Lavazza 2022 calendar: scenes from a warming planet

Shot by Oscar-winner Emmanuel Lubezki, Lavazza’s 2022 calendar features social and environmental activists

Three-time Oscar winner, Emmanuel Lubezki, has shot the latest edition of Lavazza’s calendar. With striking photographs highlighting the planet’s natural environments, some emblematic of the impact of the climate crisis — disappearing glaciers, rocks, and water bodies — it is themed ‘I Can Change The World’. And it carries forward the concept of ‘The New Humanity’ that the Turin-based coffee company launched last year.

Lubezki, a cinematographer known for his extraordinary skill with natural light, says the six subjects are “each portrayed in 12 shots taken at six different moments of the day — dawn, sunrise, daytime, sunset, twilight, nighttime”.

Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki 

In focus are men and women who engage in social and environmental activism through varied art forms: musician Ben Harper; Saype, a pioneer of sustainable land art; Afghan refugee rapper Sonita Alizada; jewellery designer Shilpa Yarlagadda; marine biologist Cristina Mittermeier; and street dancer Shamell Bell. We speak to Lubezki, fondly known as Chivo, and Yarlagadda about working on the 2022 edition:

Emmanuel Lubezki: ‘We live in a moment of discord’

In an interview you said that since you’re not known as a still photographer, you had doubts about taking up this project.

Street dancer Shamell Bell 

This project was kind of an evolution of what I’ve been doing as a cinematographer. I used a technique that I’ve been practising for many years: to treat the artistes almost as directors, inviting them to share their ideas on how they wanted to be portrayed. Most of our conversations were practical. Strangely, when you start talking about practical things, you get to know about people’s personalities. It was important to portray them in authentic landscapes, and showing the environments as immersive as possible.

Having said that, the journey was complicated and difficult because of Covid: it was hard to travel and plan things.

How is this collab for the Lavazza calendar different from their earlier ones?

Singer-songwriter Ben Harper 

All the locations we shot in have been affected by global warming. Also, all these artists are people that give every hour of their lives to make the world a better place, and this was an honour for me. It was an important collaboration, also to bring attention to what they are doing, to celebrate them.

What did you learn from this project?

I realized that we live in a moment of discord, of fracture. These artists reminded me of the things that bring us together: music, nature and art.

Shilpa Yarlagadda:women deserve an equal opportunity to fail and succeed’

Tell us about the environmental/social issue you are raising in the 2022 calendar?

Jewellery designer Shilpa Yarlagadda 

I was passionate about raising awareness for gender equality. I’m keen on helping women have the same opportunities in business as men. In the US, less than 2.2% of venture capital funding goes to female entrepreneurs despite higher startup success rates that female-founded companies have. I think women deserve an equal opportunity to fail and succeed in business but failure has been held against us more.

What did you have in mind when choosing the landscapes?

With Chivo, I wanted to work with a natural landscape that could tell the origin story of a diamond – which is why we wanted to photograph in front of a volcano. Kimberlite is a rare type of magma that the natural diamonds we work with come from. We had to shift locations a few times due to Covid-19 restrictions. We were initially going to photograph at the Iceland volcanoes but in the end shot in Los Angeles.

Afghan rapper and refugee Sonita Alizada 

Lubezki has played with light and different times of day. Was there a particular reason he finalised the night/evening sky for your images?

It really allowed the jewellery and churidar I wore to sparkle with the evening light. It showcased light in the darkness quite nicely and it represents uplifting female entrepreneurs out of the shadows and into the light where they can shine brighter with more support from other women.

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