How Daido Moriyama Became the Godfather of Japanese Street Photography

 

untitled by daido moriyama
“Untitled” (1969) by Daido Moriyama. Image courtesy of artsy.net

 

With revolts against the British in Northern Ireland, student marches in Germany, Black Power movements at the Summer Olympics and anti-Vietnam war protests around the globe, everyone had something to fight for in 1968. Japan was no exception, and its citizens were vocal in demonstrating their outrage over the nation’s political and social restrictions, with the anarcho-communist Zenkyoto Movement taking shape during this time. In the wake of such uprising came Tokyo’s “Provoke Magazine”, an experimental, small-press magazine that focused on anti-establishment photography as a platform for “new photographic expression”. Featured in the second issue was Daido Moriyama, a creative whose gritty, out-of-focus black and white imagery starkly contrasted the well-composed photographs produced in the U.S as well as Europe.

Since then, Moriyama has spent his entire career pioneering his signature aesthetic – a style that provides a stark contrast against traditional methods of photography. Citing influence from the esteemed American photographer William Klein, the Japanese artist explores the darker side of urban life in his imagery. Rather than focusing on the hustle and bustle of Paris or New York, as Klein tended towards, Moriyama has always preferred to concentrate on the banality of Tokyo’s lesser known streets.

 

Irritated by the way photography was used as a tautology, Moriyama aimed for this book to bid farewell to the formal constraints of image-capturing

 

Memory of a Dog 2, 1982-2003. Image from loeildelaphotographie.com1
Memory of a Dog 2, 1982-2003. Image from loeildelaphotographie.com1

 

Eros, 1969. Image from pinterest.com
Eros, 1969. Image from pinterest.com

 

Moriyama’s innovative way of constructing the mundane makes Japan look like the most appealing place in the world.

 

The aptly titled photobook, “Bye Bye Photography, Dear”, is considered the perfect example of Moriyama’s ability to blend his nonconformist technique with a raw approach towards the day-to-day. Irritated by the way photography was used as a tautology, Moriyama aimed for this book to bid farewell to the formal constraints of image-capturing. Destroyed negatives were printed full-bleed, accompanied by scratches. The lack of composition and odd cropping complimented grain and over-saturation, constructing a perfect mess of organised chaos.

Although once making the claim, “There is nothing particularly fascinating about this place”, Moriyama’s depiction of his homeland begs to differ. Whether the focus of his lens is on Tokyo’s prostitutes or gangsters, passengers on the subway, the back of someone’s head or a stray dog, his innovative way of constructing the mundane into an exciting story from a mismatched collection of non-narrative imagery makes Japan look like the most appealing place in the world.

 

Tokyo 2005 by daido moriyama
“Tokyo” (2005) by Daido Moriyama. Image courtesy of artsy.net

 

 

Kyoku/Erotica, 2007. Image from pinterest.com
Kyoku/Erotica, 2007. Image from pinterest.com

 

Boy, Miyagi,1973. Image from loeildelaphotographie.com
Boy, Miyagi,1973. Image from loeildelaphotographie.com

 

Tights, 1987-2011. Image from photographynow.com
Tights, 1987-2011. Image from photographynow.com

 

Entertainer on Stage, 1967. Image from pinterest.com
Entertainer on Stage, 1967. Image from pinterest.com

 

Tokyo, 1978. Image from loeildelaphotographie.com
Tokyo, 1978. Image from loeildelaphotographie.com

 

Misawa (Stray Dog). Image from alexcoghe.com
Misawa (Stray Dog). Image from alexcoghe.com

 

Eros Or Something Other Than Eros 1969 daido moriyama
“Eros Or Something Other Than Eros” (1969). Image courtesy of artsy.net

 

More information on Daido Moriyama artist is available at moriyamadaido.com

 

 

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