by Daniel Caspari, July 2022
The success of a campaign pretty much depends on its creative idea and the people involved. Additionally, when planning a campaign during a pandemic – like in my case in Ghana – a whole new set of questions arose: What are the current COVID-restrictions? Are we able to go there? If not: Do we have a back-up plan? How can we brief and work smoothly with a local team of visual creators remote?
In the end it was a very eye-opening experience for me. I learned why it is crucial to cooperate with local visual creators – not only because of the ecological advantages and the added value in the origin, but because of their perspectives. And isn’t it in the end all about perspectives?
The last bigger project I executed for my former employer Fairtrade Germany was a campaign called the «Impact Diaries».
Impact Diaries are short videos taken by cocoa farmers who bear witness to the success of a living income strategy. We hosted a workshop at the cooperative to enable the farmers to record their stories with a smartphone.
We also documented the whole workshop with a video camera. The footage was later combined with an explanatory part of the actress Emilia Schüle and the former soccer player and foundation founder Neven Subotic to the documentary «How much is a good life?».
For the video documentation at the different locations in Poland, Austria and Ghana we hired a German crew I used to work with. What was missing was a professional local photographer who would accompany us in Ghana, document the whole production process and portrait the farmers.
I have never worked with a local professional visual creator before and didn’t really know how to proceed. Luckily, I happened to hear about Fairpicture. Thanks to their smooth processes we managed to request, book and brief the Ghanaian photographer Nipah Dennis in record time and were ready to take off.
Our local photographer: Nipah Dennis.
© Paul Sydow / Sydow Media GmbH
In April 2021, our small crew arrived safely in Accra. We met Nipah and he instantly became part of the team. Together we travelled to the village of Abekwease, where the cocoa farmers of the living income project live. We held the workshop and recorded the first Impact Diaries. Nipah was always around and documented everything with his camera like a silent observer.
Bismark together with his wife in their backyard.
© Nipah Dennis / Fairpicture
I guess it must have been the day of the portrait shots when I first realised how much of a difference a local photographer makes. While Europeans like me can’t escape our enthusiasm for the unknown, it was Nipah who looked directly into people's souls with his camera. He also came up with ideas for motives and sceneries we just didn’t have the eye for.
Back in Germany, we continued the intensive work on the documentary as well as the website. We had two more months until the launch of the campaign. What was already waiting for us on the Fairpicture platform – carefully edited and with all consent forms in place: Nipah’s pictures. So even with our main assets – documentary and website – under construction, we already had something to show and share.
Although I have been working for Fairtrade for more than ten years and have visited several producer countries, Nipah's creative approach was new to me. His images not only blew me away, but also made our clients, donors and colleagues very curious about what was coming soon.
Meanwhile, I made a change and started working for Fairpicture as a business developer at the beginning of 2022. Today I am much more familiar with the concept of a „fair picture“.
So let’s look at the different dimensions of visuals and apply our criteria of a „fair picture“ to Nipah’s work:
benefit not only from all legal aspects such as the clearly arranged consent forms, but they are also appreciated and receive dignity. This is clearly visible in Nipah’s pictures and through his work.
are fairly paid. By working with local professionals more value remains in the origin. Plus you save a lot of CO2 by travelling with less people.
can be assured to receive visual material that is compliant with their basic principles such as non-discrimination, transparency or non-harming.
As the Impact Diaries followed a completely new and self-directed approach – having the farmers tell their story directly via smartphone – the public receives transparent information they can trust.
After the campaign’s success and the work with local professionals, Fairtrade Germany took the chance and ordered a follow-up mini-documentary via Fairpicture (> click on the right to start watching).
This time nobody travelled from Germany to Ghana. With the confidence built, they put the complete responsibility for pictures and video material in the hands of Ghanaian visual creators and were once again overwhelmed by the results and the energy which did arise.
Having said this and being now at the control centre of fair visual material I feel very privileged to follow up this path and co-create together with our unique global network of visual creators and our mission driven clients more new and striking ways of storytelling.
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