Good people, there is something about lights that they sometimes make a dull performance glow like neon. Some say they add colour to things that need just a ray to become a little more stunning. Others say lights are instrumental in depicting the mood in which a scene is taking place.
Whatever the magic light is associated with, there is no greater truth than the fact that all good things that the eye sees would be virtually invisible if the gift of light was concealed from you and I.
In my line of duty, light is the reason newspapers are filled with tonnes of photographs that are either wow or not as wow as they can be. To my colleagues who prefer calling themselves photojournalists, cameras are to their trade what paintbrushes are to artists in the line of the legendary Pablo Picasso and versatile genius Leonardo da Vinci. The camerapersons will never tire bragging that a good photograph tells a thousand words. However, the most erudite of them dare add that they do not take photographs, but create photograph–and that is why the best of the pack refuse to get change for pay.
Yet their job is not rocket science–using light to create photos that tell more than a thousand words, immortalising memorable moments in the process.
However, it is shocking how owners of public venues of public entertainment in the country keep coming up with halls that will not stop denying performers, the impresario, audiences and the press all those rare opportunities to immortalise their experiences while they last.
Every city has dozens of venues where photos are marred by ill positioned light bulbs and tubes as well as misplaced windows that vomit sun rays into the camera lens without mercy.
To ghost a good photograph, camera people have to struggle from every angle and lose numerous photographable opportunities in the search of that angle which seldom comes their way.
Some may have no pity for photographers, for this is the reason they are paid the money they demand in the name of fair labour or decent work.
But they need a enabling working conditions, especially when the brains behind the events have been organising the shows for weeks, months if not years.
However, the Blantyre Cultural Centre (BCC) is one of the most notorious venues when it comes to depriving performers, organisers, patrons and the media photographic moments.
Ordinarily, the former French Cultural Centre is not an ordinary venue like your church, school block, warehouse and pub which hosts performances by musicians, poets and dramatists as and when it pleases the private owner.
Rather, BCC is a State-owned venue which the Treasury bought to give both artists and their fans an ideal place where they can meet and part happily.
But the wedge in this story that is supposed to brim with happy beginnings and endings are harsh lights that ill illumine the stage at the open theatre which hosted Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) recently.
Recently, it pleased BAF organisers to instal some 10-15 light bulbs to add some shine to the stage whose background wall is draped in a black paint emits deathly mood.
However, the lights they put are not good for stage work, but ideal for home use where the general perception is the brighter the light, the better.
If all light bulbs were good to be installed on stage, Entertainers Promotion and other promotion agencies, which have added lights to their equipment, would have thousands for whoever it may concern.
However, there are good reasons makers of lighting equipment crafted special accessories for stage lights: Performances are special moments and every piece of props must add value to these moments to remember.
Unfortunately, the bright overhead lights at BCC pound performers on top of their heads, obscuring their faces and denying cameras the ease to capture that ‘aha’ moment when applauses are inevitable.
The audiences are equally blinded from the action by the sharp lights that should not be anywhere on stage where lights of different colours, intensity and angles serve different purposes and portray a diversity of moods.
Sadly, at BCC, it is not only cameras that are struggling to capturing the glitz and glamour. The toxic lights and colour-starved backgrounds do not compensate for the lost basics. n