"I have always felt that the world is an erotic place... 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." Daido Moriyama
I love Hungarian, French and German photographers. I do. But I’m also fascinated by underground Asian street photography. With that said, I have to write about this one that I truly admire: Daido Moriyama. If you are familiar with Asian street photographers, you know him. If you are not, dive with me into his unique world.
© Daido Moriyama
When I think of Tokyo, one of the first things that comes to my mind is Daido’s work (and also the unforgettable Lost in Translation movie by Sofia Coppola). Back to Daido. When I see his work, I clearly see the everyday life of Japanese people. The common suddenly through his lens become extraordinary. And I love it. You can eve smell his pictures so raw his images are! The streets, the lights, the vibrant black and white, people’s face, dog’s faces, the food, the pleasure, the business men, the coffee shops, the underground world. What this has to do with my work? Well, cities are the main theme in my photography. Add to all that I said about Daido’s work, also, the will to travel to unknown cities, not only a specific one. But the most populated ones. Even though I love to have silhouettes people on my photos, I also love the absence of loudness. There is so much of Daido in my work, perhaps more than I realize. I see much of it in some cities even more than others, like Berlin, NYC and São Paulo. Of course, these are non stop cities.
Berlin © Fabiolla Loureiro
“Every city, no matter how it looks is a work of art. Fifty years have lapsed and with the thousands of photographs I have taken, I still find photography amazing. There are still millions of things and people that are worthy to be shot.” Daido Moriyama
Off the landmarks
One of Daido's signature is the everyday life in Tokyo, mainly in the streets of Shinjuku. Not landmarks, not tourism sites, no, none of it. The city itself is a sea of subjects he captures with his camera in a never ending land of images. Of course that every time I visit a new city, interests me to know the landmarks of it. But also, the beauty to wonder as a non tourist in unknown places fascinates me. To get lost in narrow streets, walk with the camera in my hand, moving from place to place. The elements of street photography is the language in my work that explodes in a colorful world of intense black and white.
“I can’t see the point of taking complicated photographs when taking good ones is so simple. You just have to keep your finger on the button.” Daido Moriyama
© Daido Moriyama
We see in Daido's work spontaneous and intuitive photos of Japanese people. Why complicate when is so simply to take good photos of common situations? That’s what I try to bring to my work. To be able to transform the ordinary into extraordinary. To bring before your eyes beauty in the most silly ways. A creative process of authentic situations; an extension of my feelings through my lens. I want that you, my public, may be able to see the black and white as I see. The buzz of the city, the metaphor of night life strolling the elusive still of melancholy.
The gritty black and white
“One distinction I can make—I’ve written about this in my essays: black-and-white photography has an erotic edge for me, in a broad sense. Color doesn’t have that same erotic charge. It doesn’t have so much to do with what is being photographed; in any black-and-white image there is some variety of eroticism. If I am out wandering and I see photographs hung on the walls of a restaurant, say, if they are black and white, I get a rush! It’s really a visceral response. I haven’t yet seen a color photograph that has given me shivers. That is the difference between the two.” Daido Moriyama
Daido strong black and white style remains the same after all these years. We can clearly see it in his work. I can say that today, my work is 100% about travel street photography. Not only the black is my signature, but tells a lot how I see things. For me there is no middle terms. Things are or aren't. That’s how I see everything in my life, and that’s how I apply the black and white in my photography. Says who I am, what I love and how I respond through my lens what I see. The contrasting lights of the night are my favorite nuances. Today I can see that my public is also a lover of the night life. My public strolls along with aspects of the night sharped by my lens and my point of view. I don’t do it simply for aesthetics. I do it because it’s who I am. You will find a few color galleries in my website. If I like colors? Yes, of course, but as I said, the black and white is my way to see things.
Berlin © Fabiolla Loureiro
“I basically walk quite fast. I like taking snapshots in the movement of both myself and the outside world. When I walk around I probably look like a street dog because after walking around the main roads, I keep wandering around the back streets.” Daido Moriyama
One of the things I love the most in Daido's work is that his photos are completely non pretentious. They are what they are. And how he does that? Lead by his curiosity, he photographs what he finds interesting and with no destination whatsoever in his mind. And better yet, alone.
I always felt bothered when in a group of photographers when I was studying photography (it only last 3 months). Could not bear all the talking and show off. And that was 10 years ago. Imagine how is nowadays... After that, when I used to have an Instagram account, I usually was invited by groups of photographers, here in São Paulo, to go out and shoot together, but I never went in any of these encounters. Why? Well, first of all, in my opinion, I think photographers do a better work when they photograph alone. Secondly, even if it is me and just another photographer, I clearly see no point in that. Thirdly, people can be quite disturbing. And, last but not least, I love to wander alone. Sometimes take a walk, photograph, walk, seat in a bar, have a drink, two, three, and then go out again. Day or night, no destiny on my mind. Just walk like a proper flâneur around the city. It feels so great to photograph alone, the urban perspective hovers in my mind like a dialogue of improvisation, intense energy and roughness. For me it works like this: in order to achieve what I love in photography, I need to be alone. As pure as black and white, no distractions.
© Daido Moriyama