Speech by Lars Boering at the 2015 Awards Ceremony

© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte

© Bas de Meijer / Hollandse Hoogte

Your Royal Highnesses, your excellencies, dear guest,

Welcome to the 2015 World Press Photo Awards Ceremony! My name is Lars Boering and I am the new managing director of World Press Photo.

Just a few weeks after I took up this job, our organization presented the winners of the 2015 Photo Contest. Immediately, we found ourselves in the centre of a lively debate concerning the validity of one of our winning stories. The heated exchange of opinions cost me a quite a bit of sweat, but this I will say: I am grateful it took place.

And this is why:

We find ourselves confronted with formidable changes: unstoppable technological advances which are often innovative and sometimes disruptive. Changing ethics, as visual journalists shift away from so called “objective” journalism and move towards a more personal way of story telling. The ever changing media structures which make it more and more urgent for us to figure out how to develop a viable economic model that sustains quality photo journalism.

On an individual level, too, the visual journalist’s life is becoming increasingly complex: nowadays, besides shooting the image, a photographer is also expected to be a filmer, an editor, a writer, producer, graphic designer, encoder, publisher, entrepreneur. In the words of photographer Ed Kashi: I used to just have to be able to change the oil filter, now I have to build the entire car.

It is clear that we are part of a world that is changing faster and faster. And as much as we would like to keep rules and structures that have guided us in the past, our community of visual journalism must change if it wants to continue to be relevant not only today but also tomorrow. I firmly believe that open debate is the best way to navigate the future, and World Press Photo wants to be part of that debate.

When World Press Photo was founded in 1955 the idea was clear and simple: learn from others and share your work. 60 years onward that is still what World Press Photo is about:

  • a role to initiate and facilitate the open exchange of ideas and opinions - with the ?emphasis by the way on open, as the aim is to learn, not condemn. ?
  • ongoing support for visual journalists with their life long education, which is ?becoming increasingly important. ?
  • and a quest to find new ways for sharing the incredible body of work our community generates

For our community of visual journalism is a vital one: free flow of information was, is and always will be a way of building bridges in this world: of creating insight and understanding, of reporting what is good in our world and what is not, and of questioning both.

??Already, these Awards Days offered a series of interesting round table discussions with community members and industry leaders. More worldwide round tables will follow. Of course World Press Photo does not own the debate, but we do hope we can act as a catalyst, as a meeting place where we can discuss where we want to be heading, and then figure out how to get there.

We will make the world a better place because of visual journalism, and at the same time make it a better place for visual journalism.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am new to an old organization. Over the years many have contributed to making World Press Photo the leading, international organization it is today.

I would like to mention our very faithful partners: Canon, that has supported us for 23 (!) consecutive years, and the Dutch Postcode Lottery, whose generous commitment for the past 10 years has given us the opportunity to set up many valuable projects, the most recent being Reporting Change, training visual journalists in the Arab region.

I would like to mention former chairman of the board Pieter Broertjes, and also Michiel Munneke and Maarten Koets, who until recently have lead World Press Photo. Pieter and Michiel are here tonight, Maarten is not but well aware that I am mentioning him here, and we want to thank you for all you have done and given with a warm applause.

Our new chairman is Oswald Schwirtz, who joins the board together with former laureate Rob Hornstra. But let’s not forget Jenny Smets, Ebba Hoogenraad, Margot Scheltema and Kadir van Lohuizen. Members of the supervisory board. Together with the advisory board we will move the organization forward. I am looking forward to our future collaboration.

Finally, a big thank you to the World Press Photo staff, for their unwavering dedication to our cause. World Press Photo is an exceptional organization and I am honored to be part of it.

These are testing times, but they are interesting times, too. I am optimistic about photojournalism. Because our community is vibrant and resourceful and incredibly resilient. And there are so many people who have so much to give.

And that is a good cause to celebrate and it’s great to have you with us here in Amsterdam.

Posted April 26 2015

About World Press Photo

The World Press Photo Foundation is a major force in developing and promoting visual journalism. Through one of the most prestigious awards in photojournalism and multimedia storytelling, an exhibition seen by more than four million people worldwide each year, and extensive research and training programs, we strive to inspire, engage, educate, and support both visual journalists and their global audience with fresh insights and new perspectives.

Founded in 1955, the World Press Photo Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The foundation receives support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery and is sponsored worldwide by Canon. There are also a range of collaborations with the World Press Photo Associates, the Friends of World Press Photo, and other partners.