The head of the World Press Photo Foundation has stepped down after five years in the role. Dutchman Lars Boering joined the foundation in 2015 but left without much explanation from either him or the WPP. In an official statement, Boering said ‘It was a tough decision to leave this beautiful organization, especially given the timing’ but doesn’t go on to give his reasons other than to say ‘it is time for me to pursue other opportunities’.

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The organization only says ‘Today, the World Press Photo Foundation announces that Managing Director Lars Boering will be leaving the organization’ and goes on to say it is ‘appreciative of Lars’ leadership over the past five years. In this time, major talent programs and grants were developed, digital reach saw substantial growth, and a new format was established to announce contest nominees and winners, to further spotlight the stories that matter.’

Since the announcement, DPReview has spoken with Boering, independently, who said he left the foundation because so much of what he had planned for the future has changed since the coronavirus pandemic:

‘Some of the programs and some of the activities are on hold or will never come back in the same way. I believe we will not see many festivals or events return in the near future, and its doubtful whether many of our ideas will get funding to make them happen. COVID has changed everything and so I have brought my departure forward. My strength is in growth and re-imagining things. It is very clear to me and the Supervisory board that World Press Photo foundation will be better off with a Director that can steer it through, in a calm and steady way, the challenging landscape that Covid19 has unveiled.’

The organization says it is heading towards a ‘new phase’ that will help it to ‘future-proof the business model and ways of working’ as it explores ‘new digital avenues and establishing a new International Advisory Board’.

Boering adds a slightly clearer dimension to the part of the statement that mentions future-proofing the foundation, saying:

‘Over the next two years World Press Photo will be working carefully and steady to keep going, and we now know 2020 and 2021 will be okay for the foundation. I never intended to stay much longer than 7 or so years, and with the changing times now is the right moment to hand it over. WPP now reaches an audience of 300 million when we announce the winners and our reach on social media is growing ever faster. The challenge now is to monetize this value in the right way, in a way that is fits with the values of WPP and visual journalism. That has a great future and will be a wonderful challenge for my successor.’

Boerings departure leaves the foundation looking for a new head while an interim business director, Arnoud van Dommele, steps in for the time being. The organization will also establish an international advisory board by the end of this year, which will ‘provide strategic advice to the Supervisory Board and Executive Board of WPPF.’

Boering tells DPReview that he’s enjoyed his time at WPP and is proud of what he has achieved in his five and a half years:

‘I have steered the foundation toward becoming an organization devoted to progressive values and ethics, and one with a set of advocacy agendas. Programs like the African Photojournalism Database, the 6×6 talent program and various global workshops, are initiatives by WPP to provide more opportunities to photographers of different backgrounds. I’m taking some time off for a small sabbatical and will choose my new path carefully. Many offers and initiatives are already coming my way, and to continue my work in the creative industries will be a pleasure.’

‘The future of visual storytelling is very bright and more money is available than ever before,’ he promises.

You can read more about Lars Boering in an article on Australia’s Inside Imaging, and the statement on the matter on the World Press Photo website.

Press release:

The World Press Photo Foundation enters new phase

The World Press Photo Foundation enters new phase for connecting the world to the stories that matter

Managing Director Lars Boering leaves the organization after 5 years; establishment of an International Advisory Board announced

Today, the World Press Photo Foundation announces that Managing Director Lars Boering will be leaving the organization. As a result, the Supervisory Board will start the search for a new Executive Director. This coincides with the preparations of a broader approach for “connecting the world to the stories that matter” required for the changed world that has presented itself in recent months.

Guido van Nispen, Chairman of the Supervisory Board: “We see the pandemic having an immense impact on everyone and everything. The collateral damage is huge, and the World Press Photo Foundation has also been impacted, which depends partially on a model that organizes physical exhibitions all over the world.

The organization is appreciative of Lars’ leadership over the past five years. In this time, major talent programs and grants were developed, digital reach saw substantial growth, and a new format was established to announce contest nominees and winners, to further spotlight the stories that matter.

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. This includes exploring new digital avenues and establishing a new International Advisory 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.”

Lars Boering, Managing Director: “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.”

Lars Boering will hand over his work to Arnoud van Dommele, who has served as interim business director since March, while the Supervisory Board starts the search for a new Executive Director.

The International Advisory Board will consist of approximately 12 global experts and will be established before the end of 2020. The International Advisory Board will provide strategic advice to the Supervisory Board and Executive Board of WPPF.

About the World Press Photo Foundation

Connecting the world to the stories that matter.

We are a global platform connecting professionals and audiences through trustworthy visual journalism and storytelling, founded in 1955 when a group of Dutch photographers organized a contest (“World Press Photo”) to expose their work to an international audience. Since then, the contest has grown into the world’s most prestigious photography competition, and through our successful worldwide exhibition program, we present to millions of people the stories that matter.

World Press Photo Foundation is a creative, independent, nonprofit organization, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. We appreciate the support of our global partner, the Dutch Postcode Lottery, and our partners, PwC and Aegon.