All images by Kilian Schönberger. Used with permission.
Photographer Kilian Schönberger started the Brothers Grimm project with Brothers Grimm Homeland, and he most recently wrapped up his latest project called Brother’s Grimm’s Fabulous Germany. The project is a series of landscapes that look like they’re straight out of fairy tales. In fact, that’s what lots of Kilian’s work is–even the Crooked Forest.
Kilian talked to the site about the final phase of his project.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you first got into photography.
Kilian: During my time at school, drawing was more important to me than photography. I got my first digital camera (Ricoh Caplio RR30, actually awesome) back in 2003. When studying geography at university I bought a DSLR (Canon 400D) in 2006. There were a lot of motives because of all those field trips and tours in foreign countries. For a 6 months study stay I got the 5D MKII and during this time my photography became more ambitious.
Phoblographer: Brothers Grimm has been a photography project you’ve been working on for quite a while. What inspired you to want to start it in the first place?
Kilian: I was always looking for locations with fairytale atmosphere. The old stories fascinated me already during my childhood. Since there were often myths and legends related to the places I have captured photographically I started a whole series called “Brothers Grimm Project”.
Phoblographer: How did you go about finding the locations for these images and planning what types of photos you were going to capture for the series?
Kilian: Actually I’m always collecting possible locations when I stumble upon something interesting in the internet, a book or on a map. So I just had a look in my archives to find several hundred good spots that could fit for the book. I tried to capture scenes that still exude the atmosphere of old fairytale book. Since I was looking for special weather conditions most of the time, I had to start spontaneous when everything was perfect.
Phoblographer: You’re going out and capturing lots of the scenes, but why do you really only seem to do it when there is a lot of fog around? What’s the creative decision behind that?
Kilian: Haha. Well not only, but fog is one of my most important stylistic devices. Fog is to me like paper to a painter: It’s the white space where I arrange the picture elements. And I like the mysterious quality of fog moods.
Phoblographer: What locations were you personally most interested in shooting? Did any of them have weird or really cool history?
Kilian: Actually I prefer the rather remote small locations from which haven’t seen too many photos (often none) before. It’s more exciting than taking shots of well known hotspots. For the hotspots I tried some new perspectives that became quite popular afterwards. Since there always some legends or fairy tales linked to the places it’s normal that ruins, old trees or strange rocks are said to be devil’s work. And there are some really old castle, like “Burg Eltz”, which is inhabited by the same family for almost thousand years now. Or at the German-Czech border I made some winter shots of some rock towers and afterwards during spring when snow was melting they found the corpse of a man who died up there during winter and was covered by snow.
Phoblographer: So where are most of these photos taken? I’d assume Western Europe but does any one country look more like the fairy tales than others?
Kilian: At the beginning most of the photos were taken in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic. For the book I included just shots from Germany. There is not too much difference between nature and architecture in Central Europe since most of the countries had a common history before the 20th century. So you find villages with Slavic origin in Germany and villages with German origin in Czech Republic.
Phoblographer: You’re obviously turning this into a coffee table book, but are there any plans for a gallery exhibit of some sort?
Kilian: The coffee table book is out since november 2015. But I also have a exhibition with ~40 alu-dibond prints. There were already exhibitions in Czech Republic, France and of course Germany.