Cuddling for the camera

A photographer explores the sleeping patterns of couples


Blanket thievery — it’s one of the biggest pains of sleeping with a significant other, after snoring, morning breath and ice-cold feet.

Blanket stealing is a common occurrence, though almost everyone denies doing it. Your partner may firmly deny taking your covers, but the fact remains when you wake up buck-naked and shivering, he’s often wrapped up in what seems to be an absolute fortress made of every piece of linen in your house.

However, it’s not entirely his fault.

Tossing and turning occurs naturally in sleep and can be caused by slight disturbances such as noise or change in room temperature.

Austrian photographer Paul Schneggenburger explores sleeping patterns and blanket snatching in his ongoing series The Sleep of the Beloved, a collection that uses long exposure images to showcase the sleeping patterns of couples who share beds.

“I’ve been taking pictures of sleeping people for a long time, maybe because I have sleeping problems sometimes. It’s just a fascinating topic — I think it’s very mystical,” Schneggenburger says. “I asked myself the question, how do beloved people behave in their sleep during the whole night?”

When creating the series, Schneggenburger found himself wondering if sleeping couples share an unconscious bond.

“What happens to lovers while they are sleeping? Is it sleeping just next to each other, each on [their] own, or is there a sharing of certain places or emotions?” he asks on his website.

“Each picture of the Sleep of the Beloved is one long-time exposure. The exposing time is six hours, from midnight until 6am. The room with the bed is in my studio apartment. I am at no time of the exposure inside the room myself. I just light the candles, set up the stage,” he says.

Schneggenburger began the series three years ago while he was attending the University of Applied Arts Vienna. He’s been doing it ever since.

To date, he’s photographed more than 80 couples in their sleep.

Of that, he has photographed four gay couples and one lesbian couple, which can be seen in the photo gallery above.

Schneggenburger says his project is still ongoing and asks those interested in being photographed to contact him.

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