Lucia Bawot's debut photography book, We Belong: An Anthology of Colombian Women Coffee Farmers, a collection of intimate photography accompanied by short vignettes, is an artistic declaration that brings to light the life stories of 25 Colombian women coffee farmers. Through Bawot's lens, the common, one-dimensional portrayal of a female coffee producer as just that—a woman toiling in a coffee field—is shattered, vividly revealing the full spectrum of women farmers' life experiences. Ultimately, We Belong is a call to action, urging us to deepen our exploration of the ties that bind us together. "I hope that your experience with We Belong mirrors my own," writes Bawot in the book's introduction, "identifying with stories that feel familiar, and learning from those that do not."
First conceived in mid-2019 when Bawot noticed the absence of women as protagonists in her portfolio of coffee stories, We Belong took shape over 18 months of travel, interviews, photoshoots, writing, editing, and designing. During this whirlwind period, Bawot visited the Colombian regions of Quindío, Cauca, Antioquia, Nariño, Huila, Tolima, and Magdalena—the regions with the largest number of women coffee producers. Throughout these travels, she met, interviewed, and photographed 62 women coffee farmers and pickers, ranging between the ages of 20 and 104.
From the resulting thousands of photographs and dozens of pages of interview notes and journal entries, Bawot distilled We Belong into a striking glimpse of the lives of these women. Across the book's 196 pages, Bawot has organized its seven chapters along the arc of a macro story she found again and again in her interactions with her interviewees. Each of the 25 stories is complemented with a short written feature and direct quotes from the farmer (in both English and Spanish). Additionally, each story includes the farmer's age along with the size and location of her farm, in order to help articulate just how diverse this group of invisible producers is and to honor the importance of the concept of belonging.
To complement this photography experience, the book also includes a QR code that provides access to behind-the-scenes audio commentary about the making of We Belong, as well as a playlist with music selected and inspired by the women featured in the book.