This was the scene looking South near my apartment on 24th St. and 6th Ave. Tower II had just been struck.
This was a common look on people's faces, one of calm stoicism masking fear and shock.
Further down 6th Ave. Regular Passersby talking rather calmly. At this point now one knew exactly what was happening.
It was such a beautiful early Fall day.
The was shot on 15th St. Though I had Prof. Stewart Stehlin's European History class at 9:30am and was proceeding downtown, there was no way I was attending class that day.
This guy just stared and stared.
Nobody knew what to think nor what do to. Tower II was still standing (so was Tower I of course, which fell second), and there was this plausibility that the morning's events were some kind of awful accident. You could maintain that plausibility only if you weren't watching CNN or one of the other news networks, replaying the impact of Tower II on a loop.
People were beginning to move with purpose.
This is close to W. 4th St. People who were at this position were just aimlessly fixated on the events transpiring before them. There was nothing you could do, nor anywhere to go (physically or mentally- there was no way you could divert your brain away from this if you were at the scene).
And then Tower II collapsed. A gentleman came up to me right after this photo was taken telling me they "got Sears Tower." Obviously that was false, nonetheless, the gasps and the panic set in right away, with the unavoidable, all too human, "mistruth mill" kicking away.
The dust cloud was way bigger than anyone on the ground expected.
Tower II has fallen at this point. I have walked further downtown and we are now looking at Tower I.
And then Tower I came crashing down.
It all happened so fast
Never before seen: From the archives
As I'm getting closer to releasing my book, I can't help but think about experiences I've had that have shaped the ultimate "product" of the book.
And when I think of my experience--I think about photography.
Photography was itself an experience; moreover, quite literally, it was the lens of my experience. I lugged around these cumbersome, beautiful things: Leica SL2's, and Pentax 67II's, and tons of actual 35mm film, and spools of 120 and 220 film, and nerdy lens cleaning gear, and a manifestly physical camera manual. Maybe all this gear (especially nonsensical to anyone who grew up snapping away from a cameraphone) slowed me down. But photography was itself a reason to get up earlier. Photography was a reason to stay up later. It was a reason to be patient. And also a reason to be aggressive because the "decisive moment" (a term Cartier-Bresson used) was nothing to be gentle with.
I remember a Vietnam Vet in L.A. absolutely furious at me after I offered him $1 to take his photo. Most of the time I would just snap away. This time I changed my tactic and it got my called a slew of colorful racial epithets. He was belligerent and chased after me in his wheelchair. I made it out unscathed. But unfortunately the photo didn't turn out so good.
Sure, there were awkward moments like that. But photography was such a wonderful reason to pay attention. Yes, the idea is to document things (especially because I was more about "reportage" i.e "first draft of history" stuff and not fine art inclined), but more importantly, it is to notice things--that is what really matters.
Photography helped me because it made me notice. Without photography I mightn't have picked up on things. I am eager to share my book--because I have something to say. Without photography I mightn't have picked up on the things that mattered, all the types of things that have a tendency to serendipitously come together to have meaning and give me cause to have something to say.
Over the coming weeks, I will be releasing some never before seen photos from my archives. And on that note, I give thanks this Thanksgiving to my parents, who facilitated my love of photography beginning at the age of 14. I give thanks to my two photography teachers: (the late) Mr. Laugel and Mr. O'Malley.