Initially trained in graphic design, Moriyama moved to Tokyo in 1961 where he was taken on as an assistant by experimental filmmaker and photographer Eikoh Hosoe. Pursuing a freelance career in 1964, he soon acquired a reputation as a provocative street photographer and was to become the most prominent artist to emerge from the influential Provoke movement (1968–70), connected with the experimental photography magazine of the same name. The socially engaged Provoke magazine sought to free photography from tradition, presenting a radical new black and white style characterised as grainy and blurred. An admirer of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, much of Moriyama’s work is concerned with photographic journeying and the chance encounter. He describes his process as follows: ‘I simply go outside and walk… I walk, I encounter, I shoot. It may look like I’m just pointing the camera at what’s in front of me. But I’m trying to photograph what people see, but don’t notice – something that’s mysterious and unknown in everyday life.’ Moriyama has been the subject of numerous major exhibitions in Japan, Europe and the United States since the 1970s and he won the prestigious Hasselblad award in 2019.