Richards, Staff Photographer, The Record, Bergen County, NJ:
I thought a pilot of a private plane suffered a heart attack and
crashed into the World Trade Center. I never thought of a deliberate
act. As I was making my way down to the ferry terminal to try and
get to the scene, I heard about a second plane hitting the other
tower. That thought was just too hard to believe, and I switched
radio stations thinking it was a mistake. Then I saw the skyline.....
I was stuck in traffic trying to get to Weehawken and all I could
do was pray. The hardest thing for me was the frustration of not
being able to get into the city and keeping my emotions in check
as the day's events unfolded. I saw how stunned people were coming
off the ferry and even today, almost two weeks later, it is still
so hard to comprehend the magnitude of it.
The most poignant image I remember is from the next day, a pedestrian
bridge facing the smoldering remains of the towers. Someone had
written "God Bless" in the dust and ash on the railing
of the bridge. I think that's when everything started to sink in
for me. I can only hope that we emerge stronger and braver as a
result of all this, and that those who died didn't do so in vain.
On September 11th, I piled into my boat since the Brooklyn Bridge
was shut down. I"ve been photographing the waterfront and use
the water as a road more than most New Yorkers; so, thanks to the
docks at North Cove, I was able to get quickly into Ground Zero.
After several hours working, my professional concentration got a
wake-up shock. I saw a firetruck silhouetted against smoke, its
unattended roof hose belching water, a dark mass of firemen shapes
rushing below. I got that photojournalist rush of knowing I had
a visual, a moment, and began to work it. Then I saw the truck name
"Happy Hookers" and realized it was my local Red Hook
I asked nearby firemen "Are you from Red Hook? Are you from
Red Hook." Glum "no's" all said; "the truck
is here, but no men." I left the scene knowing I had excellent
film but saddened thinking all my local firemen were lost. I have
since learned that my neighborhood lost 15 firemen and have decided
to donate a share of my sales to FDNY relief funds. During my years
of foreign work, it was often hard to know whether reportage helped
or whether it should be about that, hard to know how to help if
one wanted to; but now, here it is very different. Our photo subjects
are us and the ways to donate are clear. I hope all photographers
and media outlets that profit from sales donate to relief funds.
Seidman, Freelance, New York Post
On Tuesday morning, September 11, my editor at the New York Post
paged me, saying a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.
By the time I got there, the second plane had struck and lower Manhattan
was chaotic. People were all over the sidewalks, watching in shock.
I was shooting on Broadway near Fulton St. when the first tower
collapsed. This huge rolling avalanche of dust and debris came towards
me, and everyone was running away. My first thought was, "should
I stay or run?" Then I instinctively ran from the dust ball
because I could not breathe. I feared the other tower might collapse,
so I covered the exodus of people, rather than going back closer.
The conflict of whether I should have gone back or not has haunted
me all week.
Stapleton, Freelance, New York:
On the third night after the attack on World Trade Center, I came
home to my pregnant wife lying comfortably asleep. I had seen her
a total of 3 hours in three days, and just being in her presence
gave me a sense of tranquility. I lay down thinking I could go to
sleep from exhaustion, but instead found myself an emotional wreck,
crying my eyes out. I could not get the picture of Father Judge
out of my mind, and the sirens from ringing in my ears. I did not
even know that the photo I had taken was Father Judge until Thursday,
when one of the newspapers identified him.
On Friday I received a faxed letter at the Reuters office, from
the family of Father Mychal Judge, Chaplain of the FDNY. The letter
thanked me for such a "compassionate" photo and went on
to say " that photograph has given a sense of relief and has
let us know that he died doing what he loved best, helping his beloved
firemen and citizens of New York City. In addition, the photo helps
us deal with the hurt and pain that the terrorists inflicted not
only on our family, but our entire country." I still get choked
up and hold back tears knowing that a photo could make such a positive
impact on such a horrific event.