Daidō Moriyama’s photographs have been at the forefront of the street photography form for decades, his work highlighting the darker side of city life, in particular, Tokyo. His pictures have influenced a whole generation of artists, his high contrast, grainy, blurry, black and white photographs the starting point of a movement that has changed the course of contemporary photography.
Moriyama is famous for his dictum ‘Make the camera your slave’. In Moriyama’s world it is all about the image, about capturing the moment, not about the equipment; the fancy camera, the expensive lens. Rather photography is, in essence, an expression of yourself:
Photography is the capture of the very present moment. It is meaningless to regret in the future what you’ve missed. Therefore taking a photo of the present is to preserve it. That is the essence of photography. Your feeling is always a reflection of the photo you produce.
Moriyama is now 74 years old and he’s been taking us on journeys through the streets of Tokyo for over 40 years, his subjects often faceless, in shadow, off frame, moving away, shifting quickly through the dark streets and alleys of the Shinjuku district which he has been walking around all his life. There is a strong narrative in his work, his pictures always seem to imply action, that something has happened, is about to happen, he sets us up as voyeurs, gives us a unique look into a strange dark world all of his own making. This is the world seen through his eyes, it is his artistic vision we see stamped on every photograph. And it is this vision that has created a new aesthetic in street photography. Here’s what he has to say about his work:
For me, cities are enormous bodies of people’s desires, and as I search for my own desires within them, I slice into time, seeing the moment. That’s the kind of camera work I like
Moriyama has produced a huge body of work over the past 50 years; he’s produced 150 books – that combine photographs, theoretical texts and diverse printing techniques – created art installations, performance pieces and continues to exhibit around the World. You can currently see his work at the Rencontres d’Arles Photographie, 2013 until 22nd September or at The Polka Galerie, 12 rue Saint Gilles, Paris until 7th September.