There is a new book that will be of interest to Street Photographers that is short and to the point but is really quite educational. It is How I Photograph by the legendary street photographer Daido Moriyama. It is only 208 pages and includes only 36 pages of text but if you listen closely to what he has to say and study the included images you will understand how he works.
I’m a little unorthodox in my views. I’ve always said that photographers should put aside “concepts” or “themes” when they go out to shoot. Of course, I understand young people want to have a conceptual basis for their work I was the same way, starting out. But even in my earliest photographs, the collection titled “Yokosuka” for example, I knew I wanted to take pictures of Yokosuka”, but I had no agenda- I never thought to myself, Right, I’m going to explore the political tensions of Yokosuka”, or anything like that.
Moriyama talks about his transition from film to digital and makes it clear that it really makes little difference to him how his images are captured. His images show that he shoots with the same style with film and digital and proves that it is the photographers vision not equipment that is paramount to making great images.
Photographs taken near water always come with an element of risk, Moriyama tells me. They can often feel quite dreamy and poetic, but this can be both good and bad.
Daido Moriyama has 2 distinctive elements to his shooting style. First he like to shoot with wide-angle lenses but he doesn’t like to take scenics. He likes to get in close and fill the frame and he also will compose to get as much as he can into the frame. He doesn’t like dead space in his images. Next he believes in shooting into the sun not having it to the back like most photographers prefer. This is what gives his images the high contrast look with deep dark shadows. It is an effective style that gives his images their signature look.
When you’re taking shots in neutral, in different places like this, you should match the mood, and take equally neutral and indifferent pictures.
I’m a big fan of books when the artist explains why they make the art that they create. In How I Take Photographs we get glimpses of how Daido Moriyama uses his unique vision to create his work. My only complaint is that the book is so short. I wish this book was twice as long, 36 pages of text is too short and it is a crime that it is not longer. I’m sure that I will read this book multiple times and will use some of the things that I have learned in my own photography. Studying the images after reading his thoughts has given me a deeper understanding of his work. I highly recommend this book.