Voices From Behind the Lens - Ground Zero

Mary Altaffer, Freelance Photographer, NYC
It's hard for me to put into words my experience on 9/11/01. There are parts of the day I can't remember, I look at my negatives and see images I don't remember making, I talked to people at the scene I don't remember seeing. The only thing I remember clearly is the sound of the jumpers hitting the ground. There were too many of them; it was overwhelming. I didn't remember this woman until I looked at my negatives closely. She was making her way into Battery Park City after the first explosion and collapse, trying to get to her apartment where her two kids were. What I'm trying to do now is to concentrate on the acts of kindness I saw like these two police officers who very gently aided her.

James W. Anness, Staff Photographer, The Record (Bergen County, NJ):
We watched the towers collapse from Jersey City and all of us just had a collective gasp as if the air was sucked out of us. There were about 40 of us and we all did the same thing, and then tears just started to come out. The collective sadness and silence was almost deafening... knowing the amount of people who just perished.


Michael Bonfigli:
It didn't really sink in until Friday Sept. 14 when Bush declared a day of remembrance and prayer. He gathered with other dignitaries and religious leaders from all faiths. People who did not get tickets to enter the National Cathedral stood along Wisconsin Avenue in Washington DC, some hugging each other, some still in shock about Tuesday's attacks, and some waving American flags. At the end of the ceremony bells were ringing in the air. Just as the presidential motorcade came through people started to clap and directly in front of me a young man in full uniform gave a full salute to the Present. I photographed him from behind as my eyes began to fill with tears; a moment later a woman put her hand on my back and whispered "that will be a beautiful photo". I wiped the tears from my eyes and thanked her and continued to photograph.

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