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The Roommates
of the World Deserve
Witnesses

Jasper Doest

Good photography makes you stop and leaves you in awe.

I was born and raised in the Netherlands, and I’ve been playing with cameras for as long as I can remember. My parents raised me to have a lot of respect for the natural world, so when I picked up photography again in my early twenties, photographing natural history came naturally to me. I decided to study ecology, to learn more about the complex dynamics within the ecosystem and learn about the things that I was photographing. My studies introduced me to the Arctic where, for the first time, I was able to witness the effects of climate change with my own two eyes. I decided that I wanted to use my photography to capture the beauty and fragility of our planet.

The Roommates of the World Deserve Witnesses

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This picture was taken on the island of Curaçao, where I travelled with my family, to visit my cousin (my cousin is in the middle and my two daughters are left and right). The pink bird is a flamingo named Bob. I had been working on a story about Flamingo Bob – a flamingo that was rescued by my cousin Odette, who works as a veterinarian on the island. During Bob’s rehabilitation, Odette found out that he had previously been habituated to humans and therefore could not be reintroduced back into the wild. She decided to take him in and make him an ambassador for her charity. I have learnt not to plan too much. Working in my spontaneous way, I see things that go beyond my wildest dreams. I try to go beyond my imagination, and it often doesn’t work – but when it does, it is magical. That is the case here! ‘MEET BOB’ has been published as a story in National Geographic magazine and was published in 2021 as a book to raise funds for conservation education on the island of Curaçao.

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Jasper Doest photographer
Leave your prejudices at home and be ready to be surprised by the unknown.
Jasper Doest
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Since my work has shifted from natural history photography towards a focus on our relationship with the natural world, my imagery often shows humans and animals in a rather surprising context. It is that context that is really important to me, as it helps people to ask themselves questions about what’s going on. A large part of my work is doing my homework; researching stories, learning about issues, finding the pieces of the puzzle that I need to solve, in order to do the story justice. It’s important to become an expert in the matter you are documenting, so that you can make the necessary visual connections. But at the same time, it’s important not to overthink things when you’re in the field, and one should always go in with an open mind to expect the unexpected.

Photography is an extension of my personal voice.

Leica cameras create a unique connection with people. They either think it’s an old camera, as it reminds them of the camera their grandparents used to have, or they recognise it’s a Leica and start to smile and show interest. In that way, the camera really does open doors, and often leads to access to the story I want to tell. I work with a Leica M. I feel the Leica M series allows me to gain access in a different way. It’s like someone handed you a pencil that allows you to write poetry in a way you haven’t been able to before. It’s articulate yet gentle, strong with a certain softness in its rendering. I absolutely love it. The SL/SL2 has become my workhorse when I need to be fast and flexible, or work in tougher environments, but I really like the fact that I can use M glass on the SL if needed. I use the M10, Q2, SL2, SL and CL.