We have a passion for all things Star Wars at home, much as I had growing up in a large and boisterous family with culturally enthused dinner conversation which embraced Williams’ accessible classical music through movies, each inextricably linked. The concept development was driven by the need both to create something beautiful and emotive that has true meaning for my Star Wars obsessed boys and to quench our thirst for involvement in The Force Awakens. It was about honoring the cultural phenomenon in the eyes of their 5 and 7 year old selves and imagination.
But perhaps more importantly, it was about how empowering the images would be for my 7 year old son who happens to have CHARGE Syndrome. CHARGE is one of the most complex medical and sensory conditions known, resulting in him having endured 19 major surgeries to date. Despite this, his zest for life and fighting spirit continue to propel him, to motivate him to rise to every challenge and measure of diversity that he is faced with. To feed my sons’ imaginations, we set out to create a beautiful vehicle in which we could see beyond his disabilities, employing his own basic karate moves into the choreography of the duels.
When scouting for locations, I was immediately drawn to the surreal backdrop of Joshua Tree National Park as understudy for the fictional planet of Tatooine. We’d driven the 3 hours from Los Angeles and I wanted my boys to experience the park and its natural wonders, pacing ourselves all day for what would be quick open air wardrobe change, direction and some intensely exciting and energetic shots. I also liked to think that the miscoloured lightsabers and Darth in flip flops added to the humor.
The images were captured on my Canon 5D Mark III, wide angle Tokina 16-28mm and Canon 85 1.2L lenses. My challenge in photography is not the technical mastering, because I believe in the power of continual fine tuning of muscle memory, making the exposure almost subconscious. But the real part to conquer is the composition, understanding the play of light whilst maximizing the potential of the monumental backdrop and how it impacts the image. That challenge continually pushes me to my creative limits. It was also a challenge of patiently balancing child participation on borrowed time with fading light.
The project was as much about seeing Star Wars through my children’s eyes as it was about refueling my own youthful nostalgia, overflowing as it is with memories of the original movie’s release and meaning. The Force of the movie itself does indeed continue to be strong, gravitational.
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