Rafael Neff
  • Introduction

  • CV

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After his visually profound series on baroque libraries, famous opera stages, precision mechanical clocks, and natural history volumes, Rafael Neff now lets our eyes drift across the famous wine cellars of the world. His photographic philosophy of the exquisite comes into its own in the warm maturation cellars of the world’s famous wine estates. The camera captures the ordered impression of these sealed barrels of luxury wine for more than just a fleeting moment. There is good reason why Chateau Margaux Premier Grand Cru Classe does not reach its optimum flavour and finesse until after more than ten years. The wine also takes on body during this time, as a renowned wine critic has explained. You don’t need to be a wine connoisseur to identify the care and attention given to the grapes of Lafite Rothschild in Neff’s photographs. The image is not just pleasing to the eyes on account of the symmetry and gentle light. The more the viewer’s attention is drawn to the depths of the image, the more imposing the vaults and the inexhaustible supply of wine appear. Not just anyone can get into these hallowed halls of vintage maturation, which seem to unfold and gain colour in front of our eyes.

Stephan Reisner


This rare series of colourful hummingbirds is a homage to perfection, to craftsmanship, and to precise observation. Raffael Neff discovered them while taking photos in large libraries and bibliophiles' collections. The original hand coloured copperplates come from a four-volume edition by the French ship's doctor and naturalist René Primevère Lesson, who sailed round the world from 1822 - 1825. They are birds from the Pacific and South America, which were then little known to Europeans.

Rafael Neff recognised the perfect beauty of the images, which were every bit as beautiful as the aerial artistry of the small birds themselves, and took pin sharp photographs of the plates. The hearts of these wonderful birds beat so breathtakingly fast that they can hover in place, fluttering in the air. It's not just ornithologists that find these pictures enchanting, so do connoisseurs and lovers of the printers art - a real rarity.

Stephan Reisner


Rafael Neff set out on travels through Germany, France, Italy, and Switzerland, and returned with photographs of cloisters and opera houses. For four years now, Rafael Neff has been photographing opera houses, theaters, and libraries around the world. Like children we get lost in the opulent scenography of warm colors and telltale statues from times long ago, spellbound by all the magnificence. With wondering and astonished eyes we remain fascinated by the opulent cornucopia of baroque ornament. Whether in the Benedictine abbey in Ottobeuren, the Canons Regular of St. Augustine in Neustift, the Premonstratensian cloister in Bad Schussenried, the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples splendidly rebuilt after a devastating fire, the Gran Teatro La Fenice in Venice, the Opéra Garnier in Paris, the Bayerisches Staatstheater in Munich, or the Opera House in Zurich: the light-filled opera houses tell us of all of the dramas played out on their stages. We can almost hear the arias from the libretti of the lives sung within these walls. Such spaces are a joy for every aesthetic eye and free spirit, because they go far beyond the individual in that they have existed long before us and will present aesthetic pleasure with their opulence long after our time.


The nearly unpopulated beach stage is animated with the choreography of colored swabs, the light is perfectly arranged, the protagonists have their performance. As a matter of fact, there are only beach chairs, but they have their own individuality in the photographs of Rafael Neff. Simultaneously, they contain themselves, taking nearly nothing from their surroundings and appear to be presenting the brightly colored, striped fabric with which they are budding, their shadows playing on the rough surface of the sand. Before the first vacationers come and profanely misuse them as sun protection, they stage for themselves and any other chance passersby, a Capriccio of light and color, fragmented and flirtatiously abstract as if trying to have a dialogue with the cloudless blue of the sky, which the photographer acknowledges with an even expanse. Rafael Neff’s photographs are impressive in the best sense. He draws nearer to his objects in various ways and animates his impressions through the contrast of the focused and unfocused, proximity and distance, surfaces and depths. The pictures seem like bleached out memories of celebrations from a long ago childhood filled with sea noises, and summer guests. The personal is has long ago been removed, leaving only the furnishings, old-fashioned, wonderful and timeless.

Dr. Boris von Brauchitsch


Rafael Neff grants us a rarely seen view inside some of the finest chronographic watches – unveiling incredibledetails. With the ornamental density and the subtle colors, the perfectly formed and worked metals reveal beauty in functionality. The close-ups of modern clockwork, produced in the century-old tradition, are a special kind of testament.
1969born in Freienseen, Germany
1995-1996work for an advertising agency
first photography work
publically supported photography grant
1996 -2001 major in photography
travels to Prag and New York
student of Kevin Clarke - New York
2001Master of Photography, FH Mainz
Premiered work for the "Emotional Garden"
Neff begins to work on the "Beach Chairs"
2002Calendar production for Zander's Fine Paper AG
Photo production for Salamander AG
"Beach Chairs" project in New York
2003Photo production for Heidelberg’s Zement AG
Photo production for Liebherr and for BASF AG
“Beach Chairs” project along the entire North Sea coast
2004Photo production in Cuba for BBS AG
Premiered prizewinning book production for Pioneer Electronik Germany
“Beach Chairs” project along the entire Baltic coast
Founded neff fotodesign
2005Winner of the Design Prize from Rhineland-Palatinate
Premiered prizewinning calendar production for Audi’s “25 Years of Quattro”
Photo production in China for BBS AG
Premiered prizewinning calendar production for Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG
“Beach Chairs” project from the Polish coast to Courland Spit
Book production for neff fotodesign
2006Photography contract with John Deere
Photo production in Italy for BBS AG
Artistic work for Franz Schneider Brakel GmbH
“Beach Chairs” project on the Italian coast and on Denmark’s islands
lives and works in Frankfurt

Awards (Selection)

2009Nominee, Designpreis der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (German Design Prize) 2010
2008Winner of the Red Dot Design Award
Winner of the Kodak Photo Award
Winner of the “Gregor” - Jury’s Honorable Mention
Winner of the international calendar competition in Stuttgart (Gold) for ebdruck Haus
2007Winner of the international calendar competition in Stuttgart (Gold) with Franz Schneider Brakel
2005Winner of the Design Prize from Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Collections (Selection)

DZ-Bank, Frankfurt, Germany
Berenberg Bank, Berenberg, Germany

Sparkassenverband Rheinlandpfalz, Germany

LBBW, Stuttgart, Germany

Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt, Germany

Solo Exhibitions (Selection)

2013LUMAS, Salzburg, Austria
Villa Merton (Union international Club), Frankfurt, Germany
2012LUMAS, Dusseldorf, Germany
LUMAS, Hamburg, Germany
LUMAS, Berlin, Germany
2011LUMAS, Vienna, Austria

Group Exhibitions (Selection)

2013LUMAS, Heidelberg, Germany

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