R O S E - L Y N N   F I S H E R    
  The Topography of Tears

The Topography of Tears is a visual investigation of tears photographed through a digital microscopy camera mounted on a vintage optical microscope. I started this project in 2008 during a pivotal period of my life, amid copious tears. There was a moment when I wondered if tears of joy would look any different than tears of grief. So I saved some tears on a glass slide and set out to explore them up close; I worked on this study for more than eight years.

The microscope gave me the means to examine my tears and beyond that, to visually evoke the unseen realm of my own and others’ emotions.

The resulting series of hundreds of photomicrographs comprises my own and others’ tears, from elation to onions, as well as sorrow, frustration, rejection, resolution, laughing, yawning, birth and rebirth, and more.

Many variables influence the diversity among these images: whether the tear was air-dried or compressed, the volume of tear fluid, chemical/biological variations, microscope and camera settings, and how I process and print the photograph. Other variables remain unknown; there is limited scientific data available on the visual and chemical differences within emotional tears.

The random compositions I find in magnified tears often evoke a sense of place, like aerial views of emotional terrain. Although the empirical nature of tears is a composition of water, proteins, minerals, hormones, antibodies and enzymes, the topography of tears is a momentary landscape, transient as the fingerprint of someone in a dream. This series is like an ephemeral atlas.

Tears are the medium of our most primal language in moments as unrelenting as death, as basic as hunger, and as complex as a rite of passage. They are the evidence of our inner life overflowing its boundaries, spilling over into consciousness. Wordless and spontaneous, they release us to the possibility of realignment, reunion, catharsis, intractable resistance short-circuited. Shedding tears, shedding old skin. It’s as though each one of our tears carries a microcosm of the collective human experience, like one drop of an ocean.

© Rose-Lynn Fisher
all rights reserved


Bellevue Literary Press

Craig Krull Gallery


Links to Selected Press
Online, Print & Blogs:


DARQUER Dentelle de Calais


Brain Pickings

The New Yorker

Smithsonian Magazine

Harper's Magazine

Boston Globe

Paris Match (France)

CBC Arts

B+W Photography (UK)


Feature Shoot



Amateur Photographer (UK)

Elizabeth Avedon Journal

GUP Magazine (NL)


PRI / Studio 360

TiP - Balmond Studio (UK)

New Histories (UK)

The Guardian (UK)

The Paris Review

Madame Le Figaro (France)

Polka Magazine (France)

Art Critique (France)

Observatoire de L'Art Contemporain (France)

Revue Feuilleton (France)

Zeit Wissen Magazine (Germany)

Die Welt (Germany)

Psychologie Heute (Germany)

Y-Mag (Germany)

De Gids (Netherlands)

Esquire Russia

Yorokobu (Spain) 2

Yorokobu (Spain) 1


British Cinematographer (UK)

In Vivo Magazine (Switzerland)

Galileo (Italy)

Design Observer

The Good Men Project


The Telegraph (UK)

Medical Daily

Happinez (NL)

Southwest the Magazine


Big Think

The Swaddle (India)

Delo (Slovenia)

El Mundo (Spain)

Balthazare Magazine (France)

De Redactie (Belgium)

YLE News (Finland)

Garbo (Romania)

O Globo (Brazil)

Lettera43 (Italy)

Caffeinamagazine (Italy)

Spaghetti Mag. (Italy)


Popular Science blog

The Daily Meal

Times of Malta

Lost at E Minor




PBS Nova Next Week

MSNBC Maddow blog/WeekGeek

BBC Taster (online)

Lifo (Greece)

Artinfinit (Moldova)

ABC (Spain)

La Nacion (Argentina)

Metro News Puerto Rico

Kindred Subjects

John Culbert - Geometry of tears

La/crime/ndays, a book of poetry by Giovanna Iorio




Bellevue Literary Press

What it meant long after a time forgotten © 2013 Rose-Lynn Fisher

The irrefutable © 2013 Rose-Lynn Fisher

Ending and beginning © 2013 Rose-Lynn Fisher

After the sun came the tears © 2016 Rose-Lynn Fisher

In commemoration: Charlotte Salomon © 2015 Rose-Lynn Fisher

Timeless reunion (in an expanding field) © 2013 Rose-Lynn Fisher

Overwhelm © 2015 Rose-Lynn Fisher

Tears for those who yearn for liberation © 2013 Rose-Lynn Fisher

Redemption © 2015 Rose-Lynn Fisher

Compassion © 2016 Rose-Lynn Fisher

Momentum redirected © 2013 Rose-Lynn Fisher

Tears of elation at a liminal moment © 2013 Rose-Lynn Fisher

If you're interested in receiving future notifications please email me at: topographyoftears@gmail.com

Many thanks and best wishes from Rose-Lynn!