Sunday, 8 May 2011

Daido Moriyama

The official Daido Moriyama website can be visited by clicking the link below. Note that it contains a lot of flash content and will be slow to load if your broadband is as crummy as mine. :(
Daido Moriyama official web site|DaidoMoriyamaPhotoFoundation
According to Wikipedia Moriyama is renowned for his high-contrast black and whites of the less attractive bits of Japan, and his official website certainly bears this out – although he takes some high-contrast b/was of the less attractive bits of New York as well. His technique – which according to this site is to underexpose at high ISO then overdevelop to produce a very high contrast, grainy end result – is perfectly suited to much of his subject matter. In fact, I’m left wondering if some of the shots would have nowhere near the ‘under-belly’ feel if the film had not been so harshly treated.
To me his shots illustrate the sterile nature of a lot of debate on camera forums about lens sharpness/pixels/ISO etc. It seems the secret is to understand your equipment and use it to deliver your vision. Moriyama’s work is interesting in part because of the imperfections and because of the way they gel with his chosen subjects.

Update (03 June 2011): Found a brief interview with Moriyama here. A couple of points worthy of note are that he continues to produce work on film - which I guess best suits his style, and his more recent shots offer more 'clarity' than his earlier work. From the interview it seems clear that he is trying to produce photos of what he sees as the real Japan, perhaps even trying to strip away a veneer to show the real thing.

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