The Photos of Moriyama

Photographer Daido Moriyama is quoted as saying “The city has everything: comedy, tragedy, eulogy, eroticism. It is the ideal setting, the place where people’s desires are interwoven. It has remained, and will always remain, my natural element.” He was talking about Tokyo, the city where he still lives.

Moryima said that he considers all photographs “copies.” Some of this philosophy was the influence of Andy Warhol, who he admired. But it was also a fundamental question he wrestled with on the nature of his craft. He started to push his images to the very boundaries of what was, or was not, considered a photograph. This question led him to a series of extremely high-contrast, grainy, black and and white pictures that were cropped and distorted into things that were no longer objective representations of the original subjects. They were something far more ethereal and abstract.

Many of these works were published in a book aptly titled, FAREWELL PHOTOGRAPHY, in 1972. During that very same year, Moriyama also published “A HUNTER.” This was the book that featured his most famous photograph, “Stray Dog.” An image not photographed in Tokyo, btw, but in the city of Misawa.

Not one to get complacent, Moriyama refused to lock himself into a single, rigid look for his entire career. Although the bulk of his work remained high-contrast black and white, he also shot some fascinating color photographs.

Now in his eighties, Moriyama is still going strong. In classic street photographer fashion, he claims to carry a camera with him whenever he goes out. Even to the local convenience store. In his interviews, Moriyama still looks like a rebellious punk. He comes across as a man still very much determined to use his camera to capture the world around him and to question everything. Even if you hate his photographs, you have to admire the attitude.