Thames & Hudson

Book Review #5

If you are looking for a professional book review I suggest you look elsewhere. If however you are interested in what a normal general member of the public & student of photography thinks, read on….. Why it does not have to be in focus: Modern Photography Explained (Published by Thames & Hudson) was recommended to me in my City & Guilds class.

Rather than running or cycling I am currently commuting by London Underground and have nothing interesting to look at; the black walls of the tunnel and a few early morning snoozers getting the last bit of shut eye before they arrive at work.

So I thought it’d add to the collection I’ve been reading to pass the time. The book written by Jackie Higgins looks at a hundred images, offers some insight into the artist and their history along with something of a break down on the particular image chosen.

This isn’t a book that offers to teach us photography and techniques what it does do is offer an insight into putting works into context. Something that was highlighted to me by a reader of my blog John Acurso (I don’t know if it was a one off where he stumbled across my blog or is an email subscriber). This was particular to a small article I wrote about a Helmut Newton display I seen while in Germany. Although I am still not personally taken by his work I could appreciate at the time  that he was a talented photographer but I hadn’t really put his work into context of a bigger picture and body of work.

In her book Jackie Higgins takes images that could be easily dismissed as poorly composed & just very badly executed photographs but then puts them into context of a wider collection. Talking about the artists other work, how and why they set about capturing images in the way they did.

The book made me think more about art & photography appreciation, without being arty-farty. As well as highlighting how fickle some viewers can be; suggesting one artists images in colour are openly dismissed but the same images, technique and subject matter produced in black and white are widely accepted.

The one thing I’ve taken from this book is that it has reinforced a lecturers statement in regards to the importance of intent.

Some of the subject matter has left me with more questions around issues of plagiarism, both accidental or outright theft. Some of it has given me ideas of my own (at least I think they are) and I am also feeling reassured that my experimenting with focus sometime ago shows that due to my intent I may one day be published in why it does not have to be in focus part two.

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I’m surprised how much I got from this book. Its one to keep on my bookshelf and I’m sure it will be one to reference should I go onto further education.

And…………. here are two of my early attempts at deliberate out of focus photography.

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For the record I have nothing to do with the author, publisher or any of the artists that feature in the book. For what its worth I found this book interesting, informative and found some inspiration for two maybe three future projects.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Jim Jimmy James