Daido Moriyama has long been an iconic figure in the realm of street photography. He was noted for his depiction of the breakdown of traditional values during post-war Japan. Today, he’s revered for his gritty black and white photographs that present a distinct perspective about Tokyo. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut and in need of something to bring back your street photography mojo, watch this classic documentary that follows one of Japan’s most prolific and esteemed street photographers.
At at time when everyone is capable of taking countless photos everyday, how do you make yours tell an interesting story? We often get the suggestion to closely study (and not be content with shallow awareness) the life and work of outstanding photographers before us. Moriyama, who has long been influencing photographers to seek stories out in the streets and people they encounter, is definitely one of them.
The 2001 documentary, titled Near Equal, has been a source of inspiration, ideas, and creative fodder since it was first released. Moriyama’s works have been captivating audiences since the late 1960s. However, his true persona reportedly wasn’t unveiled until this documentary. Today, photographers in and out of Japan frequently cite it as a must-watch, especially for those who are just getting into street photography.
Near Equal is filled with anecdotes and interviews — with Moriyama, as well as writers, editors, and curators who have encountered his work — that paint a picture of the style and sensibilities that have made him a celebrated street photographer. Even one of his well-known colleagues, Nobuyoshi Araki, held Moriyama and his works in high regard in the film, saying that he’s “a man who created a new generation of photography… Not only in Japan, but globally.”
If you’re new to Moriyama and his work, you’ll definitely find this documentary fascinating. It will surely satisfy your curiosity with details like the first camera he shot with, his shooting style, and his famed preference for shooting with compact film cameras.
Screenshot taken from the video