German 'queens' help bring allure to carp, hops, even sausage

Story highlights

  • Many German products and regions are represented by a local "queen"
  • Anna-Kristina Bauer photographed a dozen of them for her project "Twelve Queens"

(CNN)Anna-Kristina Bauer grew up in Germany's Bavaria region and was aware of the culture around carp. But the photographer never knew there was a "Queen of the Carp."

This local girl represents the fish and the culture of farming them there.
When Bauer took a closer look into the subject, she realized that a lot of traditional German crafts are represented by a local "queen," usually elected for a year to promote everything about their region or their product.
Photographer Anna-Kristina Bauer
There is the Queen of the Blossom, the Queen of the Lakeland, the Queen of the Horseradish, even the Queen of the Bavarian Veal Sausage. "I found it absurd at first," said Bauer, who photographed many of them for her project "Twelve Queens."
Her pictures are stark. The women are usually placed in rural surroundings, surrounded by wheat or cherry trees or a veritable forest of hops. Often they look away from the camera, and they are always alone with their subject, with what they seem to know best and where they seem most comfortable.
For example, the Queen of the Lakeland is floating serenely in water, ethereal and calm. The Queen of the Bavarian Veal Sausage rests on a bed of hay with sausages on top of her. "She grew up in a butchery," Bauer said. "She is totally behind the product."
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The Queen of the Blueberry was only 15 years old when she was crowned, having grown up on a blueberry farm.
"It was a beautiful encounter," Bauer said. And it was the first time that girl was photographed professionally as queen.
Bauer said a lot of the other women had media exposure already and "were smiling all the time."
"It has become fashionable to vote for queens," she said. "There is a queen for every product now."