When you look at the photographs of English photographer Tom Kavanagh (b. 1985), you experience a sense of peace and clarity, as if you’re in a deep meditation. He captures the freshness of the present moment and finds beauty in our everyday existence. In his photobook YTYKWYA, an acronym of You Think You Know Where You Are, he bundles together his somewhat abstract photographs. “It’s a photographic travel guide about being lost,” Kavanagh tells us. “Mentally as well as physically.”
The only accompanying text in the book is the wonderful quote of Luke Norton: “My beating heart’s a ticking clock, I fell to earth and didn’t stop.” From here, his journey through neverland begins. We wake up in foggy skyscapes and catch the first gentle sunbeams, seemingly offering the question: where shall I go today? His photos make it seem okay to get lost, as we then truly starting to understand ourselves. Recurring symbols of spiritual devotion, like figures of Maria and Jesus, crosses and a chaplet emphasize this fact. The book embodies the quest for personal exploration.
With a wide selection of images – from concrete walls to smooth marble Roman figures, from bagels to several curtains – Kavanagh alternates between an attention to detail and observing mostly empty spaces, providing a thorough review of the different places he visited. The mood this book leaves us with is quite ambiguous, simultaneously peaceful and disorientating to the eye. Even the layout encourages this sense of being lost in tranquillity: each different sized photograph is surrounded by a large amount of white space and sometimes it feels like images repeat themselves, as though you’re walking in circles. Kavanagh perfectly assembles a record of a world where people probably feel more lost in their lives than they’ll ever feel found. A world that perhaps looks more similar to ours then we would like to admit.