Leon Schröder Fotostudio

The still life of my life

A portrait without the person

Still life has its origins in painting, of course, but it has also been a popular theme in photography for many years. The quality of composition and control of light are also essential in still life photography. Depending on the purpose of the work, it can be interwoven with symbolism or it can be more of a ‘what you see is what you get’ image with visually interesting objects.
For this work, I chose a traditional still life. Thereby, more than 3 (inanimate) objects are arranged very precisely with the aim of communicating a certain feeling and message; in this case, telling something about myself.
I think that a ‘still life of my life’ is a beautiful and original alternative to the standard portrait of a loved one.


I’ve been doing odd jobs around the house all my life. I used to watch my father do D.I.Y. jobs and learn all about woodworking, electricity, water pipes, tools and so on. Car repairs is actually the only thing he didn’t do. It’s not just that you usually get out faster and above all cheaper, but I also often find that the result is better. At least it feels better… My family knows me, especially on weekends, with these shoes, paint pants, and the plaid handyman shirt.

Stilleven van mijn leven ©Leon Schroder

Thistle The purple thistle is Scotland’s national icon. Since my wife is Scottish, I wanted to include the thistle prominently in the image.
It is not very practical to use plants in a still life because of course they lose their resilience quite quickly. So I left them in water for a long time and added them to the composition last.

Pinball machine When I was young, we had a room full of pinball machines and a jukebox. As a hobby, my father repaired old arcade machines and then sold them again after a while. So we played a lot of pinball at home and for me pinballs are a direct link to that time.
I chose 3 balls because I symbolize 1 of my children with each ball.

Beer You might think ‘that goes without saying’ and in a way it is. I like to drink a beer. The glass I chose is a typical beer glass and I was once given it when we played a rugby tournament in Brussels and won. They were tough matches and a good friend who was part of my team at the time passed away young.
The glass is always half empty, which also suits me.

Candle The burning candle symbolizes the passage of time and the belief in a higher power than man. I deliberately made the candle out of two parts (the top part melted on the short bottom part) to give it my ‘second life’. In 2017 my heart was temporarily stopped for a bypass operation.

Bar stool When I just rented this studio, a colleague from the university of applied sciences asked me if I wanted to make his portrait. He had been told by the doctor that he would only have a short time to live and wanted to leave a beautiful portrait. My studio was far from furnished at the time, but between the junk and boxes I built a set and took his picture. I bought this stool especially for those photos so that it would be at the right height and the stool itself would not attract too much attention in the image.

Photography I show the link with photography with the two ‘grids’ and the curtain. I’ve used both a lot in photos. I always see with other photographers that they are in the picture with a big camera in their hands and for some reason it feels weird, like the size is a measure of quality or that the viewer doesn’t know what a photographer is.

The project ‘Naked Rotterdam’ has become an important part of my life for several reasons. First of all, for me it symbolizes the switch in my career to photography. It was my Master’s project. Verder doet het er toe omdat ik gedurende het project veel bijzondere mensen heb leren kennen die mij vertrouwden met hun veelal emotionele verhalen en natuurlijk hun naakte zelf.

Background The black background with spots with color is me. It also depicts the chaos in my head. That’s just the way I am.