The Purest Picture

JWT Amsterdam’s innovative campaign for Spa turns a drop of water into a lens

Amsterdam, 24 January 2018 – The small town of Spa is set just outside a nature reserve in the Belgian Ardennes. This is the home of Spa mineral water - which claims to be the world’s purest water. J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam set out to prove just how pure and clear Spa water is, so the agency came up with the idea of challenging top Dutch portrait photographer, Robin de Puy, to take a photo through a drop of Spa.

The innovation team at J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam were set the task of turning this natural element into a functional lens – and building a unique camera to capture a portrait through a drop of water. Teaming up with tech specialists Etulipa, J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam broke the problem down into several steps.

The force of gravity dictates that a drop of water dissolves into a puddle when placed onto a glass plate, so the first challenge was to find a way to make the drop of Spa water keep its spherical shape. The answer was to add water-repellent coating. The next problem to solve was to find a way to control the shape of the water drop to allow the photographer to pull focus. This was resolved by employing an electro-wetting technique: by changing the electricity voltage running through the drop of water, its shape either contracts or expands. Then, a small mirror was added underneath at a 45- degree angle to reflect horizontal light up through the lens. Finally, a sensor was added, and after much experimenting, the world’s first water camera was finally ready to make its premier.

Bas Korsten, Creative Partner, J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam

 “When people talk about innovation, it generally means working with cutting edge technology. What I love about The Purest Picture is that we are being innovative, but rather than high tech, this is low tech: we’re using one of the world’s oldest natural materials, water. Sometimes the most interesting results come from stripping the creative process back down to its essence and using old school elements in a totally new way.” 

Robin de Puy, portrait photographer

“Creating The Purest Picture was a surprisingly rich and challenging experience. I guess without realising it we have become rather dependent on technology. I always shoot with the latest cameras and have become used to how quick and easy it is. With The Purest Picture I had to go back to basics and work with a mirror, a diaphragm, and a lens - which in this case was the drop of water. Then I went in search of beautiful characters with a story to tell – and ended up with a series of portraits with strangely timeless feel, it’s almost like they are black-and-white watercolours. And I think we managed to capture their pure emotion – all through a drop of Spa.”

CREDITS SPA ‘The Purest Picture’


CLIENT                                  Spa

AGENCY                               J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam


CREATIVE PARTNER          Bas Korsten

CREATIVES                           Niels Bredemeijer, Rienk de Vries                                    


PR DIRECTOR                      Jessica Hartley


ACCOUNT                            Alewijn Dekker, Charlotte Lilly

TV PRODUCER                    Mariska Fransen, Martijn van Hees

PRODUCER                          Julie van Lanschot

EDITOR                                  Tim Arnold



Vice President Operations  Pieter van der Valk

CEO & Electrowetting Expert  Hans Feil 



DIRECTOR                            Maarten Groen

DOP                                        Myrthe Mosterman

EDITOR                                  Ruben Labree

PRODUCER                          Lotte Kwak


MUSIC                                   Audio Netwerk

SOUND DESIGN                  Alan van Ramshorst




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