Nearly 3,000 people turn out at Kodak Tower for RIT’s 32nd Big Shot photograph

Photo team captures dazzling nighttime image of Eastman Kodak Co.’s headquarters

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RIT Big Shot Team

Approximately 2,800 people came out to “paint light” on Kodak Tower on Sunday night, helping make RIT’s 32nd Big Shot photograph a success. The photo on the left is before volunteers "painted with light" while the photo on the right is when volunteers shined light sources on the 19-story building.

The opportunity to “paint light” on an iconic building to the city of Rochester's skyline and the world of photography drew nearly 3,000 people to Kodak Tower on Sunday night to help make Rochester Institute of Technology's 32nd Big Shot photograph a picturesque success.

More than 2,800 volunteers, including 250 RIT students who traveled to downtown Rochester from the Henrietta campus and about 125 alumni, provided the primary light source for the Big Shot image while RIT photographers shot an extended exposure with Kodak Tower nearly completely darkened.

This year’s final image was a 60-second exposure at f14(ISO 50). To give the photo a vintage look, the RIT photo team located a Ford Model T car with Anne Kress, president of Monroe Community College, on the plaza in front of Kodak’s headquarters. A massive 60-by-40-foot large photographic print of of George Eastman enabled the company’s founder to have a prominent presence in the image. Meanwhile, many volunteers held up pictures of current and former “Kodakers” as the shutter opened.

“The Big Shot always is a community art project, representing one of RIT’s signature events,” said RIT Michael Peres, associate chair of the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences and one of the Big Shot organizers. “All of us with the photo team are absolutely thrilled with the result of this year’s photograph of Kodak Tower. We want to thank everyone for coming out tonight to celebrate Kodak and Rochester's contributions to photography.”

Peres led the event with colleagues of the School of Photography Arts and Sciences in RIT's College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, including Willie Osterman, Christye Sisson, Dan Hughes, Eric Kunsman, Therese Mulligan, Mike Dear, Clay Patrick McBride, Debbie Kingsbury and Lisa Deromanis.

He noted that capturing the final image was the culmination of many months of hard work and close collaboration between RIT, Kodak, Nikon Inc., the the City of Rochester, Monroe Community College, Profoto, M L Caccamise Electric Corp., DiMarco Construction, and Asset One LLC.

“We couldn’t do the Big Shot without the support of our sponsors and the many volunteers who came out tonight,” Peres said. “We’ve created a once-in-a-lifetime photograph of the zenith of photography.”

The RIT team employed several photographic technologies from past centuries to capture the image on a humid Sunday night, including a camera that used a wet plate collodion process invented in the 1850s; two cameras that used dry plate film invented in the late 1880s (just like Eastman himself would have used); and a large format C-41 film camera. Two Nikon D810 digital cameras once again were used to record the Big Shot exposure.

The Big Shot often is described as “painting with light” because participants are asked to “paint” or shine their light source onto a particular area of a landmark while the photograph is taken. Participants were tasked with continuously painting their assigned areas of Kodak Tower while RIT photographers—perched across the street eight floors up on the roof of the former “button factory” building on Mill Street —shot an extended exposure. As is tradition with the Big Shot, the photo team took four timed exposures before capturing the final image around 8:15 p.m.

Since RIT started its Big Shot project at Highland Hospital in Rochester in 1987, university photographers have captured such landmarks as AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas; Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky; and the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden.

Volunteers for the free, public event received directions on how they can can download a digital copy of the finished photo.

RIT’s Big Shot event began as a way to teach students about flash photography. The university's School of Photographic Arts and Sciences is nationally recognized for its degree programs. To view the photo and images of all Big Shot subjects, go to