Lars Boering, the Managing Director of World Press Photo, talks to Canon about the foundation’s first ever World Press Photo Festival and shares his thoughts on the changing landscape of professional photography.
Q: This year’s Festival focused on photographers’ presentations rather than panel discussions with industry members. What was the reason behind this change?
“We opened up the Festival to a larger audience to be inclusive. It’s now more about celebrating and enjoying interesting and relevant stories, and building a bridge between photographers and the audience they serve. Panel debates are still an important element of the Festival but we feel they should be run in a way that really gets results and resolutions.”
Q: You have established and implemented some important changes since you joined World Press Photo. What are your plans for the next five years?
“I feel we need a conference or summit – that is really lacking in photography and photojournalism. Of course, people come together at different moments in the year but compared to other creative industries, there is no one event where we sit down with the relevant people to map things out and see if we can really find common ground. We have built the World Press Photo Foundation into a platform now – it is more than a contest.”
Q: Social media is becoming ever more prevalent as a currency of communication but do we need to be wary of it?
“This is where our younger audience is. As an example, I think there are around 550,000 followers of World Press Photo’s Instagram now and it is growing by 1000 people a day. It’s very exciting but I also see the negative [side], too. The ‘super platforms’ like Facebook give us a lot but they are now becoming a threat to our freedom because they can lopsidedly expose us to certain things.”
Q: We increasingly see more independent photojournalists working in the field with little in the way of support or funding. What feedback are you getting from these professionals?
“If you’re looking for people to give you money per photo – good luck! I don’t think it’s that easy anymore unless you are a big name. The publishing world is in a crisis and a state of transition. If you want to learn about success you need to study success.”