Born in Ikeda, Osaka, Moriyama studied photography under Takeji Iwamiya before moving to Tokyo in 1961 to work as an assistant to Eikoh Hosoe. He produced a collection of photographs, Nippon gekijō shashinchō, which showed the darker sides of urban life and the less-seen parts of cities. In them, he attempted to show how life in certain areas was being left behind the other industrialised parts.
Moriyama’s style is synonymous with that of Provoke magazine, which he was involved with in 1969, namely ‘are, bure, bokeh’, translated as ‘grainy / rough, blurry, and out-of-focus’.
Moriyama’s photography has been influenced by Seiryū Inoue, Shōmei Tōmatsu, William Klein, Andy Warhol, Eikoh Hosoe, the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, the dramatist Shūji Terayama and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.