Photographer David James on Capturing the Set of the Star Wars Movies

All photos by David James. Used with permission from Lucasfilm Ltd.

“…earlier in my career turned down the original Star Wars’ movie…” explains Motion Picture Stills Photographer David James. “George Lucas and I talked about that many years later, he actually admired me for making that decision.” David James–who was tasked to capture the behind the scenes happenings on both Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.  While being a movie stills photographer is a pretty difficult job, it becomes even more of a challenge when it happens to be on the sets of space operas that take place “in a galaxy far, far away,” where every minute detail is shrouded in secrecy until all is revealed on premiere day. Aside from over a half a century in the industry, David helped found the Society of Motion Picture Stills Photographers (SMPSP), serving as one of the organization’s past presidents, and was bestowed the Still Photographer Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Camera Operators in 2011. In time for Star Wars Day, we talked to David about his experiences working on the sets of both Star Wars sequels, how he entered the world of still photography, his experiences working on some of the most prominent Hollywood blockbusters, and what fuels his creative impulse.

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