- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd (16 Sept. 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0500290954
- ISBN-13: 978-0500290958
- Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 1.9 x 20.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Why It Does Not Have To Be In Focus: Modern Photography Explained Paperback – 16 Sep 2013
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If you're after a pocket primer in contemporary art photography, Why It Does Not Have to Be In Focus offers an incisive starting point. --The Daily Telegraph
It's a great book - inventive, and persuasively argued. --Amateur Photographer
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Top Customer Reviews
Many will have heard the names Henri Cartier-Bresson, Nan Goldin, Cindy Sherman and Gillian Wearing. Others are unfamiliar to me, like Francesca Woodman who tragically committed suicide at the age of 22.
There is a double page spread for each photo, discussing how and why it was taken, with information about the photographer. Some are weird, surreal, and some are surely posturing, pretentious? Waiting for someone to point out the Emperor is not wearing any clothes?
P.53 - a photo of a light bulb! The comment is "this image could be interpreted as an amateur, almost accidental, snapshot of a ceiling." Hm. P 65 another photo which suggests a "family holiday snapshot" but it has paint smeared across it.
But there is exciting, challenging stuff, a bouquet of flowers captured in the moment of exploding, there is restaging of Old Masters and surreal fantasy scenes.
Perhaps Alex Prager, whose enigmatic photo Deborah is on page 147, sums it up: "It's not photography... they should come up with another word for what the young generation of photographers are doing." Andreas Gursky, famous for his oversized photos of supermarkets, agrees. "A fixed definition of the term "photography" has become impossible."
Some familiar names are included such as Andy Warhol, Martin Parr, and Henri Cartier-Bresson but with 100 different contemporary artists there is bound to be some new photographers to discover.
Underexposed, overexposed, cropped subjects, out of focus all the "errors" of photography are presented and discussed in the context of pushing the boundaries of photography.
Many of the photographs are controversial and you are unlikely to like every item in the book, but they are thought provoking which may justify the tag line "Anything can be art".
This book will be of value to anybody studying photography at A-Level or diploma level. It is also of value to any photographer interested in looking beyond the norm in photography.
However, the books easy to read format is its major downfall. There is only so much the author can say in a double page spread which includes the photo and other footnotes.
What I find with books like these is they act as an appetite-whetter and I discover new photographers or work I had forgotten about, this acts as a jumping off point and I wander off to look at new work. Handily, the author includes on each page a list of similar photos by the same artist.
Higgins is clearly a writer of some knowledge and her mastery of the vernacular is impressive. She uses what little space she has to offer incisive comment on both image and artist.
As a primer this is very good, however it lacks depth which leaves the reader wanting more.
The best aspect of this book is the range of artists and techniques on show. Sometimes the subject of the photograph is subverted or experimented with (as in the chapter on portraits and narrative); other times technique comes to the fore, for example Michael Wesely's years-long camera exposures, Gerhard Richter's doctoring of snapshots with lush smears of paint, or the many instance of cameraless photography. These are works that can be returned to again and again and they are a good starting point for further reading.
Overall, though, the book feels rather small and cramped. Half the works fall on the fold, meaning it's difficult to appreciate them as a whole, and numerous text boxes on each page jostle confusingly for attention.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great if your doing Photography at GCSE or College comes in really handy, and all round amazing book.Published 16 days ago by Amazon Customer
I love this little book, it explains a lot about imagery and makes you look a lot deeper in to the photograph rather than just the surface.Published 3 months ago by alienfunk
I bought this because I felt - as an enthusiast and practitioner within the classical tradition - I needed to make a serious attempt to understand 'contemporary' photography. Read morePublished 3 months ago by I. G. Wright
Really nice overview of a variety of genres and practitioners.
The themed chapters each include an interesting informed chapter title pages, that explain that genre and... Read more
Challenging but lots of intriguing insights. I felt that I would have preferred fewer photographers and more about each picture. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Mr. Gareth Williams
I haven't really had the chance to look at this book, but i find it very limiting. Compared to other photography books i have, this book gives me a very limited read/look at... Read morePublished 7 months ago by P. S. Wood
Great book that provides good value for money and a lot of useful information to enable a good appreciationPublished 7 months ago by Merlin