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RIT Big Shot Project collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: RITArc-0178

Scope and Contents

The RIT Big Shot Project collection includes photographs, negatives, event invitations, publications, planning documents, correspondence, assorted memorabilia, and related material. The photographs and negatives consist of images captured during various Big Shot events. Additionally, there are copies of articles highlighting RIT's Big Shot project such as a articles in Studio Photography & Design, Focus on Imaging, and the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, as well as the RIT University New and RIT News & Events.

The planning documents in the collection include correspondence, reports, travel arrangements, print requests, and other related materials. There are also various pieces of memorabilia such as event invitations, a t-shirt, and a flashlight. There are also framed photographs from fourteen Big Shot events. Overall, the collection includes materials from most aspects of the project, from the planning phases to the final product.

Additions to the collection in 2022 include materials used in "The RIT Big Shot 35 Years of Painting with Light" exhibit in the University Gallery in 2022.


  • Creation: 1987-2022

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

The Rochester Institute of Technology's (RIT) Big Shot Project started in 1987. Two professors in the university's School of Photographic Arts and Sciences, William DuBois and Michael Peres, started the project as a way to teach electronic flash photography to students in the Biomedical Photography program. Inspired by the Sylvania Corporation's "Big Shot" project from the 1950s, the two instructors set about planning a similar event in the Rochester area. Highland Hospital in the city of Rochester was chosen as the first subject. On December 4, 1987, students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered to watch the project unfold. The black-and-white photograph was captured by a single 4x5 camera after the sunset. Approximately 34 individuals held electronic flash units to help illuminate the structure. The timed exposure was created over time by leaving the shutter open, rather than through a single discharge. The result was that the featured structure was "painted with light" despite the surrounding darkness.

As of 2011, the Big Shot was still a tradition at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Every year, members of the community are invited to view the project as it unfolds. The 26th annual Big Shot event was held in May 2011 at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY. For more information, please see the complete list of Big Shot subjects and dates below (current as of June 2011).

01 Highland Hospital, Rochester, NY 04 Dec. 1987

02 George Eastman House, Rochester, NY 10 Dec. 1988

03 Park Ridge Hospital, Rochester, NY 09 Dec. 1989

04 Frank E. Gannett Building (RIT), Henrietta, NY 08 Dec. 1990

05 Wilmot Library (Nazareth College), Pittsford, NY 07 Dec. 1991

06 Rundell Memorial Library, Rochester, NY 13 Dec. 1992

07 Rochester Museum and Science Center, Rochester, NY 05 Dec.1993

08 Rochester Institute of Technology campus, Henrietta, NY 26 Jan. 1995

09 Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, NY 13 Dec. 1995

10 Silver Stadium, Rochester, NY 09 Oct. 1996

11 Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies (RIT), Henrietta, NY 03 April 1997

12 Brown's Race/High Falls, Rochester, NY 08 Dec. 1997

13 Ontario County Courthouse, Canandaigua, NY 10 Dec. 1998

14 Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, New York, NY 28 Oct. 1999

15 Rochester Liberty Pole Rochester, NY 02 Dec. 2000

16 The Alamo San Antonio, TX 10 March 2001

17 Genesee Country Village Museum,, Mumford, NY 06 Oct. 2001

18 Rochester Human Flag/Frontier Field, Rochester, NY 11 Nov. 2001

19 Infinity Quad (RIT), Henrietta, NY 07 Nov. 2002

20 The Royal Palace, Stockholm, Sweden 09 Oct. 2003

21 Sentinel Sculpture and Administration Circle (RIT), Henrietta, NY 12 Sept. 2004

22 Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 01 May 2006

23 Pile Gate Dubrovnik, Croatia 12 April 2007

24 Erie Canal & Schoen Place, Pittsford, NY 08 May 2008

25 Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC 26 Sept. 2009

26 Strong National Museum of Play, Rochester, NY 05 May 2011

27 Seabreeze Amusement Park, Rochester, NY 03 May 2012

28 Dallas Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX 23 May 2013

29 High Falls Rochester, NY 09 Feb. 2014

30 Golisano Institute, Rochester, NY 06 Sept. 2014

31 Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY 03 Oct. 2015

32 Kodak Tower, Rochester, NY 18 Sept. 2016

33 Old Fort Niagara, 29 Sept. 2018

34 Wallace On Ice (RIT), Henrietta, NY 2 April 2022


10.5 Linear Feet (4 document box, 2 photo boxes, 4 file boxes, 1 oversized flat box, 14 framed photographs,)




Materials related to RIT's Big Shot Project, a nighttime community photography project started in 1987 and designed to teach students about electronic flash photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The collection includes photographs, negatives, event invitations, publications, planning documents, correspondence, assorted memorabilia, related material and posters.


Materials are arranged in chronological order. The four videotapes are housed at the end of the collection.

Other Finding Aids

In addition to this finding aid, an inventory is available below. For more information, please contact the RIT Archive Collections.

RIT Big Shot Project collection

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 07:61; 08:26; 08:33; 10:28; 11:64; 14:073; 15:003 The collection was given to the RIT Archive Collections by Michael R. Peres, a professor in RIT's School of Photographic Arts and Sciences.

Related Materials

The official site for the RIT Big Shot Project contains information on the project's history, as well as digital copies of many of the project's images.

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Lara Nicosia in June 2011.

RIT Big Shot Project collection
RIT Archives
Lara Nicosia
07 June 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA