Deadly Book Club || Why It Does Not Have To Be In Focus

Hello, Lovelies!

I have been BEYOND excited to publish this post for quite some time, and so excited to share this with you all. Studying a degree in English Literature and Publishing, and a hardcore bibliophile, there is nothing I love more than books. If anything, my whole life revolves around them. Over the years I have attended many book clubs, and thought it was time to start my own!

I have a fairly eclectic taste in genres, so I hope there will be something over the course of these posts that suits everyone. Also, I am aiming to keep this pretty much spoiler-free, so if you haven't read the books yet you can still indulge in the Deadly Book Club.


For the first instalment of the Deadly Book Club, I thought I would talk about a book I was given back in 2014, which arguably not only changed my artistic direction completely but the way I viewed consciousness and its connection to our creative output.

Why It Does Not Have To Be In Focus', written by Jackie Higgins, was given to me by artist uncle, Chris Bucklow (who is actually featured in this book). In the inscription, he writes "This book is about the art of modern photography and it includes the people who are thought to be the best from around the world today."

And that's exactly what this is. It's modern photography explained; broken down if you will so that you can sift through what seems like an endless sea of creatives and get to the core. Choosing 100 key photographs with particular emphasis on the last twenty years Higgins examines what inspired each photographer in the first place, and traces how the piece was executed. In doing so, she brings to light the layers of meaning and artifice behind these singular works, some of which were initially dismissed out of hand for being blurred, overexposed or badly composed. The often controversial works discussed in this book play with our expectations of a photograph, our ingrained tendency to believe that it is telling us the unadorned truth. Jackie Higgins' book proves once and for all that there's much more to the art of photography than just pointing and clicking.

With all art, it is of course subjective. But Higgins provides an insightful breadth of what is out there, in a way that is both engaging and perspicacious. The layout of the book makes it perfect to pick up at intervals, to flip through the pages or a specific read - a perfect coffee-table book. The six chapters group the works into portraits, document, still life, narrative, landscapes, and abstract.

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 instances of cameraless photography. These are works that can be returned to again and again and they are a good starting point for further reading.

That said it does suffer from one fatal flaw and that is its compact size. The majority of photographs fall on the fold, and as a result, I was constantly frustrated by images being intersected by the angle of the inside of the spine of the book. This seems fairly minor, but for a book that relies heavily on the images, seems like a rather rookie mistake.

That said, this doesn't detract from the fact that this is a must-read; whether you're an art fan or not.

I would love to know what you think of this if you do pick it up, and as always I welcome book recommendations below or via my social media.

All My Love

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