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Remember the Alamo? Boy, do I September 23, 2009

Posted by paulstella in Uncategorized.

Visitors to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, often approach their experience with great reverence to acknowledge the landmark’s unique place in American history. My last visit, in 2001, literally left me in tears, but not for reasons you might expect.

The Alamo Big Shot photo taken in March 2001.

The Alamo Big Shot photo taken in March 2001.

My experience was part of the ongoing Big Shot photography project. The Alamo was chosen to become the first site outside of New York to host this uniquely-RIT event, where a technique known as “painting with light” is used to create a spectacular nighttime image. Less than a year into my job at RIT, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel with the Big Shot team of faculty coordinators and student volunteers to help secure media coverage of the event.

Months of preparation went into creating my media strategy. It included outreach to various reporters and editors here in Rochester, throughout Texas and across the country. At one point, I was feeling confident of coverage on NBC’s Today show, but that eventually fell through.

Ultimately, my top priority was to make sure the final image got transmitted for use on that night’s news broadcasts or the following day’s publications. That included the Dallas Morning News, one of the top metropolitan daily newspapers in America. There was a lot on the line that night, and I was feeling the pressure.

Now, keep in mind, this is 2001. Transferring files via the Internet is hardly the slam dunk it’s become today. (Can you see where I’m going with this?) The connection that I had been assured was reliable kept cutting out. One attempt after another, but there was nothin’ doin’. Technical support at the hotel we were based looked for solutions. None of them worked. Everything I had planned simply unraveled.

So, yeah, I pretty much cried. It wasn’t like a fall-to-the-floor and make-an-embarrassing-scene kind of scenario, but I was clearly emotional. We would eventually go off site to deliver the image, but in most cases it was past deadline. Thankfully, some media outlets, including the Dallas newspaper, ran the photo in their following edition, so all was not lost.

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian hosts RIT’s 25th Big Shot.

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian hosts RIT’s 25th Big Shot.

So even though I take time to remember the Alamo, I now turn my attention to our nation’s capitol for this weekend’s 25th RIT Big Shot. The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian is this year’s subject, and it should make for quite a spectacle. I’ll be making the trip down to Washington with some of my colleagues from RIT’s Office of Alumni Relations.

Thankfully, technology has come a long way since 2001, so I’ll be documenting a lot of this weekend’s fanfare on Twitter—beginning with our departure from campus Saturday at 6 a.m. and right on through the 7:45 p.m. photo shoot in D.C. Follow my “tweets” @paulstella. Much of it will be retweeted @RITNews and @RIT_Alumni.

And, I promise, no tears—unless my Blackberry goes haywire.



1. Extended (photographic) exposures and lasting friendships « Stellavision - September 29, 2009

[…] years to bond with Bill DuBois, Dawn Tower DuBois and Michael Peres, particularly during the crazy antics that took place at the Alamo Big Shot in 2001.  Kelly has built a similar bond with the trio since assuming the media reigns in 2004. They are […]

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