Artist Captures Couples Sleeping In Dynamic Long-Exposure Photographs

They're hauntingly beautiful.

There's no better way to fall asleep than in a warm, comfy bed with your loved one's arms wrapped around you, listening to their breath gush in and out of their lungs as they gently doze off into the world of dreams.

But what happens next?

That is exactly the question that German photographer Paul Maria Schneggenburger is willing to answer in his emotionally charged ongoing photo series, The Sleep of The Beloved.

Schneggenburger's project features more than 80 black-and-white photographs of volunteer couples sleeping under a long-exposure camera.

Each shot is lit only by candlelight and takes about six hours to make, from midnight until 6 a.m.

The series began in 2010 as a university graduation project, but due to its success has spanned into an ongoing thing.

Schneggenburger says he was interested in seeing if sleep is a solitary or shared experience between lovers.

"What happens to lovers while they are sleeping? Is it just laying next to each other or is it sharing of certain places and emotions?" he wonders.

Schneggenburger's long-exposure shots reveal the beauty of what he refers to as "nocturnal lovers' dance," the unaware tenderness we express towards each other in our sleep.

They show dynamic patterns of bodies intertwining and unraveling over the course of the night. Some more, some less ...

Schneggenburger's work, albeit very minimalistic, holds a certain poetry behind it, and speaks volumes about the intimacy of human relationships.

It almost makes you want to set up a camera in your bedroom and explore this unpredictable state of being.

Check out more of his images below:

The Sleep of the Beloved is an ongoing project executed in Paul Maria Schneggenburger's studio in Vienna, Austria. 

If you would like to participate, you can get in touch with the photographer on his website.