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Can You Trust What’s Real? | The Mind Tricks of Robby Cavanaugh

By Teagan Alex on September 13th 2014


Have you ever looked at an image and thought to yourself.. there is no way that is real. That your mind was playing a cruel trick on you, and as you stare at it trying to figure out what it is that isn’t real, you realize that it is exactly what you thought in the first place? Welcome to the creative mind of Robby Cavanaugh.


Robby’s art features crazy out of this world possibilities that will have your mind in a conundrum for some time. And what is crazier, is all of his objects are, in fact, real. How is that for a mind trick? Inspired by the nature of photography, his surrealism was born. “Photography in general has a unique quality of capturing what we see and trust is real. I was obsessed with taking that realistic idea into something that has never been seen before.


Shaper of Dreams

Robby started his career by purchasing a camera with the little money he had and taught himself how to shoot. Once he learned how to work with his camera, he started focusing on materializing his emotions into stories that he could photograph. Then came the hard part, problem solving that concept or story. “It is easy to think of an idea, but to execute it into a photograph is a whole different issue.” He usually begins with sketching his ideas before hand. This helps him work out how the composition will be and make it easier to determine the best pose for the idea. Often times, the prop limits the pose, but thanks to sketching, he can see that from the start.


Last Goodbye

He finds his models from the group of people he knows. He finds that using people he knows makes the process easier for him. However, if he is looking for a specific type of person, he will search around and find the perfect match, while informing them of what type of work he does. He doesn’t use a stylist, mainly because he finds it easier to do it on his own. He finds that having to translate his idea to another person can lead to error, and a mistranslation of his idea.

Robby doesn’t have a favorite photograph, however, he has one that he is most proud of. ‘Captive of Her Will’ is that photograph. He is most proud of this photograph because “the first attempt I made at it failed miserably. So now, whenever I look at that photo, I remember to not give up and keep pushing forward.


Captive of Her Will

Pushing forward is something that we can all work on, his advice is simply that. “I know it can be very intimidating to start photography. There are so many talented people its easy to get discouraged. The biggest advice I can give you is that if you have a passion for photography, and you are taking those images, not one person will see photography the way you see it. Use your uniqueness in your photography.



To check out his creative reality, see his portfolio here. Keep up on his latest works  and see behind the scenes with his Facebook here.


CREDITS: All photographs by Robby Cavanaugh are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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Teagan Alex is an Event and Fine Art Photographer based in Salt Lake City Utah. She believes that all people are inherently beautiful, and loves to capture the details of the world around her.

She received her BFA degree from UVU in photography and since has been published in books and magazines, multiple gallery shows, and won best in show for her work. Visit her website at and connect with her via Facebookor Instagram.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. desmond chislom


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  2. Aaron Cheney

    Beautiful imagery! Great article

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  3. Daniel Jester

    So, it turns out, this guy works as a retoucher for the company I shoot for! Small world.

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    I like the creativity keep up with the awesome work

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  5. della rossa

    very nice post dude..

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  6. Austin Swenson

    I’m liking all these images a lot, I think it’s cool to manipulate what you see in the image by trying all kinds of stuff. I do wonder how many takes you have to do to get it just right though

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  7. Chuck Eggen

    Kind of eerie yet interesting. I’ve thought of doing something like this. But, I guess who hasn’t. Kudos to him for the creativity and actually doing it.

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