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Daido Moriyama – book review

[Recreated from pdf following blog crash]



I recently read the small format book on Daido Moriyama, that includes examples of his work with accompanying narrative and a short biography of Moriyama written by Nishii.

The biography gives some fascinating insight into the life of the artist and his aims. His dislike of urbanisation, participation in an international youth movement, and the PROVOKE photography movement in Japan.

In the context of my other recent research, I was interested to read that the PROVOKE group proposed a ‘distance’ between the photographer and the viewer, implying psychological as well as special distance. Nishii states that Moriyama and his associates were the first photographers to be aware of the dual distance.

Moriyama is a street photographer and enjoys the life and crowds of busy cities. His photographs are all in black and white and processed as high contrast images, with shadow details often lost in blackness and highlights bleached out. This is not the documentary-style of Walker Evans, but something that feels dark and dramatic. In the Tate Modern video, Moriyama tells us how monochrome feels better to him, more abstract and focused on forms. He also explains (and we see him use) a compact camera with a zoom lens for his photography.

Moriyama see photography as a way of allowing people to connect with their memories. The lack of detail and texture in the images seems to reflect this – they are like hazy memories, dreamlike. Perhaps I am also drawn to them as an antidote to the extreme sharp and detailed images that are currently common place.

Despite Moriyama’s work being exhibited in art galleries around the work, he explains that he does not really see his work as art and is more interested in the book format for showing his photos.

A great photographer with a clear and distinctive vision for his photos.


Nishii K. Daido Moriyama. London, Phaidon Press Ltd, 2012 edition.

Tate Modern, Video. Daido Moriyama: In Pictures. Available from: http://bcove.me/uodutw8o [accessed 23.8.15]

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