Photography Showcase #2 with Denise Kavanagh - Visit North Mayo

EXPOSURE: A Photographic Showcase – Part Two (Denise Kavanagh)

This is the second in a series of articles celebrating the photographic talent of the Mayo North region. This week we look at the beautiful work of Denise Kavanagh. Denise’s work spans many themes and the collection of images chosen exhibit this. Denise is able to convey mystifying stillness on one hand, and on the other, she displays great skill in capturing power, strength and motion. What follows is a short interview with Denise about her relationship with photography: 

1. How did you get into photography?

I have always been interested in photography, even from a young age. I remember my aunt bought me a little blue film camera and I thought it was the best thing ever, cutting edge technology! Myself, my sister and my friend Roisin used to take a lot of photographs and head to the pharmacy to get them developed. It was always so exciting to see what we had caught on film.

We participated in ‘Cross Border’ schemes with the youth clubs in Sligo to get kids from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to experience each others lives. On one of these trips, we were brought to a photographer and given film cameras. We took photographs around Belfast and developed the pictures in a dark room afterwards. I remember being amazed watching the photograph appear in the darkroom. It was like magic.

After the dark room experience I started to buy National Geographic magazine, mainly just to look at the photographs. I then studied Communication Studies in University where we had to choose radio, photography or television as our primary module. I chose radio at the time but as the years went on I still had a huge interest in photography and kept it up as a hobby. I was waitressing in a cafe in Sligo after college. After making a few thousand coffees, I bought a lovely camera and I was hooked.

My camera is my absolutely favourite thing in the world.

2. What do you love about photography?

I love capturing a moment. Even if it is as insignificant as someone having a cup of tea, eventually you can look back at that photograph and have a little intimate slice of time. An insignificant photograph of someone can end up meaning a lot to you in the future.

Photography makes you look at the little things and it also makes you pay more attention to your surroundings. Even if I am driving to the shop, I will look at the view  and have a moment of ‘that light is hitting the grass in the field beautifully’…..or even appreciate the formation of clouds in the sky or the sunset. It makes you look at the beauty of the world, whether it is stormy or sunny!

Photography is accessible to everyone and I love looking at other peoples photographs. Everyone has a different perspective on the world and it is amazing to see what their perspective is through the photographs that they take. I love giving a camera to my little brother and seeing what he comes back with, kids see the world so differently so I think it’s fascinating to see what a child would take a photograph versus what an adult would take a photograph of. You can see the world through someone else’s eyes.

3. What is your favourite place in the North Mayo area to take photographs and why?

I love to take photographs in Ballina. It has several different landscapes to choose from; the town, the woods, the river, the quay etc. I love Belleek woods because there is still that little kid in me that loves to hang out in the woods and feed the ducks.

The Quay also looks amazing on a calm day when the water is glassy.

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