When light reflects off an irregular surface, some parts stay bright, and others sink into the shadows. Photography does not exist without light, and the relationship between light and shadow give depth and create an impression of three dimensions. For photographer Jenny Boot, a woman’s face is the most exquisite, irregular surface that allows for an unlimited play of light and shadow, leading to the creation of magical images. So surrealistic, exploring dreamlike worlds, futuristic concepts to come to the illusory nature of the medium itself. Jenny Boot is an artist who captures the game of light in a perfect way.
LSA: Jenny you have been a painter but became a photographer. Would you mind telling us how this started?
JB: I painted from a young age, but that was purely as an expression. It was only later in life that I learned to paint a little, which was mainly helped by looking at old master paintings a lot. When I had my son 18 years ago, I noticed that I couldn’t concentrate on that anymore. I didn’t have time to lose myself in it completely. That’s how I started shooting. When I started at the photo academy I knew I would make it there.
LSA: How come your art contains mainly women, What is your visual understanding, language? How do you transfer this to your work?
JB: First of all, I think women are very beautiful; I already had that as a young girl. Not in an erotic way, but more as an example I think, to identify with. Now that I only work with women, it’s also because I can identify with them best. They translate what I feel and what moves me much better than a man could. An artist’s work is always about itself, not about the model, the model translates for me what is going on in me. This often works unconsciously and intuitively. I don’t always know what I’m making, but it falls into place during the shoot. Sometimes I only see much later what the image is about.
LSA: Does your experience as a painter help you with your photography?
JB: Yes I think so, by painting I have learned to look very well and in my post-processing there is sometimes a kind of painting, but then with the light and dark.
LSA: I find your photographs very theatrical, surrealistic, provocatively seductive and influenced from Dutch masters such as Vermeer. Could you explain the thought process when it comes to visualizing your work?
JB: I actually think you’re describing me fairly accurately here, the influences come because I’m Dutch. Those images are like icons in my head. Sometimes it seems like everything I’ve ever saved; when I like it, comes back in my work. I am really a visual thinker and I often see the image in front of me that I want to make. I don’t work conceptually but completely intuitively.
LSA: Your portraits mostly have a very dark background with games of light. Can you talk about why and how you do this?
JB: Sometimes it seems like I can see more light than other people. I was often told that a work was too dark and they didn’t see it well, while I can still see a lot of detail in the dark parts. Of course, it could also be that my brain fills in those parts because I am the only one who knows the image completely because I made it. But what I like about it is that light is much more beautiful in the dark and that my work shows itself a little more each time the light falls on it differently, it is never “what you see is what you get,” it reveals itself for the good viewer. In this way, it retains its mystique. It sometimes seems to have some impressionism in it because of that. Not like Monet, for example, but more like Rembrandt is impressionistic. I think that’s why it doesn’t get boring quickly.
LSA: Do you choose to make your art for storytelling or for the aesthetic?
JB: Ah, if I do storytelling at all, it would be more poetry than stories. Each image contains a deeper layer of meaning, which I add to consciously, but even more unconsciously. But an image must always have beauty in it for me, otherwise it has no right to exist. So you might think that I am only concerned with the aesthetics, but that is not the case.
LSA: How do you describe your style?
JB: I would describe it as painterly but also dark, mysterious, and seductive.
LSA: We can find your photography in Vouge JFK magazine. Can you tell us your story with your fashion editorial work? Do you still do them?
JB: I graduated as a fashion photographer, I thought I wanted to but that turned out not to be my path. You can always find something fashionable in my work, but making editorials is telling superficial stories and I can’t do that. I still think it’s very beautiful though.
LSA: Do you have any future plans?
JB: Emigrating to a country where freedom and quality of life are more important than staying locked in and being secure.
Interview by Kamila Krzyzaniak