Interpreting Moriyama

Close-up of a metal door with a sticker saying SULJE PORTTI HILJAA

Daido Moriyama is one of the best-known Japanese photographers. So I read in his and Takeshi Nakamoto’s book How I Take Photographs.

His name did not ring any bells but I’ve seen his photos before. I doubt the photos in the book are his best work but at least the interviews are interesting. He talks about how he only takes snapshots.

Based on the book I couldn’t understand why he would be the most important Japanese photographer. Where’s the appeal? This inspired me to try to imitate his style. Here’s how I interpreted it:

  • If you see something interesting, snap a photo.
  • If in doubt, snap a photo.
  • Go closer.
  • Impressions are more important than technical perfection.
  • Movement is okay; sharpness is not important.
  • All photography is copying, anyway. Photos of posters are fine.
  • It’s okay for the photographer to be visible.

Click here to view the resulting series.

The hardest commandment to follow for me was to go closer - especially since I shoot with such a wide lens. I’m going to keep practicing.


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