Lydia Whitmore Discovers the Origin of Coffee with Nespresso
In Nespresso’s latest campaign, The Origin of Coffee, created with photographer Lydia Whitmore, they strike a fascinating aesthetic balance between photography and illustration. The imagery creates an almost alternate reality that exists in the space between the two mediums. For Lydia to achieve this her team crafted paper sets for the coffee and then she balanced the images with the propping so together they would sell the aesthetic chameleon. “The challenge in this project was working on such a small scale and making sure that the coffee sat naturally within the set,” she explains. To make that happen she surrounded herself with a great team.
“Luckily, I was working with an amazing paper artist, Lydia Shirreff, who understands finding the right weight and texture of paper, and transformed the original illustrations into a carefully designed and intricate set.” Bringing coffee plants, flowers, and huts apart from the background offered a whole new dimension not only for image placement but also to let Lydia play with shadows and depth.
While all their hard work appears in the final photographs, there’s even more we don’t see.
“The other indispensable team member was Lesley Sendall who is a really talented food stylist,” Lydia explains. “She had a table of Nespresso machines all going to achieve the perfect coffee with the exact proportion of crema. What I didn’t realize at the start of the day was that the coffee she prepares is only perfect for around 3-5 seconds, after that it settles, and a new batch has to be made.” With the flora and fauna popping off the page, fresh coffees zooming in and out of the frame, it’s a wonder that Lydia was able to capture a stillness and calm that comes with the morning’s first cup of coffee.
Of course, after a full day of pulling shots, Lydia’s whole crew had their fill of coffee. But Lydia stayed focused and chill by abstaining while the world hummed around her. “I don’t drink coffee so I missed out on all the free drinks the rest of the crew were taking advantage of - I think they were all buzzing by the end of the day!”
Serge Seidlitz and Andrew Rae Show the World Through a Child's Eyes
Imagine if we all saw the world as children do. Endless potential and opportunity, each path ahead of us an avenue of imagination. The shapes of clouds turning into medieval battles, and the whispers of rivers our favorite new songs. Each moment is unlockable, revealing a new game, a new way to play, and a new way to see our world. The voices of children, no matter how loud while at play, are piteously silent when considered by very important adults with very important adult lives with very important adult decisions. London's Museum of Childhood asks its attendees to explore the value of a child’s eyes, offering the challenge to shrug off our man made apparatuses that mercilessly eat up our days. Inside the museum are exhibits, events, and activities that remind attendees of their own childhoods, and teach about the childhoods of people worlds a way. But the lesson doesn’t need to stay within those four London walls.
As a part of an environmental campaign, the museum teamed up with more than a dozen artists to create art out of the natural and pedestrian landmarks around London. Each artist created original work that played off native points of interest: a door's natural wear turns into an interested ostrich with the addition of an illustrated face. A crosswalk becomes the gaping mouth of a curious bird.
For those of us that aren't around London right now, photographer Lydia Whitmore plays as our eyes. Hunting each native piece through the streets of London, Lydia fits each and everyone into her viewfinder so that we may see London in some different way. You can experience Lydia’s journey through London using the “See the World” micro site that includes Lydia’s photographs and the locations of each piece.
Andrew Rae and Serge Seidlitz were a part of the creative roster to eke out the imagination of London's populace. Each environmental piece of art featured the Museum of Childhood’s bold encouragement to “See the world through a child’s eyes.”
Serge Seidlitz’s “Ostrich” face, tail, and long legs are carefully arranged around the shipped paint of a fire exit on Brady Street. Splashes of paint on the wall of a self-storage facility on Sidney Street become the torrents from a thunder cloud, Serge’s creation “Cloud.”
In Andrew Rae’s “Bird” two markings that had been painted on a crosswalk at Shipton Street and Columbia Road were repurposed as the beak of a large blue, aggressive bird.
Following Lydia's path through the map provided to us by the museum, we're able to use Serge and Andrew's imagination to see London with all the imaginative details that a child would bring to their vision, and that new sight changes the way we see the city. Now the question remains: how does it change your own vision?
Chrissie Macdonald and Lydia Whitmore Created a Monster
The Internet is a volatile place. When anonymity is the standard and shaming is the go-to response to the unsavory, lives and careers can see destruction in a matter of days if not hours. The list of casualties from the mob rules of the Internet is long and growing, with any number of causes. Whether it’s the result of a single ill conceived tweet (like in the case of Justin Sacco), or a private photo made public (like Lindsey Stone), the calls of an anonymous public deafen reason and careers, relationships, and in the most drastic cases, lives can be lost.
Covering last weekend’s The Guardian was a story by Jon Ronson about the danger of the internet mobs, detailing his own troubles, and examining other, better known cases. To illustrate the idea, and communicate the emotional issues behind it, The Guardian tasked Chrissie Macdonald for the cover and a spread. She partnered with B&A still life photographer Lydia Whitmore to help her bring it all together. And they didn’t have much time.
The concept, shepherded by Guardian Weekend Art Director Maggie Murphy, was using emojis to illustrate the emotions behind the dangers of the anonymous masses. “It was quite a quick turnaround, but I quite like the idea of trying to create emotion in everything in as little mark making as possible,” explains Chrissie. “It was about keeping it bold and graphic and playing around with the different expressions to see how it worked.” After spending a few days playing with a number of materials and applications, Chrissie created a literal monster. Since she was using a paper cut technique on balls, she found she could alter the projected emotions of each character with a slight movement, doctoring each face to ensure it told the story precisely.
Once Chrissie had made her figures, she brought Lydia in to get the composition just right. For Lydia, communicating the power of Chrissie’s creation was about angles. Shooting the monster was about placing the camera to look up at it, giving it the illusion of scale and strength. For the cover, it was the opposite. “Since we’re looking down at the guy getting squashed he’s kind of more pathetic,” explains Lydia. We find ourselves feeling sorry for a little squished yellow ball.
Both Chrissie and Lydia are very sensitive to the mysterious whims of the internet masses: both have largely shirked social media. “I avoid all of that stuff,” says Lydia. Once you put something out into the world on social media, you cannot be sure how it’s going to be interpreted. Lydia explains her hesitance: “I don’t like that you have no control over the audience.” For Chrissie, once those interpretations are solidified, things can get out of hand. “It’s kind of easy to gang up on someone en masse on social media in a way that maybe you wouldn’t in the real world,” says Chrissie. As Jon Ronson explains it, there's a fine line we all have to walk, less we squashed.