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When the CEO becomes a Smurf…

The corporate colour for this most famous of motor manufacturers, the family company that launched the concept of mass production, the founder who declared all history is bunk, is of course, blue. And the stage set for the great man himself, grandson of the founder, has been enthusiastically lit by the set designers in a staggering deep blue. The only problem is, striking though this may be for the audiovisual show that is about to unfold, Bill Ford, Chairman and CEO, is bathed from head to toe in a luminous blue wash that makes this leader of men resemble one of those small much-loved characters called Smurfs.

The Ford official photographer, careful not to crowd the stage, has brought his big long white Canon lens to this Barcelona event, warned by the client that the photography position is likely to be quite far away from the main podium. That’s not a problem, I love working on long lenses, and this 600mm F4 Canon glass is perfect for the job. But blue? There will be no prizes for a blue image, so much so that I won’t be showing what the pictures actually looked like here. I promised I wouldn’t. Ever.

Just sometimes at conferences and events, the lighting designer has to think beyond the glory of his stage show, he has to remember that there is a balance between striking effects of light and sound, there is a person, and that person needs to be filmed and photographed and not just seen and heard. Behind me a number of the invited press photographers and video crews were not so restrained as me and the Ford communications team in suggesting that there be some white light on our scion of industry as soon as possible. Despite the perfect sound live from the stage, the words were hard to hear above the calls and shouts from the press pool. Happily, I was not in the middle of the vocal source of discontent. There was a pause. A brief moment of silence. And suddenly, as light beaming down through a cathedral window in the middle of a great service, white light was found and poured onto our subject turning him from alien to human in an instant. And, of course, the show went on.

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