Leigh Schneider

Artist’s statement

Our natural world might seem strange if it weren’t familiar. My work does not escape reality but demonstrates how it can be shaped beyond what we are accustomed to.

Paradoxically, I show the unseen through a visual medium. Ambiguous locations set the foundations of a world inhabited by subjects who are often more involved with their internal states than their surroundings. A clean, simple, aesthetic, overlays imagery that is underpinned by existential themes. There is more to life than what meets the eye and I like to reflect that in my art.

Each image begins life in written form, accompanied by rough sketches. Narratives are shaped using symbolism, hand-crafted elements, moody lighting and posing. Digital post-processing allow me to take the reality I capture photographically and extend it to the realm of magical realism.

While my images may appear dark at first, they hold light and hopeful messaging at their core. I use my work to ignite vision for transformation and growth – for a future beyond the shadows of current circumstances. I’m inspired by the idea of a world beyond what we immediately see, as well as human emotion and the capacity we all have for transformation and growth. I think of my work as filled with hope and ‘stealthily optimistic’.


Leigh Schneider is a Conceptual Fine Art Photographer. Born in 1986, she grew up in a small town in Waikato, New Zealand, and in the remote desert in the outback of Queensland, Australia.

Aged sixteen, she won a regional photography competition for analogue portraits. Leigh has a bachelor’s degree in computer graphic design, working in the field for ten years. A burglary in 2017 resulted in the loss of her work, so she invested in a camera, taught herself Fine Art Photography and fell in love with the process and possibilities of the digital medium.

Leigh worked commercially as a Fine Art Photographer and Art Director before moving into the fine art world.

Leigh’s work has been exhibited and published and has won prizes internationally. Her image ‘A Wing and a Prayer’ was a finalist in Beautiful Bizarre’s 2022 Annual Art Prize. ‘Pupae’ appeared in print, in Beautiful Bizarre Magazine. In early 2023, she held a solo exhibition ‘Beyond the Shadows,’ at Quirky Fox art gallery in New Zealand.

Leigh currently resides near Frankfurt, Germany, with her husband.

Overview of images

‘Beyond the Shadows,’ ignites vision for transformation and growth – for a future beyond the shadows of current circumstances. A selection of the artist’s works on loss, isolation and depression invites the viewer to look deeper into the symbolism of the images, which point at a way forward, offering comfort and acceptance. An ethereal space that allows us to dive into our memories and unconsciousness, processing the demons from the past.


The series Messengers is about being in a dark place and the ‘Messengers’ we carry with us—our personal patrons of the future. Always there, not always acknowledged.

The three images tell the full story. ‘Through the Black’ shows a character in the darkness, presented with a choice: Acknowledge her ‘Messenger’ and reach toward the light (‘Rouse’), or stay in it.

The moth represents this ‘Messenger.’ Creatures that seek light and undergo transformation, moths can represent that one thought (a loved one, an experience not yet had, etc) that brings us back to life.

Rouse. There are moments in our darkest places, when we remember what we live for and feel that pull back into life. It’s those moments and thoughts that save us—acting as ‘Messengers’—reminding us that we have a future, as hard as it may feel to reach toward.

 Through The Black. She stepped out of the world and into the black. She sat there, in the emptiness. Nothing remained, not even the wind had crossed over with her. There was just darknessand some of herself; not even her body really, just herwhatever that was. The void was most of her, as the nothingness took over her body, wherever that was. Not many of her thoughts remained, nor memories or plans. Time itself didn’t exist there, in the most nothing of places. And when she was the most absolute form of alone and little of her remained connected to the earth or anything in it, through the black, her ‘Messenger’ came…

Recluse. Even in the darkness, the ‘Messenger’ is ever present and waiting to be found.

Of the Light I & II

“You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” – Saint Paul

This diptych is a reminder of the light we carry; even in the darkest of times and places. The moths symbolise the pull of that light and the potential for transformation we all contain.

Helping Hand I & II

These ‘Helping Hands’ reach into the darkness. Moth ‘Messengers’ are drawn to the light and remind us of the transformation that is possible.


The bird of prey sits grounded, the clouds in her skin a reminder of the air—her freedom, her power, her home.

The hunter turned prey, gathers her strength again.

 Gone to Seed

When all seems lost, look closely, there are seeds of potential in plain sight…

Wildflowers don’t die. They turn to seed; containing all they need to start again. Such a reflection of us as humans – containing so much inbuilt potential; able to start over, even when it seems all is lost.

This is for anyone who feels lost. Maybe something has gone to seed like the wildflowers. Countless possibilities might spring up in a new season.


What is love?

‘Pupa,’ is the life stage of some insects undergoing transformation between immaturity and maturity.

We experience many transformations. Maybe we change so much in our lives, that we might change ourselves out of our relationships. But do we we give up too easily? What if we undergo transformations together – allowing for one another, making it not about ourselves as individuals, but about the best for the other?

That’s love. It may be painful and uncomfortable; we can emerge together intact.


Growth often occurs in darkness, but we see it in the light.

This character has newly undergone transformation. Baby wings have begun to spring from her back, as the plaster and bandages that helped her heal, fall away.

New strength and resolve; discover an unfamiliar world.



  • ‘Beyond the Shadows,’ Solo Exhibition, Taunus Foto Galerie, Bad Homburg, Germany
  • ‘Haunted,’ Group Exhibition. Curio Art Gallery – Almada, Portugal
  • ‘Beyond the Shadows,’ Solo Exhibition. Inktastic Art Gallery – Frankfurt, Germany
  • ‘Beyond the Shadows,’ Solo Exhibition. Quirky Fox Gallery – Hāwera, NZ


  • ‘Mini Mix & Match,’ Group Exhibition. Quirky Fox Gallery – Hāwera, NZ
  • ‘Deep Waters,’ Group Exhibition. Quirky Fox Gallery – Hāwera, NZ



  • Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize 2022 ‘A Wing and a Prayer.’ Photography, Finalist
  • Fine Art Photography Awards (8th Edition). ‘Messengers.’ Fine Art Professional, Nominee
  • Infinite Color Competition (2019). “Grace.” First Place



  • Shotkit (23/07/2023) “Inside my Camera Bag.”
  • Fstoppers (06/05/2023) “Understanding Fine Art Photography with Leigh Schneider.”
  • Beautiful Bizarre Magazine (11/02/2023) “Leigh Schneider’s Debut Solo Exhibition ‘Beyond The Shadows’
  • Cambridge News (09/03/2023) “Artist Raises Awareness.”
  • New Zealand Herald, (03/02/2023) “Artist and South Taranaki art gallery join forces to help Lifeline Aotearoa.”


  • Beautiful Bizarre Magazine (2022) “Interview, Stealthily Optimistic: The Photography of Leigh Schneider.”
  • Beautiful Bizarre Magazine (2022) “Join the Tribe.” (Issue 38),
  • Vogue Italia, Photovogue (2019-2022) “Grace,” “Out of Hiding,” “Parasite of Change.”