Rochester’s history as the birthplace of the women’s rights movement and photography will come together for Rochester Institute of Technology’s Big Shot on March 22.
Organizers of the community photographic project will capture a nighttime image of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, 17 Madison St., and the surrounding neighborhood.
Anthony’s National Historic Landmark home shares the 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 arrest in 1872 and headquarters of the National American Woman Suffrage Association when she served as its president. It is where Anthony died at 86 years old in 1906 following her “Failure is Impossible” speech in Baltimore.
This year marks 100 years since the passage of the 19th Amendment, which prevents a woman from being denied the right to vote on the basis of sex. This centennial aligns with Anthony’s 200th birthday and the Museum’s 75th anniversary.
The RIT Big Shot 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.
“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Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony having tea — along with neighborhood homes as the background setting for their historical reference.”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,” said Eric Kunsman, a lecturer for the NTID visual communications studies program and an adjunct professor for SPAS.
Deborah Hughes, president and CEO of the Anthony Museum, 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, which is a national preservation district, right here in Rochester.”
Organizers are considering using re-enactors and other elements, according to Michael Peres, associate chair of SPAS and Big Shot team member.
Volunteers should arrive by 7:15 p.m. Parking is available at Data Vault Storage Services on King Street. 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 should bring either a flashlight or 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.