21 Jun Father And Son Bonding With Star Wars
Today, on Father’s Day, I get to share a very fun, very fitting set of photos – a Father and Sons’ Star Wars themed shoot, complete with both Jedi and Sith characters. A shoot that was destined to happen the moment Alice and I moved into our new house.
Alice and I moved into our new place in February. Shortly after, we met our next door neighbors, Brian and Sarah. Being our first home and expecting to be here for the long haul, you wish for awesome neighbors, at a minimum, you hope for tolerable. Luckily, it turns out to be the former with Brian and Sarah. They are right within our same window of age so common interests, sense of humor, etc. are all pretty well matched, and they are a fun couple – a couple with two little munchkins. My first 30-second observation of their two boys perfectly (and humorously) summed up their personalities. Luke, a quiet, well-behaved 7-year old was playing within the boundaries set forth by mom out in the cul de sac. Jackson, aka “Full-Time” (that’s foreshadowing), Luke’s 3-year old antithesis brother, was doing anything and everything in his power to push every single rule established by Sarah. Of course, the chaos that is Jackson is always accompanied with a maniacal, yet carefree laughter. If life was a game of Simon Says, Jackson would lose the first round of every game, every time (but with so much pride and joy). From the outside observer’s perspective (not the parent), this is extremely entertaining, especially when you take into account Jackson’s rarely understandable babbling as he is causing this trouble. Now that I really think about it, Jackson is truly the closest thing to a human version of the Tasmanian Devil. But then Jackson will melt your heart the next moment, saying, “Hi Matt” (again, hardly understandable) and climbs right in your lap because he likes to snuggle (and then proceeds to draw and send pictures on my Apple Watch to Alice, the unfortunate victim to the now a hundred random finger doodles via Jackson’s Tasmanian finger). So, regardless a fun family any way you slice it.
A month or so ago, Brian and I got to talking about Star Wars and then ultimately talking about how even his kids are into the movie genre thanks to Legos for making a Star Wars game. By the way, I love the fact that we live in a time where common interests between parents and kids are now in the digital age. So many ways for bonds to form and fun times to be had between generations. Brian described a time when he and Luke were playing the game together and an unexpected, yet awesome moment occurred. Yes, Brian actually got to use the phrase, “use the force, Luke!” as they were in the heat of digital gaming battle. That evening I came up with the idea for this shoot. The next day I walked over to their house and pitched the idea – a father and his sons playing around the house as Star Wars characters. A humorous mix of reality and fantasy, we’d have them in really legit looking outfits and props, however they would be captured in their home environment. Yes, even Brian being a badass sith posed next to his beloved BBQ he uses on the regular. Luke was a home-run (honestly the inspiration for this shoot), he already has the perfect name, he’s our leading Jedi hero to fight our evil sith dad. The only question was what we do with little Jackson. Then it became clear – little, unstructured speech, he’s Yoda!
I very much wanted to tell that story of the family at home and inside that environment, but to have this fantasy playing out like what the father and sons are imagining. We’ve all grabbed that cardboard tube, made lightsaber sounds and smacked our siblings while pretending to fight off Darth Vader. I wanted to breathe some life into it, make it real (at least for some photos). For us all to be kids again and spend the day in their world. And that, to me, is where the real source of inspiration for a series like this lives.
People usually book my photography services for those big moments in life – the weddings, the senior photos, the newborn/1-year photos, sexy photos for their new husband/wife, and of course the more traditional family photo of everyone looking at the camera and smiling (we shoot just about everything under the sun and I love it!). I get great joy and am honored that all of my amazing clients ask me to capture all of these great moments for them, but I do have to secretly admit that these “just for fun” shoots are my fav. There is a special connection in every kind of photo shoot I conduct, but these… to me they are one-of-a-kind experiences. We make unforgettable images, the concepts forged 100% around the clients and they are boundary-less. And I don’t know who has a better time on these shoots, the parents or the kids. Clients start the shoot knowing the goal of the day is to make really cool photos, but by the end of it, sometimes it’s more about the day of making the photos than the end product itself. The kids will forever remember the day their parents got into character, got silly, laughed together, and spent the day imagining a world they already do share in real life every day in their minds. Imagination this day was real, and that is super cool. Oh, and parents, the kids really do love these shoots. The kids will play and take photos for hours! When we take all the time with outfits, makeup, locations, and lighting, even the kids know this is a great opportunity (and feel like rock stars).
Alice did all of the makeup for the shoot, per usual. I gave her a rough idea for Brian’s sith design and let her run with her own version of it, and I think it came out pretty cool. The colored contacts are what really brought Brian’s look together. Luke got a penciled beard and looked quite dapper if you ask me. And then there is our little Yoda, oh boy.
We shot a couple different spots around the house. Being a guy born inside the Star Wars era, they instinctively imagine anything longer than a pencil as a lightsaber, and a BBQ spatula is the perfect pretend saber size. Combine with the red lighting we added to the sith shot, the inherent sense of heat is also provided for the BBQ. The little ones were staged in and around their swing set, where they have no doubtedly played out many imaginary hero adventures. The other main look we set up was inside the house with some fog and some strong gelled lights.
And there you have it, a fun day of playing with lightsabers and embracing a joint love of all things Star Wars between a father and his sons. And now, Brian and his kids will never have to say, “remember that one time we dressed up like Jedi?” because they’ll have these photos to look back on.
Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there, jedi or sith.
Here are some BTS shots: