Matthew Callahan joined the US Marine Corps six years ago, where he now serves as a combat correspondent. Recently, he’s been working on a photography project called Galactic Warfighters, showing off the wars in Star Wars.
For the project, he’s been taking clone trooper action figures, and pairing them up with captions that describe what they’re doing from a military perspective.
Advanced Recon and Airborne Commandos fire a Mk 153 shoulder-fired multi-purpose assault weapon during joint weapons system familiarization training. The projectile explosive weapon is used to bust tanks and bunkers for light infantry. The troopers worked together as gunners and assistant gunners to get used to operating in the same environment together for future operations.
Callahan noted that his experience in the military has given the project some credibility to how he’s told these small stories: “The vignettes I write about these photographs reflect a myriad of experiences and hardships real men and women I’ve known in the service have encountered before, no matter how big or small.”
The project goes beyond just depicting warfare: it’s a look at how we approach objects like toys:
My toy photography project has been evolving for a few years now and has two artistic themes. It first acts as an ode to our personification of “things.” For many of us, we started anthropomorphizing with our toys as children. Star Wars has always been a huge influence in my life since my grandmother introduced me to it when I was 4 years old. This project brings these inanimate objects to life in a way, I believe, no one has ever seen before.
Secondly, with the specific characters I photograph being the rank-and-file ground troops of the Star Wars universe, the project takes them off their fictitious pedestals and grounds them in reality, telling their very human stories.
Furthermore, warfare is just one way that we create stories, and for something like Star Wars, he’s found that it’s a way to bridge his experiences with the fictional and the realistic:
Conflict generally has been one of the biggest informants in the way pop culture creates stories. Galactic Warfighters is a snapshot that tethers the real and fictitious worlds more closely to each other.
Here’s some fantastic images from the series: