Seaduction: The Sensuous Side of the Sea | Book Review

15 October 2013 by GrrlScientist, posted in Book review

SUMMARY: a big book filled with lots of pretty pictures (but with nothing of substance)

I had high hopes for this book.

I still remember Jacques Cousteau's magnificent tome, The Ocean World, which was crammed with hundreds of stunning undersea photographs and -- as I discovered one week whilst lying in bed fighting off a particularly nasty virus -- filled with lots of information about the underwater world and the myriad creatures that populate it.

This book reminded me of that one by Jacques Cousteau.

So with that in mind, I assumed that Beverly Factor's Seaduction: The Sensuous Side of the Sea [Schiffer Publishing Ltd; 2013: Amazon UK; Amazon US] would be similarly inspirational and educational. Even Jacques Cousteau's son, Jean-Michael, highly recommended this book by contributing a glowing forward.

But I was ... less than impressed.

Basically, this is a picture book. It's filled with beautiful close-up photographs of amazing marine invertebrates, and these images reveal these creatures' exotic colours, patterns and textures. Any one of these images, which fills an entire page, would make a lovely framed picture to display on a wall.

But after looking at the first dozen or so photographs, they began to blend together. The images became less alluring and more formulaic: the same dozen or so creatures were photographed from same few camera angles, using the same focal length and probably even the same lens. Dazzling became repetitive.

Flipping through this book again, it is plain that the author is trying to impress us with her photography. But after studying these images, I ended up feeling that the book was merely a desultory collection of sea creatures. A limited Christmas catalogue featuring (a very few) bright baubles. The lack of any sort of information about the creature in the photograph combined with the photographer's complete lack of empathy for her subjects (as betrayed by each image's trite one or two word title, such as "miraculous" or "zoning in") was depressing. There wasn't even any information regarding the equipment used to capture the photograph.

The fact is that Jean-Michael Cousteau contributed more words -- in the form of complete sentences and paragraphs -- to this inconsequential book than has the author.

That said, the pictures really are very pretty. But they are much better suited to a calendar, date book or wall poster than to a bloated 176-page book that is anchored to a colossal price tag.

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Disclaimer: This review is based on a PDF e-galley provided by NetGalley and read using bluefire reader. GrrlScientist has no known connection to the book's author/photographer. No compensation in any form was received by GrrlScientist for this review. All images appear here by courtesy of the publisher.

NOTE: this piece is slightly edited from the original, which was written by GrrlScientist and published by the Guardian.

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Beverly Factor has been a certified NAUI dive master for over 20 years. Her award-winning photography has been exhibited in many galleries and fine art shows and has been widely published in countless magazines, books, and calendars. This is her second book. Boston born, Ms Factor now lives in Laguna Beach, California.

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Grrlscientist can also be found on on her eponymous Guardian blog, and she sometimes lurks on social media; facebook, G+, LinkedIn, Pinterest. She's quite active on twitter: @GrrlScientist

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