focus final jacket


The Sexy, Secret, Sometimes Sordid World of Fashion Photographers

“Does not skimp on the gossipy goods. There are descents into madness, prolific drug use, orgies, blackmail photos and suicide attempts…But this book…is also smart, well-researched and written with an insider’s eye…engaging and on point.” --Kim France, New York Times Book Review

"A delicious read. Sweeping...thoughtful..."--The Daily Beast

"Tightly written, exhaustively researched...skillfully juxtaposes the idiosyncracies, peccadillos, and debaucheries of his protagonists... with the shifting cultural and economic milieu in which they functioned."--Barnes & Noble Review

“I thought I knew practically everything about the fashion industry, but Michael Gross has corrected me. His thoroughly absorbing narrative dazzles with the most profound investigation and research. Focus is an enthralling and riveting read!” --Tim Gunn

"Important…clear and thorough." --National Post (Canada)

"Gross has deftly woven an intricate web of fashion, photography, and magazine publishing that is simply unrivaled... Focus is a sensation... [It] brilliantly blends the wild histories of seemingly disparate lives... Gross is a modern day Vasari, giving us The Lives of the Artists in no small measure." --Sara Rosen, craveonline

"An often-shocking tale rife with bed-hopping hotties, rampant drug use and cut-throat antics. Gross knows his stuff, delving deep into the fascinating rivalries and wicked manipulations that take place behind the cameras."--Larry McShane, The Daily News

“Highly critical of the current moment, in which advertisers and large corporations have taken the reins of the publishing business, [Gross] doesn't see fashion as dead--just in intensive care…In an account through which models, editors, art directors and photographers pass, personal anecdotes intersect with key events in fashion history, allowing a close-up experience of a period Gross considers unique."–Estel Vilaseca, El País (Spain)

"a behind-the-scenes view of fashion photography’s apex. Gross shows us the humanity or lack there-of in all these real life figures that he chooses to represent as the epitome of the art at its peak. Focus provides fascinating insight into the lives of these fashion icons [and] shows us the freedom, individuality, self-expression and experimentation in an industry that has long since lost those values, chasing money now instead of dreams…An exciting read, full of anecdotes and whispers of a fashion era long gone, a must for photography enthusiasts, magazine historians, fashionistas, and lovers of haute couture gossip.." --Tal Yaron, Musée Magazine

"It covers the lives of fashion photography’s masters, detailing their creative spirit and technical skill alongside their egos and vices. It shares the stories of the men and women behind the legends, what made them, what broke them, and why we must remember them today.." --Elyssa Goldman,

"A juicy history of scandalous lives." --Booklist

"A sizzling, gossipy read...Relentless reporting."--Hamptons Magazine


“It is a phantasmagoria of gossip, history, fabulous times, terrible times; the men (and a couple of women) who turned their creative lenses onto runways, clothes, models and (as in the case of Richard Avedon) onto America itself. If you love fashion and/or the art of photography, this book is for you. But even if you couldn’t care less about the skirts swirled or the fabric bunched, or how Bert Stern or Irving Penn or David Bailey or Bruce Weber or Corinne Day or Bob and Terry Richardson or Helmut Newton or Bill King achieved their effects, Focus gives us page after page of down and delicious dish….Michael Gross captures the bizarre hot-house intensity of an industry that is both ever-changing but eternally the same….Michael also conveys the genius (sometimes tortured) of the photographers…This is a big, intelligent, exhaustively researched, lovingly written book….Focus finds the fire beneath the ice of glossy magazine pages, and does it without burning down the house.” --Liz Smith, New York Social Diary

“Tales of famous shoots and industry backstories during the ‘glory days’ of the genre…of the sexual promiscuity and recreational drug use of these (mostly male) photographers. The subject matter will be historically significant to those who are concerned with the photo artist’s role in the golden age of modern fashion photography. VERDICT: Recommended for enthusiasts of fashion and fashion photography.” --Shauna Frischkorn, Library Journal

“A gossipy exposé … of the talented, arrogant, philandering, combative, self-aggrandizing photographers whose work appeared in, and defined, such iconic fashion magazines as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Glamour, and Elle from 1947 to 1997 … sometimes-tangy, often scurrilous … Not a pretty picture.” --Kirkus Reviews

“I loved reading all the juicy details that Michael uncovered in this fast-paced—and clearly insider—look at the rarefied, sexy world of fashion photography." --Lauren Weisberger, author, The Devil Wears Prada

"Focus is the ‘House of Cards’ of fashion." --Nino Cerruti, designer

“Michael Gross‘s FOCUS is that rare thing: an equally delicious and deeply informative book, a news-breaking romp through the world of fashion photography, from its beginnings early in the last century to the recent controversial exploits of super bad boy Terry Richardson. Richard Avedon, Bert Stern, Deborah Turbeville, Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel: these and so many others whose work I’ve enjoyed in VOGUE and BAZAAR are given context and smart analysis, and magazine editors and owners appear, too, revealing an industry of art and commerce. An outstanding work of cultural history.” --Sheila Weller, author, Girls Like Us

“Michael Gross takes us on a compelling journey through a hugely desirable culture – a culture which sometimes destroyed its most brilliant children and which is now slipping as irretrievably into the past as Versailles or the Swinging 60s.” --Anthony Haden-Guest, author, Bad Dreams, The Last Party, True Colors

In this rollicking account of fashion photography’s golden age, the New York Times-bestselling author Michael Gross brings to life the genius, ego, passion, and wild antics of the men (and a few women) behind the camera.

