close to me
until now
memories appear
past becomes present
was the reality
what I hoped
forever lost
until today
when a flower
helped to remember you

an end
for me

I feel
as darkness
at summer’s end
as day is not over
yet coming quietly
to distant
the light of the sun

not always
may not be
the reality
the reality
may be
a reflection
seeing myself in you
your seeing yourself
in me…separate
discovering each other
alone…in our thoughts

looking for it?
feeling the need to express whatever is
where does one look
outside or within
 went looking for a photograph
a need growing stronger
where to look
what to see
I went looking for a photograph
there it was
a part of me.

-Claire Yaffa

You can also see more of Claire’s work on her website,