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  • Writer's pictureMollye Miller

#6 Magnificent Marching Machine

Updated: Jan 3, 2023

#6: Morgan State University Marching Band

As part of the event coverage for Visit Baltimore's Hospitality Summit, I photographed the Morgan State University Marching Band. Visit Baltimore partnered with Baltimore City Public Schools to showcase the many illustrious colleges, programs and vocational training and careers available to Baltimore high school grads.*

I'm choosing this photoshoot for #6 in my favorite photoshoots of 2022 because it was the first time I'd photo'd an indoor musical and dancing event.

The Morgan State University Marching Band, aka the Magnificent Marching Machine #magnificentmarchingmachine (or "M3" for short) is one of the best marching bands in the country. I didn't know it that morning, showing up toting a coffee mug shaped like a camera lens with bags hanging off my arms and having not had the best sleep the night before.

I walked around the room meeting neat Baltimore leaders from schools and the university and other Baltimore spots. The band began gathering on the stairs as soon as students started to arrive from area schools. Right on cue as the first set of students opened the doors to enter the Business School's mail hall, the music started. And with the music, dancing. And the idea of sleep, even the memory of it, left me entirely.

I'm a big lover of music and dancing and for me they are one and the same. If I hear a song with a strong beat and heart behind that beat (a heartbeat of its own) then I must move my body. So believe me that these pictures were all taken with me dancing or at least swaying because the music is GOOD.

It's odd to show this in still pictures because the inclination is to turn on video. I did that I included it here. But it's important to me that I pause the music so you can see the people. The student with long pink nails making the trumpet sing. One of the players speaking to the crowd. I want you to see the steadiness of the dancer clapping before she picks up her flag to dance with it.

I think what I learned from this shoot was just to have fun with it. To get into whatever's going on and shoot what's interesting to me. Of course I was on an assignment and the storytelling was the most important part. But I needed to also be alive to what was happening.

That presence is important in general but especially for an artist and especially photographers and poets who need to stay mindful of place and time and light and movement to be able to share in and perceive everything happening all at once.

In each corner a note, a gesture, a crescendo of some feeling or another. A detail, like the students's nails, I'll admit, is one I noticed only in looking at my pictures after the shoot. That's another gift if in photography and video - we get to see what we missed later.

*Morgan State is known for their hospitality program and culinary school so students got to see firsthand the classrooms and courses available and hear from current students.

*Mia Blom (in the main headline image and vertical image) directed this whole program. She's Visit Baltimore's Director of Government & Community Affairs/Executive Director Visit Baltimore Education & Training Foundation. Mia manages all civic and community engagement efforts and works to identify recovery programs and/or assistance opportunities for Baltimore’s tourism related businesses. She's also simply and profoundly an inspiring person...and all around wonderful person to meet and know.

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