Back to War, At Home"
By Dirck Halstead
Over the past two
decades, photojournalist David Turnley has found himself on many battlefronts
around the world. From South Africa, to Kosovo, to the Gulf War, he
has learned the survival skills that have allowed him to negotiate these
dangerous areas, and still take prize-winning photographs.
A graduate of the 1999 Platypus Workshop, for past year David has hung
up his cameras to become the Director of Corbis Documentaries. On September
11th, he was supposed to be putting the finishing touches on a theatrical
documentary he had done on Cuban musicians.
the flames erupt from the towers from his home on 10th street, he immediately
reverted to his still photojournalism instincts. "I went into auto
pilot," David recalled, "I was right back in a war zone, but
[with] the sensation of being in my backyard. Seeing the familiar shock
on people's faces, I knew something very ominous was happening."
Running down 6th Avenue, he heard a second plane pass overhead. It was
moving so fast that it sounded to him like a warplane, and then it smashed
into the second tower. He was three blocks from Ground Zero, photographing
the conflagration when the first tower started to crumble.
"I have been in the midst of shells landing in Chechnya and Grozny,
and I have been in the shelling in Bosnia, and the sound was very familiar,"
said Turnley, "but what was unfamiliar was the incredible sensation
of seeing 110 stories falling in front of me...the impact and the ominous
sensation of the size of these things, and then the abstract idea there
were human beings in them."
In the smoke and darkness, he photographed firemen trying to save people
in the rubble. He followed one fireman for nearly an hour as he tried
to pry away the wreckage. The fireman finally slumped to the ground,
covering his face with his hands, and started to sob, "Oh, if only
I could do my job, but there is nobody to find."
There was another big difference for David in covering this new battleground.
For the first time in his life, people were speaking English. Unlike
all the foreign stories he had covered, this time, he could actually
understand what people were saying. This processing of information added
to the shock.
In the following presentation, we take you with David as he enters the
David Turnley's Photo Gallery