In what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind image, Tryon Street will be photographed Saturday by 150 volunteers strung along its milelong uptown axis to make a panoramic shot.
“Photo-bombing” (hamming it up for the camera) will be permitted, if not encouraged, says the shoot’s organizer.
“I imagine people holding signs or a theater group doing its thing,” says Sean Busher, a Charlotte commercial photographer coordinating the unusual photographic safari into uptown’s business core.
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Called “Moment Mile, the Ultimate Panorama,” the project is part of the renaissance of the Light Factory, Charlotte’s museum of film and photography that was hobbled a year ago by financial problems.
Organized in 1972 and one of four nonprofit museums in the nation focusing entirely on photography and film, the Light Factory has reorganized and moved from its longtime uptown home at Spirit Square to the old Midwood School at 1817 Central Ave.
Busher, a Light Factory board member, says he believes the picture – to be made from 150 frames shot by people standing 44 feet apart along the 15-block stretch lassoed by the I-277 loop – will be unlike anything tried before.
“I’ve never heard of anybody else ever doing anything quite like this,” says Busher, 35, a commercial photographer since 2001 who set his sights on his career path as a ninth-grader.
Phil Moody, who teaches photography at Winthrop University in Rock Hill and also serves on the Light Factory board, says that Guinness World Records was contacted to see whether it knew of anything like the Tryon Street project.
“There isn’t anything of its length and proportion as a panoramic,” he says. “I think it is unique in that regard.”
Moody says that the technology to easily stitch together so many images in a single line has only existed since the evolution of Photoshop, a computer image-editing program pioneered in the late 1980s.
Plan for the snap
Already about 100 photographers, many of them amateurs or hobbyists, have volunteered to be part of Saturday’s shoot and Busher expects to recruit 50 more this week.
Busher has been working on logistics for months. With the help of a $10,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and support from the Light Factory and others, he has put together a minute-by-minute plan for the shoot.
At 5 p.m., photographers will gather at a yet-to-be-determined spot for a briefing and to get their location assignments. They will be instructed on how to shoot their territory and to stand on public sidewalks.
Each will be given a frame shot earlier from their intended location so they will know what to take a picture of. Mostly, half the paved street and the bottom two stories of buildings will be in their frames.
At exactly 6:15 p.m., shutters will snap. Whatever is before them will be frozen in time, a still life of a vibrant district circa 2014.
Then the volunteers will cross Tryon Street. At 6:20 p.m., they will shoot the street’s opposite profile.
Then they will head for a pizza party to dump their digital images and celebrate the moment. Busher is talking to the Mellow Mushroom on Church Street about hosting the event.
Rain plan? Don’t ask. He hasn’t got one.
And the light? Should be perfect. Shot one goes off 14 minutes before sunset.
See what develops
When the picture is developed, printed and mounted, it will measure 100 feet long and about 4 1/2 inches high. There aren’t many gallery spaces in town that can handle something like that, but the Arts & Science Council is working on finding a space. It will be a gift to the city from the reborn Light Factory. There’s no timetable at the moment for when the photos will be displayed.
“We think this is a wonderful idea to capture the life of the city in a moment,” says Moira Quinn, chief operating officer for Charlotte Center City Partners. “We just think it’s such a unique idea.”
It reminds her of the photography projects built around a 24-hour clock inspired by the 1986 book “A Day in the Life of America.” “Sean takes that concept and turns it on its ear – this is a long area over one moment,” Quinn says. “We love the concept.”
Uptown on Saturday night will be gearing up for a 7 p.m. game between the Grizzlies and the Hornets, a number of theater productions and normal dinner traffic when the picture is shot.
And lurking, mischievous photo-bombers.
“A couple photographers have told me they’ve got something up their sleeves,” Busher says. “I think it’ll be fun to see what we get.”