After calendars centred on the pandemic, and global warming, Lavazza returns with one to celebrate the world opening up after a series of lockdowns. Themed on YES! we’re OPEN, in the 2023 edition, ‘the bar is a place both real and metaphorical’, an ambience that American photographer Alex Prager recreates through her stunning visuals. The theme, says the brand, is ‘Lavazza embracing a message conveyed by bars and cafés at all latitudes, and is a neighbourly invitation to come in and enjoy an experience of pleasure and conviviality’.
Alongside the calendar, there is also a book by Italian architect Fabio Novembre that highlights the last 10 years of the calendar’s ‘focus on environmental and social sustainability’. “The journey that has taken Lavazza around the world in recent years could only be described in one way: like a travel diary. A book of pages ideally yellowed by time, a stained object, made of sketches and glued photos, which almost seems to have crossed all the continents where Lavazza has brought its commitment and its photographers,” says Fabio.
This, year, we speak to Alex on shooting for the 2023 edition, drawing parallels with pop culture and more:
How is the 2023 edition of the Lavazza calendar different from earlier ones?
I wanted to first go back to the roots of calendars by focussing on making beautiful images that could stand on their own, be viewed as independent artworks. By making beautiful images with themes around humanity and connection we are naturally inclined to reflect on social themes. I think they have the potential to allow us to reflect on the world and ourselves and what it is to be human today.
What does the theme signify?
We spoke a lot about what they wanted to depict around this idea of being open, how it relates to the cafe literally and to a state of mind, figuratively, I found many ways to express this in my own style and it was exciting to jump into this project with them because they themselves were so open too which made lots of room for me to have free creative expression.
Your work is known to draw inspiration from cinema, experimental films, popular culture, and street photography. How is this reflected in the calendar?
I am depicting the world as I see it and simultaneously how I wish it was all the time — I love to use bright colors as well as a diverse and unique cast of characters to express different ideas about the psychological and emotional states that we all share as people who are living in this unique time.
Please take us behind-the-scenes for a couple of these shots. Which was the most challenging and why?
It was fun shooting the December images I like to call Lavazza Eyes. The model had to hold her hot steaming espresso hovering over her face with her eyes closed because we had painted eyeballs on her eyelids. It was a precarious position to be in. I was on a ladder teetering over her trying not to fall, but it was the position I had to get in in order to get the angle for the picture I wanted to make. The whole thing was quite challenging and hilarious. The picture came out so elegant you would never guess the ridiculousness behind the making of it.
What are some of the strongest memories from this project?
The project is about my favorite subject: human connection and the human heart. I got to explore many different sides of humanity in this very condensed, beautiful calendar. I love the November calendar image because it’s very alive with memories of Paris, depictions of Paris from different ages, and also what I imagine Paris to be like. It’s that mix of collective memories intermingled with the imagination that I really love.