While most of the Northern Hemisphere has been bathed in the golden glow of autumn, Kilian Schönberger has been enchanted by a different scene. For the Cologne-based landscape and architecture photographer, it’s the perfect time to celebrate the beauty of broadleaf trees. The magical scenes he captured, which look straight out of myths and fairy tales, show us exactly why.
Schönberger is actually no stranger to dreamy, medieval-looking, and fairy tale-inspired imagery. Previously, we’ve seen him take us to locations that look very much like the fantasy world of Game of Thrones, and he even did a project he named after the famed Grimm Brothers.
However, instead of a mix of medieval castles and misty landscapes, this new series titled The Secret Beauty of Trees is a tribute to the enchanting atmosphere created by age-old broadleaf trees. These, he says, appear to be witnesses of ancient times as much as they have most likely inspired the fairy tales from centuries ago. As with his previous fairy tale landscape projects, he captured these forest scenes in Germany and surrounding Central Europe.
“But those are no primeval environments: The eccentric shapes of trunks and branches are a sign that in these forests cattle was tended to be fattened with acorns and beechnuts,” Schönberger noted. “Due to the century-long grazing the trunks and roots were damaged by the animals’ hooves and so the unusual growth occurred. In bygone times these kinds of forests were so common around the settlements in Europe that they have coined our imagination of old and primeval trees. Just think of old fairy tale book illustrations that feature those gnarly fellows very often.”
It’s impressive to see how Schönberger has been able to consistently stir the imagination with his fairy tale-inspired photography. Even with these forest scenes, it’s easy to imagine a story that typically begins with, “Once upon a time”, or a magical creature of some sort appearing where the golden rays peek through.