Thomas Dagg channels his childhood imagination for ethereal 'Star Wars' photographs

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Thomas Dagg channels his childhood imagination for ethereal 'Star Wars' photographs
Photo: Thomas Dagg
Photo: Thomas Dagg
Photo: Thomas Dagg
Photo: Thomas Dagg
Photo: Thomas Dagg
Photo: Thomas Dagg
Photo: Thomas Dagg
Photo: Thomas Dagg
Photo: Thomas Dagg
Photo: Thomas Dagg
Photo: Thomas Dagg


One Christmas, when photographer Thomas Dagg was growing up in Toronto, Canada, he told his parents he wanted a telescope.

"I was always into space and science related things," Dagg recalled to in a phone interview. "Instead, they got me the entire box set VHS of "Star Wars," and I watched it so much that I wore the tapes out."

Looking at his latest photography piece, simply titled "Star Wars," one can't help but think that perhaps the box set was a far worthier purchase.

The 18-image piece uses characters from the iconic "Star Wars" series created by filmmaker George Lucas and puts them in an urban or suburban modern context. The stills are cinematically inspired, grainy, and black and white. Glancing at them once, it's be easy to miss an Ewok glaring at the viewer through a chain-link fence, or Darth Vader casually taking a commuter bus home.

The 24-year-old photographer said he did his best to call upon the imagination he had as an 8-year-old for inspiration. He would wander the streets of Toronto and try to think like he had as a child. What if the Star Destroyer flew overhead right now? What if that man crossing the street was carrying Yoda on his back?

"Most people don't think anymore. Imagination gets stamped out [in adulthood]," Dagg said. "It brought back a way of thinking that was great for me."

Dagg's idea was birthed from a desire to pay tribute to the franchise, which kept him company when he was growing up as an only child.

But the "Star Wars" films weren't just about entertainment for Dagg. His parents used his love for "Star Wars" toys as a tool to teach him how to save. Fifteen years later he would set up those same toys with carefully calculated lighting and peer at them through the lens of a Canon DSLR before photoshopping the characters and spacecrafts into landscape photographs.

As an extraordinarily imaginative kid, the photographer said watching "Star Wars" stimulated his creative mind, but also made him curious as to how photography and filmmaking worked.

"It started out as a childhood homage. ["Star Wars"] got me interested in storytelling and direction and was such a big influence on my life and part of the reason why I do what I'm doing now," Dagg said.

Dagg studied photography during his time at Algonquin College in Ottawa before graduating in 2010. He began assisting photographers shortly after. The photographer then moved on to editorial work, before working his way up to doing more commercial work, including recently creating a series commissioned by BMW.

Though the idea for "Star Wars" was always brewing in the back of his mind, it wasn't until 2012 that he began to work actively on the project.

"It kept me sane between jobs," Dagg said of working on the piece. But despite his love for the films, Dagg said he's ready to let them go for the time being.

"I feel like I'm putting it away in a drawer. I did this series. I wanted it to be good, maybe when the new movies come out I'll pay tribute again," Dagg said.

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