For her multimedia longform, journalist Elisabeth Weydt traveled to the Andes in Peru with an interdisciplinary team of photographers, programmers, and illustrators. Through a combination of photos, moving images, sound, and text she tells the story of two sisters who grow hundreds of different kinds of potatoes 3,500 meters above sea level.
CH: How did the project start? What is it about?
Elisabeth Weydt: The project started with a man telling Jakob and me about these sisters who know how to build lakes and grow hundreds of different kinds of potatoes 3,500 meters above sea level. It sounded confusing and puzzling and kind of unreal. We didn’t really get it. But then we found out about a grant from a green institution that wanted to support stories about good food for everyone. So we thought let’s try to find out what’s going on with these ladies!
CH: What was it like to work with the community?
EW: They were very sweet. We had to eat potatoes all day long. Everywhere we went, they offered us potatoes and cheese, their main dish high up in the Andes. Marcela and Magda were very kind; they drove us around and showed us everything. It was a great privilege that we were allowed to attend the water festival, and it was a great experience to see their seemingly endless energy and happiness. I’m still not sure if they really believe in these things such as taking garlic and lemon with you to prevent conflict in meetings.
CH: You worked in an interdisciplinary team of journalists, programmers, and illustrators. How did the project come about? What experiences did you have?
EW: I like working in interdisciplinary teams as everyone has different approaches and ideas. It can be very productive when everybody really loves the story. The team wasn’t that big: Jakob was doing camera and programming, Tine was doing the illustrations, Gideon was also programming, and Felix and Sebastian were making the music. It took quite a long time to find a tool and way to tell the story that way, but Jakob and Gideon liked to experiment and try things out. I’m really happy about that because I wouldn’t have had the patience.
CH: How did you find the right form and how did you explore new ways of digital storytelling with the project?
EW: When we were in Peru we already knew we wanted to make something like this, a combination of photos, moving image, sound and text. So we collected these long shots that now look like moving photos. Besides this, I like the way Illustrations can add another level of interpretation to storytelling, especially to a story like this. There are things that happened in the past or might happen in the future that we don’t have pictures of. And there is this mystical dream-like dimension of the Pachamama religion and their belief in natural spirits that’s difficult to capture in photorealistic material. So illustrations seemed the perfect way to tell that part of the story. On a technical level, it was mainly trial and error for Jakob and Gideon to find the right way to put all these dimensions together.