Vv Magazine’s Azra Hirji chats with Toronto-based photographer Thomas Dagg about his viral Star Wars series, his fame, and future!
In a city where everyone is an artiste of sorts, it’s hard to break out of that “up-and-coming” shell and truly make it in a realm filled with aspiring creatives. While many are looking to live the life of a visionaire-extraordinaire and experience the attached fame that comes with that name and territory, Toronto-based photographer Thomas Dagg is actually turning his intrinsically artistic and creative thoughts and dreams into reality — figuratively and literally.
On Star Wars
J.J. Abrams recently unveiled the first trailer of his upcoming Star Wars flick, Episode VII, and for most, that’s as close to the galaxy far, far away as they will get. Not for Thomas, who took matters into his own hands with his photo series titled star wars. This 17-image, black and white series places iconic characters and props from the fictitious galaxy of Naboo onto the streets of Toronto and into familiar and ordinary situations, creating surreal images that would make even the faintest of Star Wars fans drool. And boy, were they drooling. So much so that his series, which took Dagg two years to complete, went absolutely viral. But why would a photo series by a photographer who only has a few projects under his belt go absolutely ballistic on the internet?
“I hope that in the end, people shared it because they saw their own childhood imaginations and think back to how they played as a child. I also hope that they appreciated the subtleness,” says Dagg about his Star Wars project. With photos of Darth Vader taking the streetcar in Toronto as if the evil Sithlord actually commutes to work, or a kid running through the streets with Yoda on his shoulders, or a baseball player batting with a lightsaber instead of a traditional bat — there are definitely subtle nuances that take place in the collection that resonate with fans. “It was probably seeing all the Star Wars fans identifying with my own childhood…” responds Dagg when asked about his proudest moment in this photography career to date.
Though his Star Wars set did exceptionally well, Dagg’s other projects have proven that his genuine talent truly shines through every single photograph he creates and produces. Most notably, his thought-provoking series labelled almost death depicts and showcases people in the moments before their demise. “It was at a time that my grandpa (who’s now doing fine) wasn’t well,” Dagg states as the inspiration behind the photos in this series. He continues: “I tend to find my creative work hugely influenced by how I’m feeling — almost death was dealing with potential death. I don’t want to go too deep, since I find super-detailed artist statements rather boring, but I’d say in summary, moments before death are oddly beautiful.” And Dagg does an exceptional job at showcasing how beautiful those last, precious moments are — as morbid as that may sound.
On Shooting Celebrities
For Dagg, it’s not just about sci-fi photoshoots and portraying (disturbingly stunning) life moments in his art, he also has a fantastic portfolio of portraits (people one, people two). Most notably, Dagg has shot the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Toronto cyclist Grahame Rivers, musician Ryan Hemsworth, and rapper Ghostface Killah, member of the legendary rap group, Wu-Tang Clan.
“I’m a big fan of Wu-Tang and Ghost, so it was quite the perspective to see the legend just hanging out at my studio.” When pressed about more details from the shoot with Ghostface Killah, Dagg says, “I think January is when it’s released. The details about why we shot on film will be more apparent then too.” Perhaps, producing and directing rap music videos will be added to Dagg’s portfolio in 2015. To have any rapper ask to take their photo is one heck of an accomplishment, especially if it’s coming from a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, which means there certainly is something to be found in Dagg’s art.
What’s Next In The World Of Thomas Dagg
What does the future hold for Dagg? When someone has grown so much in any field in a short amount of time, is there really any growth left? Is there a point where artists peak and plateau? Dagg doesn’t think so, with claims he will hundred percent be doing the same thing as he is doing now in the many years to come. “It sounds a little cheesy, but I really love what I do. I hope that the jobs keep getting more complex and I’m able to bring even more production to my paid and personal work.” But, what’s the goal of a photographer? What makes it a career over a mere hobby? Doctors aim to save lives, lawyers aim to bring forth justice, and images created by a photographer — what do they aspire to achieve? “I hope [my images] show a difference in thinking and show how wide my interests spread. I think that’s the goal of any commercial artist — that, and to be sought out around the world specifically for [their] style.”
Dagg’s Words of Wisdom for Budding Photographers
Create, create, and create some more is Dagg’s motto in life — and a great way of thinking, indeed. “If you obsess about creating and can’t imagine doing anything else, it will show. It’s a hard industry to make a living in, but if you showcase your personality and separate yourself from the rest, it’s an awesome way to make a living,” advises Dagg. We absolutely agree.
One thing is for certain, Thomas Dagg is definitely one to watch out for.
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