Joey L's Lavazza Calendar: A Study in Sustainability
It was an epic, forty day, non-stop shoot through Brazil, Peru, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico, that made Joey L’s calendar for Italian espresso brand Lavazza possible. For the uninitiated, the calendar is a big deal. Joey is the latest addition to a roster of photographers that includes Steve McCurry, Martin Schoeller, Annie Leibovitz, Erwin Olaf, David LaChapelle, and Helmut Newton, among others that have created these monumental projects. The whirlwind Lenten length shoot is an inherent part of capturing this depth in a project, and earned through the international recognition that the annual calendar commands.
This year the theme is “From Father to Son,” a continuation of last year’s theme, focusing on vertically responsible and sustainable food practices in a world economy that extends beyond coffee. Lavazza’s ongoing partnership with Slow Food, a company that makes small, sustainable farming more widely available in the world market, fills out the calendar so that the images touch on the entire universe of food and how families come together to put beautiful food on the table. At one point, Joey got to photograph oyster farmers who have their own small operation in the shadow of Brazil’s factory farming, but with the help of Slow Food and Lavazza they’ve been able to find the customers they need. “In that region in Brazil there are a lot of huge companies that oyster farm in a factory type setting. But Slow Flood comes in and they see a family run business doing it in a more sustainable way,” explains Joey. “And instead of getting the products from the factory, they open up a supply chain directly with these family run places to a restaurant or a supermarket in Italy or Paris.” It is an operation of access, and it’s changing the lives for these farmers while changing the quality of food being made available to the world.
This is a serious issue as our relationship with food becomes ever more distant from the source. But as Joey L tells it, the Lavazza calendar this year is bringing a face to this heritage and encapsulating the value of the tradition. “Our Calendar is focusing on the future generation of agriculturalists,” says Joey. “Every single shot is a group shot in a way, even if the parent, or the grandmother or grandfather is in the background somewhere. For me it was always approaching it as a group shot first. Collaborating together. It always started with trying to show two people. It shows the passing of generations. Showing people together.” These farmers are hands on, keeping the human element connected with the food from beginning to end guaranteeing more sustainable practices and universal experiences.
To tell such an important story required the crazy schedule that Joey L and his team embarked on, all forty days through all those countries, meeting those people, and having a few cups of coffee in between. “Our only break was maybe sitting in the van for 12 hours. It was a really daunting challenge holistically it was non-stop. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever done commercially,” says Joey. “It was a dream assignment, to be honest.”