Ros Kavanagh explains how architecture informs his approach to all photography

In case you’re wondering, photographer Ros Kavanagh holds a degree in architecture. That might not be immediately evident from this still taken at a rehearsal of the Pan Pan Theatre Company’s production ‘Crumb Trail’ at the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival in 2009. But if architecture’s the mother of all the arts, it’s no surprise to see the Irish photographer crossing his disciplines. 

‘I hold it still as the genesis of my approach to work,’ he tells us. ‘My main offer is documentary. I record work; whether it is a building, a performance, a design, an installation or piece of art.’ 

Kavanagh has always been intrigued by stage design and the way it helps optimise the power of a script and the specific choreography of a performance. He’s fascinated by the smoke and mirrors of it all, saying: ‘Materials are not what they seem, what looks like a thick concrete wall is actually a skin of plaster over canvas, that heavy plinth will hover in the air at some point.’ It is this antithesis of truth and honesty to materials that seems to thrill him.

For ‘Crumb Trail’, Pan Pan played on the practice of taping out areas in rehearsal spaces in black box theatre; where the spatial conceit of newly defined limits becomes a site within which performance is enabled; what Kavanagh calls ‘true form follows function’. His image, emerging from the shadows, was a spur of the moment shot; using a fast shutter speed and with no care for perspective or alignment. The opposite of his architectural work, it is uncomposed – but no less balanced or beautiful.