Daido Moriyama Is a Wealth of Gritty Street Photography Inspiration

The work of famed Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama is a potent source of inspiration for those in the mood for street photography in monochrome.

When it comes to street photography, we cannot talk about the gritty and punchy black and white aesthetic without mentioning Daido Moriyama. Hailed as the Godfather of Japanese Street Photography, he remains one of Japan’s most celebrated photographers, best known for his radical approach to the genre. Whether you’re new to his work or could use some street photography inspiration, this slideshow is certainly worth checking out.

The slideshow video showcases some great examples of the photography style that has become strongly attached to Moriyama and Japanese street photography itself. Gritty, high-contrast, and radical, these images consistently evoke mystery, eroticism, and darkness — elements that have inspired photographers who are looking for a more unconventional approach to street photography.

Moriyama began pursuing a career as a freelance photographer when he moved to Tokyo in 1961, emerging as the most prominent artist from the Provoke movement and the experimental magazine of the same name that was born out of it. The movement heavily influenced his work, leading him to create bold, uncompromising images that separated photography from tradition and questioned the very nature of the craft. Japan: A Photo Theatre, his first major series published as a photo book in 1968, documented the urbanization that swept Tokyo and Japan in general following the Second World War. The series became a gripping record of the dark and chaotic underbelly of city life set alongside the breaking down of traditional values in the country.

If the slideshow got you wanting to know more about Daido Moriyama and his persona, we highly suggest checking out Near Equal, a documentary filled with anecdotes and interviews that provide a window into the style and sensibilities that have made him a celebrated street photographer. As for more insights into his creative thinking and workflow, you may also want to check out his latest book, How I Take Photographs.

As always, don’t forget to check out Daido Moriyama’s official website to dive deep into his photography.

Screenshot image from the video