Mention Brooke Bond and most people think of talking chimps slurping cuppas in run-of-the-mill kitchens. The associations are ones of familiarity and comfort, associations that needed to be ditched when Brooke Bond decided to produce a range of premium teas which would ‘further a tea market that has remained fairly static’, says Hamm. Client and designer got together to explore ideas, and arrived at the concept of four single estate teas: ‘Lots of people understand and appreciate the idea of single estate wines, so we thought that as a model it would work well,’ explains Hamm.
But how to visually put across the idea of a single estate? Using people, animals, vegetation from one area, or the actual terrain of the area? ‘The four teas are harvested from regions that are very distinct from one another, so it made sense to use the landscapes of those regions,’ says Hamm. The idea of landscapes also fitted well with the editorial feel the designers wanted for the pack shots. ‘We were looking for a lifestyle feel, a Sunday supplement look,’ says Hamm. Sketches of the regions, including highlands, lowlands and mountains, were signed off by the client before Hamm and photographer Pete Seaward even boarded the plane for Sri Lanka, which meant that their shots would have to closely resemble them. ‘Sometimes you can use a trace, which is where you stick a sketch done on tracing paper to the camera and look for a shot similar to it, but it’s an incredibly restricting practice that leaves no room for that unexpected thing you might not have known was there. What Pete and I did instead was spend a few days looking around the locations. Pete’s interest in the project and the countryside led me to believe he would be as enthusiastic as I was to get the right shots, and he was. One shot took three days to get, but he was as determined as I was to get that shot.’
Back home, all the black and white shots were hand-tinted by Seaward to suggest the times of day the teas are harvested. For the backs of the packs, WMB used images from the landscapes. The aim was to evoke the atmosphere from the locations, which would ‘offer a relevant icon of the taste’; the back of the light, citrusy Diyagama West tea, for example, features a floating seed head.
Hamm says everything on this job worked well. ‘The client was very supportive, and Pete was great. Too often people treat photographers badly, saying “here’s an illustration” and expecting them to just shoot that illustration, but to get something magical, some spontaneity, you have to go beyond that.’