Stunning black and white long-exposure images capture the intimate moments of couples as they sleep. Dutch photographer Paul Schneggenburger is behind the project ‘The sleep of the beloved’ which sees volunteer couples and even families sleeping in a bed under a long-exposure camera .

Paul began the project in 2010 as part of his diploma at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and it has since morphed into an ongoing and ever-expanding endeavour.

Photographer Paul Schneggenburger is behind this series of long exposures of sleeping couples The interactions between couples are captured during a six hour exposure. The sweet images show lovers cuddling close to each other as they sleep.

He wanted to see the ‘nocturnal lovers dance’ and glimpse the unconscious interactions that happen in relationships. The intimate shots see couples arms flung over each other and hands clasping, while the long-exposure gives the photos a blurred and fluid look. The couples, who can volunteer to be a part of the project through Paul’s website, sleep for one night in Paul’s studio apartment in a bed with black sheets and duvet. 

Each picture of lovers is a single long-time exposure lit only by candlelight taken over six hours. So far around 80 couples, and even some families, have taken part. Paul sets up each exposure to run between midnight and 6am. As well as couples some families have taken part in the project, such as these parents with their young baby Some couples are entwined for most of the time while others interact far less Every couple who volunteers sleeps for one night in a bed in Paul’s studio apartment Paul sets up each exposure to run between midnight and 6am ‘At no point in the exposure am I in the room myself,’ Paul explains, ‘I just light the candles and set up the stage.’ One participant said of the experience: ‘I never sleep in black bed sheet and never without a top. ‘I’m not often photographed and if I am, then only with me controlling the situation. We are doing this for the art. ‘The loss of control and bareness is threatening, and feeling egotist in your sleep is threatening. ‘The camera is huge and I’m having HAL 9000 from 2001 Space Odyssey associations.’

Paul began the project in 2010 as part of his diploma at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna The fascinating pictures show an entire night in a single snap shot lit only by candlelight

'The sleep of the beloved': Stunning time-lapse photographs capture couples and families as they sleep