Focus probes the lives, hang-ups, and artistic triumphs of more than a dozen of fashion photography’s greatest visionaries: Avedon, Penn, Schatzberg, Sokolsky, Stern, Bailey, King, Turbeville, Newton, Bensimon, Weber, Meisel, Day, the Richardsons, and more. From Avedon’s haute couture fantasies and telling portraits to Weber’s sensual, intimate, and heroic slices of life, and from Bob Richardson’s provocations to his son Terry’s transgressions, Focus takes readers behind the scenes to reveal the revolutionary creative processes and fraught private passions of these imagicians.

Tracing fashion photography from the late 1940s to today, Gross weaves together candid interviews, never-before-told insider anecdotes and insights born of his three decades of front-row and backstage reporting on modern fashion. An unprecedented look at an eccentric and seductive profession.

September 6th, 2016

Focus featured in Barnes & Noble Review

“Tightly written, exhaustively researched,” Ted Panken writes in “A Fascination with the Moment,” Focus “skillfully juxtaposes the idiosyncrasies, peccadilloes, and debaucheries of [its] protagonists… with the shifting cultural and economic milieu in which they functioned.” Read our lengthy interview here.

September 4th, 2016

Let it rain (adjectives). Read the exposé reviewers call “important (1), amazing…

… big, intelligent, exhaustively researched, lovingly written (2), smart, well researched and written with an insider’s eye… engaging and on point….canny (3), delicious, sweeping, thoughtful, (4), thoroughly absorbing…enthralling and riveting (5), deep-diving …groundbreaking (6), juicy. . . fascinating (7), sizzling…relentless (8), often-shocking (9), simply unrivaled…a sensation (10), astonishing and unprecedented (11), exciting…a must” (12). Focus. On sale online and in bookstores.

Sources: National Post, Chicago Tribune Syndicate, New York Times Book Review, The Daily Beast, Tim Gunn, Project Runway, DuJour, Booklist, Hamptons Magazine, Daily News, craveonline, The Daily Mail, Musée Magazine.

August 29th, 2016

For Focus, an end-of-summer Hamptons book-end

Focus is “provocative…dishy…” writes Hamptons magazine in an end of summer bookend to its Memorial Day preview of the book. “Fans of his previous work will not be disappointed.” [Scroll down to read a brief interview.]

August 22nd, 2016

The reviews are in and Focus is….

“Smart, well researched and written with an insider’s eye… engaging and on point….canny,” (Kim France, New York Times Book Review), “delicious, sweeping, thoughtful,” (The Daily Beast), “thoroughly absorbing…enthralling and riveting,” (Tim Gunn, Project Runway), “amazing… big, intelligent, exhaustively researched, lovingly written,” (Liz Smith, Chicago Tribune Syndicate), “deep-diving …groundbreaking,” (DuJour), “sizzling…relentless,” (Hamptons Magazine), “juicy. . . fascinating,” (Booklist), “often-shocking,” (Daily News), “simply unrivaled…a sensation,” (craveonline), “astonishing and unprecedented,” (The Daily Mail), “exciting…a must,” (Musée), and “important,” (National Post).

August 19th, 2016

Focus: “Such a delicious read” –The Daily Beast

Writing on The Daily Beast today, Lisa Santandrea says Focus is “such a delicious read…sweeping if not exhaustive; thoughtful, but not a work of criticism…It concentrates on the ‘glory days’ of fashion photography, from 1947 to 1997, and traces the rise and the fall of the celebrity photographer. Unfortunately for them, the fall occurs more swiftly than the rise.”

August 16th, 2016

Focus reviewed in the International New York Times

International NYTImes Review
Focus “does not skimp on the gossipy goods,” writes Kim France. “There are descents into madness, prolific drug use, orgies, blackmail photos and suicide attempts…But this book…is also smart, well-researched and written with an insider’s eye…engaging and on point.” Click the image to read the review

August 11th, 2016

Reminder: Focus on East Hampton this weekend

AuthorsNight2016 (1)
I’ll be attending the East Hampton Library’s annual Author’s Night on Saturday, signing copies of Focus, described last Sunday in the New York Times Book Review as “well-researched and written with an insider’s eye,” “engaging,” “on point,” “canny,” and bursting with “gossipy goods.” Please click the image for details and come. Carpe Librum!

August 11th, 2016

Focus is “very compelling,” says PBS host Steve Adubato, and “a page-turner,” says Woodstock Writer’s Radio host Martha Frankel

Watch my interview with Steve Adubato here. Listen to my interview with Martha Frankel here.

August 4th, 2016

Focus is “well researched and written with an insider’s eye…engaging and on point…canny…” –New York Times Book Review

“There are descents into madness, prolific drug use, orgies, blackmail photos and suicide attempts, successful and otherwise,” Kim France writes in this coming Sunday’s Book Review.  ”There is so much womanizing that the theme of infidelity is basically a subplot, and pretty much boils down to the following: A stunning model walks into a photographer’s studio; a marriage dies.”  Click the link to read the review.  

August 2nd, 2016

“The ultimate beach book…unrivaled…a sensation…” –Crave Online

Crave Online’s Sara Rosen writes that Focus is “an intricate web of fashion, photography, and magazine publishing that is simply unrivaledFocus is a sensation, one that brilliantly blends the wild histories of seemingly disparate lives that were bumping up against each other inside the magazines. Gross is a modern day Vasari, giving us The Lives of the Artists in no small measure. But Focus is more than the stories contained within: it is an epitaph for an era whose time has come and gone.”