This past May, I had the pleasure of travelling to Colombia with Grace Potter, to shoot the recently launched fair trade campaign “Great Coffee, Good Vibes, Pass It On”. If you’ve seen the videos from this trip, you’ll know that while in Colombia Grace met with local coffee producers, visited several farms, helped harvest coffee and charmed the locals with a very special live acoustic performance.
The videos capture the energy and essence of our trip beautifully, with a mélange of shots piecing together our adventures. What you don’t see are the adventures that happened off-camera. A lot can happen in four days, so here’s a little behind-the-scenes story of our travels...
The first day, we scouted El Porvenir – a small coffee farm located high in the hills of Popayan, owned by Flor Moreno – a lovely, soft-spoken lady who has been farming coffee her entire life. After trekking through hillsides covered in coffee trees, we settled into an evening dinner with officials from COSURCA – the area’s fair trade coffee cooperative. It was amazing to hear firsthand how fair trade has impacted their lives and their communities. They explained how coffee is the social fabric of Colombia and shared stories of family, politics, social economics, and visions for the future – plans for change, purpose and prosperity, not for some but for all.
The following day, Grace arrived in Colombia accompanied by her lovely mother, Peggy. Upon meeting Grace, I was struck by two things: First, is that in-person Grace looks exactly like Heidi Klum. For some reason this isn’t as evident in photos, but in person it’s uncanny. Second, I was struck by how genuinely nice Grace was. And it was genuine. Over our four-day shoot in Colombia, Grace wore a smile on and off-camera and provided constant comic relief to the crew, with a seemingly endless stream of witty one-liners.
In the days that followed we travelled to three different farms, met with dozens of coffee producers, their families and members of their communities. On the final night, Grace performed an intimate, acoustic set for about 100 or so coffee producers and their families. People travelled for miles, some leaving their homes before dawn, to join us at a family-owned coffee farm. The farm seemed to be situated on top of the world and offered a 360 degree vista of breathtaking peaks and valleys, including the most northern reaches of the Andes.
As the sun set, Grace sat atop a massive tree stump under a small pavilion and began playing for a captivated audience. By the end of her fourth song, you could feel the energy, the good vibes, radiating from our small gathering. The family hosting the concert prepared an incredible traditional meal of roast pig, plantains and potatoes. After the performance, we made our way back to the monastery (our hotel), to begin packing for the following day’s trek home.
As I said, a lot can happen in four days. I didn’t tell you that our videographer broke his arm 10 minutes into shooting on our first day. Or that we had dinner with the Mayor. Another time perhaps!
I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to travel with my career, but even more lucky that I get to meet people from all over the world. People I would not have an opportunity to meet otherwise. There’s beauty in the unfamiliar, and travelling over the years has taught me to open my eyes and ears, and listen with my head and heart.