My night with the Ford GT in Paris
A few weeks before the Chantilly Arts & Elegance, I was contacted by Ford France for something pretty pretty cool. Basically, they wanted to invite me to an exclusive night photo shooting of the new 2016 Ford GT in Paris, hence the very original title « my night with the Ford GT in Paris« . I had already seen the car during the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, and it was love at first sight back then. Ever since, I’ve been very eager to see more. Funnily enough, the car attended the Chantilly Arts & Elegance concours as well. Like most cars that day, the new Ford GT quickly became a subject of discussion between my friends and I, but I didn’t want to give away too much, and the fact that I was a really lucky fella. So the fateful night happened a few days after the Chantilly Arts & Elegance, on a very « random » parisian night.
I showed up at the RDV meeting point around 6 or 7 PM, which was near a bridge that had a magnificent view of the Notre-Dame Cathedral. There still was daylight and the photo crew, led by photographer Bernard Rouffignac, were preparing everything for the shoot, which was going to last all night, at different trademark locations in Paris. The Ford GT hadn’t arrived yet, but there already was a pretty cool Ford Focus ST in a very cool « Tangerine Scream » (aka orange). We went to grab a bite to eat for the night, and the guy tried to rip us off thinking we were tourists, for some reason. French tradespeople lol. So we took our food to the place, and there it was, the Ford GT was already out and about. With the Notre-Dame cathedral in the background. The car was the same as the one we had seen during all the previous events: the blue one.
The place is pretty well-known by french photographers, and with good reason: it’s one of the nicest spots in Paris. That night there were a bunch of students enjoying themselves a few meters from the car, but funnily enough, none of them seemed to pay much attention at the car. This is something that I’ve always found very amusing: when « common folks » that aren’t too much into cars are in the presence of an incredible machine, yet don’t realize it. So the photographer Bernard Rouffignac had already started working his magic with the car. For me it was something completely new and refreshing: I had never witnessed a « professional night shoot », therefore everything was new to me: crew, technique, procedure, flashes. I learned a lot that night, and it was a pretty cool experience to see how they worked. I obviously took a few photos here and there, but they weren’t as good as I had hoped, mainly because of the lighting: they didn’t require too much light, or very sporadic lighting using flashes. So when we were at Notre-Dame, the car was sort of « in the dark ». The Ford France CEO even came to take a quick « personal photo » with the car. I would’ve done the same, the opportunity was too good to miss haha!
After a few hours, it was time to move to another spot. « Sadly », the Ford GT didn’t drive from place to place, but it was transported in a truck by two very cool Ford employees (who were very patient & hadn’t slept much, therefore much respect to them!) – which is understandable considering it was a brand new car, and the shoot was sort of « low profile ». We then drove to the next location: the Bir Hakeim bridge. Needless to say, Ford had already sorted out all sorts of authorizations to take pictures in those iconic places (because YES, you do need them). The Bir Hakeim bridge probably was the coolest place for me. The lighting was fairly good, and the Eiffel tower in the back made it even more special. Most of you might recognize the place from the famous Inception movie!
It was sometimes hard having to deal with traffic, but luckily it was quite a bit late and there weren’t *that* many people driving around at that time of night or stopping by the car for too long. I even stumbled into a lovely couple of Venezuelan tourists who went crazy for the car (well, mostly the dude lol)! I explained to him the car wasn’t released yet, and he went berserk & was super excited. That’s the kind of reaction a modern supercar would do to you, and the Ford GT is no different: you FEEL there is something special, it’s not just *any* sports car. This location allowed me to take some pretty cool photos. I had the genius idea (joking, obviously) to bring my 1/43 mini Ford GT, which led to a few awesome shots, with the real one in the back!
At about 3 or 4 AM, for some reason, I thought it might be a good idea to go back home and sleep for a bit. But I ended up not sleeping at all, so I could’ve just stayed with the team all night long and not waste all that time. Considering there was no public transportation, I took a bike to join the team in MontMartre (they had changed locations and were supposed to be there for dawn). If that doesn’t make you cringe, that is because you didn’t make the connection between BIKE & Montmartre, which is one of the highest points in Paris. I’m very far from an athelete or a Tour de France cyclist, BTW. Needless to say, it was a VERY intense & tiring ride to go there haha. But totally worth it.
We basically were on the roof of Paris, overlooking the city of Lights which was sleeping at our feet. It was a very privileged and exclusive moment. Not many people can say they’ve spent a night with the Ford GT in Paris. It was around 5/6 AM, and there weren’t many people. Only the random early jogger which would pass by, sometimes stop to quickly take a look at the car, and keep doing his morning grind. We stayed there for a few hours, taking photos and mainly waiting for the day to rise. We didn’t have much luck because it turned out to be a very cloudy morning, so the sun rays didn’t bless us that morning, illuminating the car. But hey, it was such an awesome experience that I’ll forgive the sun just this once. Once Bernard Rouffignac, the photographe, had finished his work. I popped-in to do a LIVE video feed for the alexsmolik community: waking-up with the Ford GT was truly spectacular. There finally was enough light to do some decent shots and above all, for you to see something in the video.
So there you go, this is my night with the Ford GT in Paris. Thanks to everyone who made it happen and turned it into an unforgettable experience – Thank you Ford France!
Hope you enjoyed reading this little adventure – more are coming!
Pictures: my own & by Bernard Rouffignac (you’ll know the difference, trust me)