Interview with IPFL-winner Jesper Boot

Jesper Boot is the winner of the International Photo Festival Leiden 2020. The festival takes place a year later than planned, but will be open to the public soon. We spoke to Jesper Boot about winning the festival and his new projects.

Last year the IFPL jury announced you as the winner out of approximately 100 submissions. What was it like to hear that you won the contest for recently graduated photographers?

“Of course I was very happy to hear that I had won. We were in the middle of the first lockdown and it was already certain that the festival was suspended for an unknown period of time. I could really use the good news!”

Where did you get the idea for the winning photo series ‘Power’? What did you want to tell your audience with the photographs?

I’ve had an interest in politics and media for quite some time. Especially the amount of unnoticed influence the media has on the way we view politics. When I started working on the series for my graduation in 2019, I took a long time to figure out how I could make this topic my own. A lot of art has been made about these themes already. By using my own family as a model I create an extra layer of recognition for the viewer. Every father or mother can, with a bit of an effort, look like a president. Thus, real politicians merely stand in front of a thin decor.”

How many photographs did you take for this series? Can you tell us how you came to the final selection?

The series consists of about 20 main images. Those are the most important images that I have created at home. Next to these 20 main images, there are many extra photographs. These are behind-the-scenes images and photographs of details and objects. When there is space, these images can support and strengthen the series.

Deciding upon the ‘most important’ images was sometimes quite difficult. I was looking for an image in which the glance of the model was just right and where the exposure was also correct. In a series of 200 photographs, sometimes only 5 images were ‘right’ and only one image ‘just right’.

Did you experience any funny situations during the creation of this series?

Creating this series with my family was really fun. My father normally never wears a suit, so that was something I witnessed for the first time. It was also fun to change the living room or kitchen unrecognizably for the photoset. By taking some A4’s from the copyshop and golden curtains from a second-hand store it suddenly looks like you’re in the Oval Office.

Sadly, the IPFL exhibition couldn’t take place because of Corona last year. We didn’t wait with the announcement but revealed you as the winner through press releases and social media last year. Did you notice a difference because of this? If yes, can you give examples?

When it was announced on social media that I was the winner, I received many congratulations. Most of them arrived through social media. I hope that when the festival finally takes place in September, many people can visit!

How are you doing now? What are you working on? Are you working on any photography projects?

Corona didn’t stop me in my photography practice. At the start of the year, I made a book from the ‘Power’-project, including previously undisplayed work. Furthermore, I am inspired by my environment on a daily basis. For 3 years, I have been photographing construction projects in my new neighbourhood in Amsterdam. It has become an extensive, ongoing project including photography and video. I also possess a growing archive of images from newspapers. With these, I create collages to provide new insights. Currently, both projects are large collections of material but I want to create more clarity in them soon. Clarity for myself, but also about what the projects can mean for an audience.