Stray Dog is not a novel. Stray Dog is a book explaining, and showcasing what post war contemporary photography was like in Japan, through the lens of Daido Moriyama. To make it more interesting, it’s a book published by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
The first 48 pages talks quite extensively on the underworld photography scene that was happening with Moriyama, VIVO, Tomatsu, Hosoe, et al, in quite fine detail. Two essays finish off the discussions written by Daido Moriyama himself, the first entitled Memories of a Dog, and the second Shomei Tomatsu: The Man and His Work. Biographies that step a person into anothers life are always so fascinating for the let you find another dimension into another world.
The pages that follow, are filled with pages of street photography that Moriyama has taken. Many taken from moving vehicles, as life is in passing. In his essays, he talked about how he wanted to capture life instantaneously, and then in a second, that image will never be there again.
Cars burning, hotel room photographs with a naked girl out of focus, movie posters. I found that his work had a lot of meaning, significantly with a movement, and also significantly with the subject matter. His style, as you can see, is not your particularly fancy images you see in pop culture today, that the iPhone can take, but creative in more ways than that, and also by coincidence.
It is interesting to take a moment discuss how relevant the out of focus images are, as well as the focused image. Moriyama tends to push the grainy, high contrast style of photography where the subject matter doesn’t necessarily make sense, and neither does the frame it is taken in, which also leads one to believe it makes perfect sense in all of the muted figures, distorted understandings of the photographs themselves. Having a reference with the essays at the start, really lend one to fully comprehend the intention of the images.
If you’re interested in understand some very fundamental and intentional interest in focusing on a specific culture, and exploring it with a relentless passion as an observer, then I suggest you take a few moments to understand what Moriyama was interested in and dive headlong into Stray Dog.