Felix Schöppner’s still life images are the result of meticulous arrangement
The photographer is currently working out of his home studio, where he spends his time experimenting with materials, lighting and positioning.
- Ayla Angelos
- 14 April 2021
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
Growing up in Zwingenberg, a small town near Frankfurt, Felix Schöppner spent his childhood in a “carefree” atmosphere. The son of two architects who have their own interior design studio, he’d often take trips to museums at the weekend. “My access to art and culture was very important to them,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Besides professions such as a cook, truck driver and many others, architect was once my career aspiration.” However, after some discussions with his parents, he says it quickly became clear “that I wanted to go into photography”.
During this time, a friend of his was gifted a DSLR camera from his grandfather – a Pentax with fisheye lens to boot. Admiring the ways in which his friend would document them skating, it wasn’t long until Felix got his own, a Nikon D40. “Then things happened very quickly,” he says. “First I graduated from school, then I did my community service and in 2010 I started studying communication design with a focus on photography at the University of Applied Science Darmstadt.”
A short while down the line, and a few wedding photography jobs later, he landed his first role as a studio assistant at Studio Marc Wuchner in Frankfurt, “a very meticulous still-life photographer,” he says, who taught Felix plenty about lighting techniques and building sets. This is where his adoration for technical precision and artful still-life compositions began and, after two years assisting Wuchner, he decided to venture into the freelance world alone. “However, the year ended with a shock when I was diagnosed with cancer,” he says. “I recovered very quickly after a short but tough course of chemotherapy. The diagnosis and the time afterwards nevertheless left traces that only became apparent later. Since then, I think differently about life and more differentiated about issues that influence it. I stopped smoking very quickly, from one to two packs a day to zero overnight.”
As a result, he continues, “my way of photographing also changed.” Before, he worked predominantly with a documentary photography language, barely using artificial light and only searching for the pure image. “It was a very classical kind of documentary photography, which my professor Kris Scholz said I was 30 years too late for. After my recovery, I started to focus on still life, despite – after my time as an assistant – never wanting to work on still life again just a few years ago.”
Now working out of his home studio, Felix tends to wake up late and work deep into the night. While he’s been confined to his studio due to Covid-19, he’s never short of inspiration. For one, he’s a book and magazine fanatic, storing his printed purchases in shrink wrap only to keep track of which are still unread and which aren’t. “The beauty of this is that I have unexpectedly found books on the shelves that I didn’t even know I had bought or had forgotten about,” he says. Otherwise, his influences tend to sprout from photography, as well as architecture, sculpture and installation. Not to mention a profound interest in mechanical engineering, natural sciences and history.
Once you understand these influences, Felix’s clean-cut, almost dystopian aesthetic begins to make a little more sense. “My interest in photography is focused on conceptual works and less on the emotional aspects, showing the subjective perception of a photographer,” he says. “In most cases, I lack the emotional sensitivity for that. I’m currently interested in the multi-layered examination of photography and in connections with other representational techniques. But I also find the question of materiality, how it is used and thus becomes stylistic, quite exciting.”
Felix’s most recent series, Cognition, is a fine example of his devotion to material experimentation. Inspired by the radio and listening to news stations in his car, the project – like all of his work – started off with a sketching phase. After which, Felix heads out shopping to gather his props, preferably to DIY shops or those stocking household goods and craft materials. Then he’ll shoot, which usually takes several days, before toying with the images in postproduction and using focus stacking – a technique used to move the focus shot by shot over the image, making it feel more artificial.
“The picture Solar System, the one with the billiard balls, drove me crazy,” he says. “I had a concrete idea of how it should be constructed, but the balls didn’t want to stick to each other at first.” It took him three days to feel satisfied with the result, and others can take up to a week or even months to reach completion. But thanks to this meticulous approach, Felix is able to create photography that’s at once structured and spellbindingly surreal.
GalleryFelix Schöppner: Cognition (Copyright © Felix Schöppner, 2021)
Felix Schöppner: Cognition, Black Hole (Copyright © Felix Schöppner, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.