There’s motion in the war photo’s stillness. Rubble appears to fly everywhere. Two soldiers are turning away from it in the out-of-focus smoky haze, while in the foreground another soldier takes cover behind a huge boulder; weapon out, possibly ready to charge forward and take advantage of the immediate chaos. It’s a photo that captures the terrifying instability and constant danger of an actual battle, only it’s not real.
The soldiers are portrayed by tiny Star Wars stormtrooper figurines.
Marine Matthew Callahan served in Operation: Enduring Freedom, and now he’s processing his experience with a new creative outlet. He recreates the actual experiences he accrued during the war as both a soldier and eventually a combat correspondent, using stormtrooper toys to make artful photographs. His series, entitled Galactic Warfighters, is an ultrarealistic depiction of hellish war carnage, given a sheen of irony with the addition of familiar fictional soldiers. Rather than coming across as cute or silly, though, the stormtroopers appearing in vivid, expertly lit, dust-filled recreations of battle scenes emphasize why it is that war footage shown on the news is typified as “like something out of a movie.” The brutality of combat has an inherent unreality.
Watch a behind the scenes video of Callahan making the photos below, and then look through some of the images in the slides above.