POSTPONED: RIT’s nighttime community photo project focuses on women’s rights icon

National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House is the subject of RIT’s 34th Big Shot on March 22

RIT Big Shot Team

The Big Shot image will include the statues depicting Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony having tea.

UPDATE: March 12: RIT Big Shot No. 34, which was scheduled for Sunday, March 22, at the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House and the surrounding neighborhood, has been postponed. The Big Shot team has not indicated a rescheduled date at this time. The alumni barbecue scheduled to precede the Big Shot also is postponed. Further information will be forthcoming through the Big Shot website:

These actions are being undertaken to mitigate the potential spread of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). While some campus operations and activities may continue, they will have adjustments, including cancellations. Conditions are evolving. RIT is working to provide additional information as quickly as possible.

Rochester, N.Y.’s notable histories as the birthplace of the women’s rights movement and photography will come together for Rochester Institute of Technology’s Big Shot next month.

Organizers of the longtime community photographic project will capture a dramatic nighttime image of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, 17 Madison St., and surrounding neighborhood as subjects of the RIT Big Shot on Sunday night, March 22.

Anthony’s National Historic Landmark home shares the iconic civil rights leader’s lifelong struggle to gain voting rights for women and equal rights for all. The home was the site of Anthony’s famous arrest for voting in 1872 and headquarters of the National American Woman Suffrage Association when she served as its president. It also is where Anthony died in 1906, at age 86, following her “Failure is Impossible” speech in Baltimore.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which prevents a woman from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex. This historic centennial aligns with two other historic events—Susan B. Anthony’s 200th birthday and the Anthony Museum’s 75th anniversary.

The RIT Big Shot, described as “painting with light,” engages student and community volunteers to provide the primary light source for the image while RIT photographers shoot an extended exposure. It’s a signature event for the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and RIT’s College of Art and Design and is led by the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (SPAS), which is nationally recognized for its degree programs.

“Photographing a neighborhood in a single image is a significant challenge in and of itself,” said Dan Hughes, a lecturer in SPAS and RIT Big Shot team member. “We will be attempting this with six cameras synchronized together to capture a 210-degree angle view with important compositional aspects in the foreground—including the statues depicting Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony having tea—along with neighborhood homes as the background setting for their historical reference.”

“The concept for the lighting of the photograph aims to celebrate women’s rights and the anniversary of Susan. B. Anthony’s legacy, and will hinge on the number of people who show up to help the Big Shot team light the scene,” added Eric Kunsman, a lecturer for the visual communications studies program in NTID and an adjunct professor for SPAS.

Deborah L. Hughes, president and CEO of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House, called RIT’s Big Shot “one of the most exciting and innovative projects” as the historical landmark marks a yearlong celebration of events.

“The Big Shot brings students of photography together with community and neighbors to create art on a grand scale,” Hughes said. “2020 is the perfect year to highlight Susan B. Anthony and her neighborhood that is a National Preservation District, right here in Rochester.”

While Big Shot plans are still being finalized, organizers are considering using reenactors and other elements to make the shot even more compelling, said Michael Peres, associate chair of SPAS and another RIT Big Shot team member.

Organizers ask that volunteers arrive by 7:15 p.m. March 22. Parking is available at Data Vault Storage Services on King Street to keep vehicles off the side streets that will be in the photograph. An information desk will be set up on the east side of the park. The Big Shot photograph is scheduled to be taken soon after sunset, regardless of weather conditions. Volunteers are asked to bring either a flashlight or a camera flash unit, and wear dark clothing. Participants will be separated into lighting teams and positioned by organizers before test photos are taken and the final image is captured.

Nikon Inc., a longtime sponsor of the Big Shot, once again will be the event’s premier sponsor. Additional sponsors include Profoto, which will provide specialized lighting equipment, including powerful battery-operated electronic flash systems; the City of Rochester; and Eastman Kodak Co., which will assist in the delivery of complimentary memento prints.

About RIT Big Shot
RIT started its Big Shot project in 1987. The event has traveled to a number of national landmarks and twice crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Through their viewfinders, RIT Big Shot photographers have captured landmarks in the United States such as Kodak Tower in Rochester; Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.; the Alamo in San Antonio; and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Internationally, the RIT team has captured Pile Gate in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and the Royal Palace in Stockholm, Sweden.

To learn more about the project and view photographs of past Big Shot images, go to the Big Shot Facebook page or the Big Shot webpage. The project also can be followed on Twitter at @RITBigShot along with the hashtags #RITBigShot, #rocsuffrage, #SusanB200, and #SusanBROCs.

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