RIT student set to photograph Big Shot No. 32

Student Spotlight
Ryan Flanagan, third-year photographic technologies major




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Ryan Flanagan

Ryan Flanagan, a third-year photographic technologies major, is a student organizer for RIT’s 32nd Big Shot. Flanagan, from Central Islip, N.Y., is going into his third year of involvement with Big Shot. Prior to his time at RIT, Flanagan was an Eagle Scout, which prompted his interest in nature photography and led him to become highly regarded for his academic accomplishments, including recognition at a national level.

The RIT Big Shot No. 32 will take place at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18, outside Kodak Tower in downtown Rochester. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, go to the Big Shot homepage.

Question: What brought you to RIT?
Answer: I had a friend who went here as a visual media major and informed me of the rigorous photo program here. I came here for a portfolio review and learned about the photo tech program. I thought it was an interesting mix of photography and science that I had never considered before.

Q: What led to your decision to major in photographic technologies?
A: Innately, I am a hands-on person, and I like to work on things. I liked taking apart my cameras and my gear when I was younger, so when I saw the program’s offerings, I was really interested because it placed a focus on how pictures are taken, how cameras work and how images are made from a scientific perspective.

Q: What is Big Shot?
A: Big Shot is an annual event sponsored by the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences. It is a large-scale project where we “paint” the site with light. It started in 1984, and we’ve gotten bigger and traveled farther since then. Last year, we went to Kentucky and shot Churchill Downs. This year we’re be back home at the Kodak building.

Q: How did you get involved?
A: Extra credit, originally, and a mild fascination. I was originally one of the participants, just lighting up the building. After the shoot and seeing the final photo, I became more involved because it was such an invigorating event, especially from a technical and logistical standpoint.

Q: What is your role with Big Shot 32, and how many students are expected to participate?
A: I am working as the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences photographer and will be documenting the event from a variety of perspectives. I’ll be on rooftops and then back on the ground, documenting the event from behind the scenes and in the middle of the action. It’s a lot of running around and I’ll be sleeping a lot afterwards, but I love doing it. I get to see things that most people don’t get the opportunity to see. A couple hundred students are involved every year, but the number can get into the thousands with community involvement.

Q: How many Big Shots have you participated in, and what has been your favorite Big Shot memory?
A: I’ve been a part of three. I was involved on the technical side before the Churchill Downs shoot, working to help with processing and formatting the four-camera rig used at the event. Honestly, that is my favorite memory so far. I felt that was the closest work to what my major consists of and demands. Brainstorming and working alongside the professors was truly inspirational.

Q: What makes Big Shot such a unique event?
A: It’s a large cooperative event that involves the entire school and is only done through RIT and the surrounding community. It’s a part of exhibiting the magnificent things we are capable of at this school. I don’t believe that any other school has the resources or the staff to pull off something similar.

Q: How has participating in Big Shot helped you with your major?
A: It’s helped to further connect me to the staff here. Big Shot has shown me the intricacies of a large-scale photographic production.

Q: What are your plans for after graduation?
A: To be honest, I’m not quite sure. I have been offered a lot of wonderful photographic opportunities, and I don’t know if I’m ready to settle on a single path. I recently finished a co-op at Nikon, working with their technical equipment, so perhaps something in that field, but I don’t really know at the moment. It’s good that I have another year to figure it all out. Maybe something new will come my way.

Lauren Peace compiles “Student Spotlight” for University News. Contact her at lmp1579@g.rit.edu with suggestions.

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Ryan Flanagan