On June 11th, the World Press Photo Foundation made an important announcement. Lars Boering—Managing Director of the foundation for the past 5 years—is leaving the organization as they prepare to enter “a new phase for connecting the world to the stories that matter.”
The announcement was made in typical PR fashion, with no details given as to why Boering is leaving, and lots of hopeful rhetoric about the future of World Press Photo. In regards to Boering’s exit, the press release simply thanks him for his leadership for the past 5 years, and lists some of the growth that has happened at the foundation during his tenure.
Boering himself gives a statement, but doesn’t reveal much.
It was a tough decision to leave this beautiful organization, especially given the timing. It has been an amazing time and I am incredibly proud of the organization and the impact it has achieved.
In these interesting and challenging times the World Press Photo Foundation, and the work it does, is more relevant now than ever before. The admiration I have for visual storytellers has grown and I hope my efforts have contributed to improving their work and position. Personally, it is time for me to pursue other opportunities, but I am confident about the future path for the organization, and am sure a successor can be identified soon.
Regarding that “future path,” the organization seems keen to re-invent itself by adopting a a more resilient business model as well as establishing an “International Advisory Board” whose exact purpose is still unclear.
“A new phase for World Press Photo begins. A phase that builds on a strong foundation, and also leads to opportunities to future-proof the business model and ways of working,” says Guido van Nispen, Chairman of the Supervisory Board. “Press freedom, freedom of expression and the support of visual journalism are more important than ever, and as a leading organization that plays a crucial role for visual storytellers, the World Press Photo Foundation, with the great support of its people and partners, will keep on innovating to deliver on that promise.”
Of course, we’ll likely never know the deeper story behind Boering’s exit. As Inside Imaging recently points out, he was a vocal advocate for increased diversity in photojournalism, but also presided over several controversies ranging from a staggering number of disqualifications in 2016, to a potential defamation lawsuit.
Perhaps his leaving right now is a result of frustration that things haven’t progressed enough in the past 5 years; perhaps he, the foundation, or both felt that a “new phase” deserved a fresh face. Whatever the case, the organization has a lot of work to do.
Pandemic aside, the World Press Photo Foundation is facing a world that is growing increasingly antagonistic to photography and “the media,” where the ethics of photo editing are hotly debated, and where a lack of diversity feels increasingly problematic for both the WPP contest and the industry at large. Now, not only must the WPPF continue to try and lead the conversation on these issues, they’ll need to find a new Managing Director as well.
(via Inside Imaging)
Image credits: Photos by Guido van Nispen captured at the announcement of the 2018 WPP nominees, CC BY 2.0.