SDk: How long have you been taking photographs with the aim of becoming a serious photographer? We ask this because your personal style and technique are well refined, even though some commentators obviously think your genre is undefined.
Jenny Boot: Five years. Iím now in my third year of formal study.
SDk: You studied at the Fotoacademie first in Groningen and are now studying at that institutionís campus in Amsterdam. Can you tell us something about the Fotoacademie for readers who are unfamiliar with it. For example, what kind of reputation does it have? What is it like to study there?
JB: It is probably the best institution of higher education for photography in Holland. It has very high standards, the work load is intensive... and itís expensive. They guarantee their graduates will find work in photography within two years of their graduation Ė although obviously itís easier to break into certain fields of work than in others. Theyíre oriented towards photography publications and artistic photography, not standard commercial work like weddings, family portraits and the like.
SDk: You left your formal studies at the Fotoacademie for two years because,
as stated in your SDk profile, you wanted to ďcultivate [your] own styleĒ. What do you think you needed that the Fotoacademie wasnít providing?
JB: It can be very repetitive and not so creative, so I thought I needed to go out alone to develop my own style. But another, important reason why I had to take a break is the intense workload. The pressure of studying there means there is no time for anything else, your own work, nothing Ė it is absolutely full time. Only about half of the students who start at the Fotoacademie actually finish at all.
SDk: And why, specifically, did you return to the Fotoacademie? What are the skills you think you need to learn that only the academy can provide?
JB: When I left, I discovered I wasnít as good as I thought I was. I needed to learn more technique in formal training, and also to expand my conceptual thinking.
I have a lot of ideas, but I always work within certain technical and conceptual limits. I need to expand my limits to develop.
My teachers at the Fotoacademie, and other photographers, donít have much comment on the content of my work Ė they focus on the technical aspects of what Iím doing.
SDk: In your article for SDk you provide an insight into how you ventured into the genres of eroticism, fetishism and BDSM. Are you happy with your treatment of these themes? Have you anything more to say about your development in these genres and your fascination with them?
JB: Yes, I am happy with what I have done. I donít regret anything. Itís all a matter of making progress in my work. Pictures Iím not happy with I donít publish or show. Itís difficult to change those things; I donít try to re-make them, I move on to the next idea.
Iíve always been fascinated with power relations between people and with the differences between people in this context. [Established Dutch photographer] Reyer Boxem encouraged me to dig more into my unconscious, in a general sense, and this is the result. The Blue series was my ďbreakthroughĒ, so to speak: it was the first time my unconscious fantasies and feelings came to the surface and were depicted in my images.
I donít like clichťd or stereotypical BDSM imagery with whips, the usual bondage scenes, and the like. I like portraying the emotional side of BDSM, the dynamics of complex power relations and especially trust. I really like my Consolation series; itís a good
example of what I like to do in this genre. You need to be touched by this kind of imagery, and I like to touch people with it.
Itís a constantly developing field for me. Iím always exploring new ideas and I donít know what Iíll be doing in the future, although I can say my preferred imagery is erotic fashion, or making fashion imagery that is also in the erotic genre. But I do like dealing with taboos and breaking taboos with my photography.
SDk: We think your Blue series is remarkable. Can you tell us more