Behind the Scenes: Anima

Florian W. Müller

March 2, 2023

The German photographer speaks about his fascinating project that shows powerful portraits of animal species – some of which are extinct – and captures the dignity of living creatures in graceful timelessness.
“Like all the series that belong to the Neglect project, Anima, is a long-term project, too. When I was a child, I often went to the Natural History Museum with my parents, and I would imagine what it would be like to spend a night there. Over time, the idea of photographing there at night, and with just one light, grew in me.

I introduced myself at the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt and asked about doing this project. The reaction was swift and very positive. Then I asked at Leica and also got support from there very quickly. Already back then, my plan wasn't to only photograph in the museum, but also at other Senckenberg research institutions. Behind the name Senckenberg Nature Research Society lies a great network of research centres dealing with biodiversity. So I wanted to take different photos at the individual research facilities and Leica helped me with ideas and equipment for the Anima, Ikarus (birds at Ornithology in Dresden) and Samsa (insects at Entomology in Müncheberg) series.

I photographed at night in the dark, with just one light (continuous light with a honeycomb attachment), and the Leica SL on a tripod. At times I attached the light to the tripod, at times is was held by David, who assisted me. That was considerably more effective and easier! I chose a fairly open to medium aperture (between 3.5 and 8, depending on the specimen), because I didn't want an overall sharpness; I didn't want to take scientific pictures, but rather emotional ones. Because the animals are behind glass, at times in enormous display cases, the biggest challenge was to minimise any reflection of the light source. In fact, that went very well, because I never used frontal light anyway. In this case, the assisting hand was also worth its weight in gold... After good planning and a pre-selection, I needed between 10 and 20 minutes per specimen.

When the camera is set up and the light in place, I hit the trigger; then, when I see the final picture it's a very special moment. Separated from the whole spatial context and the other animals, the portraits of the animals can then be seen in what seems like a completely different way, often gentler, more alive than when you stand in person in front of the display case. Simply magical.”
Text: Florian W. Mueller
EQUIPMENT: Leica SL with Apo-Summicron-SL 90 f/2 Asph

LFI 2.2023+-

Find Florian W. Mueller’s elegant animal portraits in LFI Magazine 2.2023. More

Florian W. Müller+-

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© Florian W. Müller

The trademark of the internationally awarded and exhibited photographer is his experimental form of visual communication, which challenges the viewer to reflect on the content of the images. From 2020 to 2022 Florian W. Mueller was a member of the Federal Board of the Professional Association of Freelance Photographers and Filmmakers (BFF), and he is also a member of the Association of Photographers (AOP) in London. More


Behind the Scenes: Anima

Florian W. Müller