Aside from apprenticeships to Takeji Iwamiya and Eikoh Hosoe, Osaka-born Daido Moriyama (b. 1938) is essentially self-taught and did not pursue formal training in photography. He became a freelance photographer in 1963. While apprenticing with Hosoe, Moriyama assisted in the production of Ordeal by Roses, a photo-essay of the novelist Yukio Mishima. It was also in this period that Moriyama’s work began to appear in photography magazines, including Camera Mainichi and Asahi Camera.

Disregarding the well-entrenched photographic conventions of reproduction, documentation and clear communication, Moriyama embraced the hand-held camera and high-contrast black-and-white film and took to the streets, indifferent to technical and compositional customs and niceties. He purposely sought to blur, scratch and mis-expose, leading critics to inveigh against his “are, bure, boke, konpura” (rough, blurred, out-of-focus, contemporary) approach. This upending of convention caused a stir in the late sixties when Japan was embroiled in student riots, precipitated in part by opposition to the renewal of the security treaty between Japan and the US. Regarding his work in the 1960s and 1970s Moriyama has acknowledged the influence of William Klein for the use of instantaneous conditions and natural light and of Andy Warhol for the use of repetition and the use of the silk screen technique.

A year after he received the 1967 new-artist award from the Japan Photo Critics Association, Moriyama joined a progressive photography collective that published the famous magazine Provoke, which criticised entrenched conventions of photographic expression. The magazine ceased publication and after three quarterly issues the collective disbanded in 1970. However, out of this Provoke-period came Shashin yo Sayonara, Moriyama’s photo book from 1972 that can be considered as one of the most extreme photo books ever published. Moriyama has stated that ‘I wanted to go to the end of photography’ and the book can be read as a summation of the Provoke period. Next to Shashin yo Sayonara (Bye Bye Photography; 1972), Moriyama has published many other books and magazines of which Nippon Geiko Shashin-cho (Japanese Theatre; 1968) and Kariudo (Hunter; 1972) are also widely known.

As of the 1970s Moriyama has not only exhibited frequently within Japan but also participated in several major exhibitions abroad: starting with New Japanese Photography at MoMA in New York (1974). His most recent major international exhibition was the duo-exhibition in Tate Modern, London with William Klein (2012).