social impact

A Portrait of Colombian Coffee Farmers

I recently had a chance to visit various coffee farms in Colombia with Pagpropina, a social impact company that’s creating a pension fund for Colombian farmers and coffee pickers. Because of extremely low coffee prices on the international markets, many Colombian farmers are struggling to make a living. Compared to the large-scale mechanized farms in Brazil and Vietnam, most Colombian farms are small-scale and family owned. Additionally, most of Colombian coffee is hand-picked, which leads to its high-quality specialty status. We met many farmers that were trapped in a debt cycle as they relied on bank loans to keep their farms running. Savings are non-existent.

Pagpropina wanted to create images and a video to tell the story of these farmers to end-consumers of coffee in developed countries like the USA. The idea was to encourage people to leave a tip after watching the video (and viewing the images). The tip would then be aggregated into a pension fund for the coffee farmers and pickers, and eventually be disbursed through the public pension fund of Colombia, Colpensiones.

For this project, I shot on a combination of the Sony A7R III for video and digital photos, as well as the Pentax67 for some film portraits. For video, I mounted my Sony A7R III with a 24-70mm GM on a smallrig, with a Rode NTG4 (and a deadcat) and most footage was shot handheld. All footage was shot in S-Log 2. I would toggle from video to photo for digital photos if there was time for shots. On top of that, I had my Pentax67 (loaded with Portra 400) slung around my neck so that I could grab film photos whenever a good chance presented itself. Needless to say it was a lot of work but it ended up being a setup that worked!

The areas we ended up visiting were Pereira, Santa Rosa, Manizales, Chinchina, Neiva, San Agustin and Gigante. View the full set here.