The Big Picture

On Friday, September 5, at 3:45 p.m. the Allegheny College community – students, faculty and staff – will gather together at Brooks Circle for a truly historic photo, what we’re calling “The Big Picture.”

The Plan

The plan is to create a mural-sized commemorative photo of the Allegheny College community at this point in our history. Even though we hope for a crowd of 2,500 people, photographer Bill Owen ’74 plans to capture an image in which virtually every one of us will be clearly recognizable. (Students: Remember what it was like for the freshman class photo? Now imagine it x5.)

It’s an ambitious project—and the technical considerations are daunting—but if we can pull it off, it will be an extraordinary piece of history.

To get the elevation we need for Bill to take the photo, the Meadville Fire Department will be on hand to lend us their ladder truck. The photo itself won’t take much time, perhaps 20 minutes to get us organized and to take photos. We’ll make the event fun, and every student who attends will get a Bicentennial T-shirt.

The Bicentennial Committee has discussed a number of ideas for what to do with the photo, including creating a mural. We hope also to share it widely with our community, including in Allegheny magazine and other venues. (And we expect the photo to be an artifact of great historical interest at the College’s Tricentennial in 2115.)


  • Please plan to arrive no later than 3:45 p.m. on Friday, September 5. Feel free to come early.
  • Our rain date is September 12. If it looks like rain on September 5, we’ll make the call by noon and let the campus community know.
  • If you plan to be photographed with a group of friends, a campus organization, an athletic team or another group, please plan to meet at a spot elsewhere on campus and then walk to Brooks Circle together. It will be nearly impossible to find people once you arrive at Brooks.
  • If your group is meeting to walk to Brooks Circle together and members of your group are late, please do not wait for them. It’s important you get to Brooks Circle at 3:45 p.m. Otherwise, your entire group may miss the Big Picture.
  • To get the detail he needs for this photo, photographer Bill Owen plans to take photos of a section of the crowd at a time, then weave the photos together for the “Big Picture.” This process of taking sectional photos will take maybe five minutes, but we ask you to keep your attention focused on the photographer during that time.
  • T-shirts will be available to students immediately after the Big Picture. Look for the T-shirt station for your class. And make sure to bring your ID in order to get your shirt.
  • Speaking of T-shirts, the College Bookstore has a 20 percent discount on Bicentennial clothing. If you’d like to be photographed wearing Bicentennial gear, there’s no better time to buy.
  • The Meadville Fire Department will be on campus at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 4 for a “dress rehearsal.” There’s no need for us to gather for a photo on Thursday – this is more to test the technical stuff — but if you’re in the area of Brooks at that time, do feel free to smile for the camera.

Helpful Tips

  • If you’re in a group and would all like to dress as a group – such as wearing organization T-shirts or team uniforms — please feel free.
  • But please do not wear anything, such as a big hat, that is likely to obscure the person standing behind you. (Also remember that if you wear a baseball cap or sunglasses, we won’t be able to see your face in the photo.)
  • Please do not bring signs to the Big Picture. We want everyone in the photo to be clearly visible.