Celebrate the Rise of Skywalker with the best Star Wars pictures by photographers

Celebrate the Rise of Skywalker with the best Star Wars pictures by photographers
(Image credit: Ken Pearson)

At long last, the day we never thought would come (even though it's happening twice before) has arrived… Star Wars – Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker marks the end of the Skywalker saga (for the third time).

We've already seen all manner of photography that tie in to the cinematic mega event, from the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ Star Wars Special Edition camera phone to the Fujifilm instax Mini 9 Star Wars instant camera and film. And, of course, George Lucas' Panavision camera that shot the original Star Wars (Episode IV, for the heathens out there) was recently knocked off its perch as most expensive Star Wars item ever sold.

Still, the only thing better than having a camera with a Star Wars graphic on it is using a camera to take a Star Wars-themed photograph – and that's exactly what the four photographers featured on this page are all about.

Sgt Bananas' Chewbacca portrait is a fitting tribute to Peter Mayhew, who passed in 2019 (image: Sgt Bananas)

Sgt Bananas' Chewbacca portrait is a fitting tribute to Peter Mayhew, who passed in 2019 (image: Sgt Bananas)

These space opera shooters have turned their love (or, in one case, their clients' love) of George Lucas' science fiction saga into a unique form of creative expression. Whether they're photographing cosplayers, action figures, scale miniatures or even the most unique baby shoot this side of the Outer Rim, their photographs remind us of everything we love about Star Wars.

So before you shed a tear for The Rise of Skywalker – whether it's a tear because the journey is, perhaps for real this time, finally over, or a tear because of the mess Disney has made of what was once a golden goose – sit down and enjoy some of the most creative and cool Star Wars pictures in the galaxy!

Sgt Bananas

As Sgt Bananas, Johnny Wu carved a reputation for himself on Instagram as a toy fan who not only didn't care about taking his figures out of the packaging – he was quite happy to immerse them in water, cake them in sand or blast them with fireworks to get an amazing image in-camera.

“A lot of toy collectors… once they read that that’s not Photoshop and that those figures are actually getting water on them? And flour? And now they’re going to hear about the fireworks? They’re going to cringe," the Sony shooter told StarWars.com

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The sacrifices – even of highly prized Hot Toys figures that cost in excess of $200 – have been worth it, though. Today Wu not only has 83.6 thousand followers on Instagram, he is also a Lumecube ambassador and even has his own book, Ten Frames Per Second: An Articulated Adventure.

"As a lifelong toy fan and collector, I've always had wild ideas in my head about how toys can tells stories," he says of the book, "and it wasn't until I started taking photos of them that I realized my true passion in life."

Robert Lance Montgomery

Rey, Finn and Baby-8 flee the First Order Navy (image: RL Photo Art)

Rey, Finn and Baby-8 flee the First Order Navy (image: RL Photo Art)

There's a very high chance that you saw the incredible The Force Awakens cosplay shoot that a couple did with their baby a few years ago, as it exploded on social media like a good meme gone viral. 

The photographer behind that shoot was Robert Lance Montgomery, who not only created these incredible Star Wars-styled images but also went on to photograph the real-life couple's wedding.

"We went all the way to the desert planet of Jakku, which is located about an hour and a half South of Salt Lake City, Utah," recalled Montgomery. "Their cosplay is legit! Not only because they look the part in their hand-made costumes, but they've also got a real live BB-8 (baby-8)!"

Cosplay photography isn't typically a service that he offers but, given that he's the man behind perhaps the most famous cosplay shoot ever, we'd love to see him try his hand at another Star Wars scene.

Ken Pearson

The Millennium Falcon takes flight (Image: Ken Pearson)

The Millennium Falcon takes flight (Image: Ken Pearson) (Image credit: Ken Pearson)

A photographer who definitely offers cosplay among his services is Ken Pearson, a Nikon user based in Texas (the state that Peter Mayhew called home later in life) whose portfolio is rich with ornate shots of Stormtroopers, Sith lords and bounty hunters.

In addition, he's also a dab hand at shooting miniature vehicles to create set-pieces and battle scenes. His Facebook page hasn't been updated in a while, but there's a tantalizing shot of a finished Star Destroyer model complete with fibre-optic lights that we'd love to see featured in a shoot. 

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A commercial photographer by trade, Pearson has been a fixture at events like Dallas Comic Con – which no doubt helped him sharpen his skills at shooting painstakingly crafted cosplay scenes. 

As great as he is at cosplay, though, we hope to see him turn out some more Star Wars vehicle shots soon!

Hot Kenobi

If Sgt Bananas is the king of realistic Star Wars toy photography, Japanese shooter Hot Kenobi is the king of injecting toy images with heart, humor and personality. 

With 147 thousand followers on Instagram – including Robert Downey Jr, who occasionally shares his images on social media – Hot Kenobi is undoubtedly the most famous of the figure photographers. And for good reason, as his shots are as creative as they are hilarious. 

The Osaka-based photographer has gravitated more towards Disney's other mega franchise recently, as with most people who shoot toys, as Avengers: Endgame is rich with colorful characters to create his patented scenes. 

With Star Wars Episode XI: The Rise of Skywalker out this December, though, it's only a matter of time before the Japanese Jedi returns to his roots… 

Christmas gift guides:

• Photography lover gifts for Christmas: Quirky & unusual Christmas camera gifts
• The 47 best Christmas gifts for photographers
• The best stocking stuffers for photographers

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.