Last Thursday at Japan Society New York I was lucky enough to attend a somewhat intimate lecture given by one of my photography heroes, Daido Moriyama. The event was sold out and the crowd was just as intrigued as I was. The enigmatic photographer spoke zero English and I feel the translation was a unfortunately not as solid as I would have hoped. Christopher Phillips, of The International Center of Photography, led the interview. His questions and commentary were not entirely that of ground breaking importance, but he walked a steady line of giving us a closer look at Moriyama’s personal views and beliefs. Regardless of what was being asked, it was truly a delight to be in the presence of so many people that appreciated amazing work.
My personal highlight for the evening happened when they opened the floor to ask questions.
I hesitated at first, but couldn’t resist the opportunity. My hand raised at every given chance, skipped and skipped again. Look over here Mr. Phillips! The front of the room has had their turn! We make eye contact. MY TURN! I proceed to ask a very nerdy question regarding his camera preference. The question came from two sources. One being that I am a bit of a camera Otaku and just have to know his favorite and two stemmed from Moriyama announcing earlier in the evening his soon to be released photo book will be entirely in color and more importantly DIGITAL!
After some thought, he answers telling me that he has used many, many Ricoh cameras over the years for his snapshots. These are of course the monochromatic shots we have come to know him for. However, for the digital photos he has switched to a Nikon. This of course got me very excited as I own a Nikon DSLR. He then added in a very charming, old man remark “I wish there was one camera that can do both equally well (digital color & black and white). I can’t figure out why they don’t make one.” The crowd laughs.
There were many thoughts shared that caught my interest, but a few really stood out. The first being his outlook on photography as a tool of memory, time, and documentation. Yes, these are quite literal uses of photography, but the overlaying theme of time seems to be a large influence on many Japanese artists.
"A photo catches now, but now is also the past as well as the future.”
A moment in time. At the time, it was now. An interesting view to think about in relation to our memory.
The other being his personal motto.
"Quality comes with quantity."
Being as prolific a photographer as him, is definitely a task very few can meet. I wonder if he feels he got to where he is because he has shot thousands of photos or because out of those photos someone managed to grab onto the right ones. Though he outright said there is no one else in Japan as good as him other than Araki, this statement humanizes his art that makes it feel less about being creative and more about happy accidents.