Documenting daily life in plantations is one of the most beautiful projects that every photographer should take on if they have the chance. Every location holds a different story and shows a certain scenery but the messages are always eye-opening. Case in point is the excellent documentary work by Milan-based Giacomo Bruno, simply titled Ceylon Tea.
Taken most likely during a visit to the country last year, Giacomo’s work takes us to one of the lush tea plantations in Sri Lanka, and shows us what the typical days are like for its hardworking tea pickers. Ceylon Tea, the country’s very own brand of tea, is considered as one of the “raw gold” crops of Sri Lanka. Through this set of candid portraits, Giacomo also introduced us to “the people who bring this popular beverage on our tables everyday.”
This body of work becomes particularly interesting and relevant when we put into account the fact that Sri Lanka is the world’s fourth largest producer of tea. Also, with the country’s tea industry going as far back as 1867, it becomes even more compelling when we imagine how many generations of tea picking families have toiled on in this estate alone that Giacomo has covered. Another detail that I find interesting is how Giacomo was able to even more humanize Sri Lanka’s tea industry by including some shots from the homes of the workers. I wish he was able to extend this series to show more of those, or even to show what the start and end of their working days are like. But I digress.
Overall, I find Ceylon Tea to be one of those projects that aspiring documentary photographers should seek, not only to practice the photography aspect, but also making connections and establishing a clear narrative with purpose.
If you enjoyed this set, I’m sure you’ll also enjoy learning about coffee growing in Ethiopia through the photos of Emily Garthwaite.
Giacomo Bruno has a number of other documentary work taken around Sri Lanka, so you might also want to check them out on his Behance page.