A woman wipes her eye during a visit to one of the makeshift 911 memorials.
Emotion - a visceral response.
I watched in horror as the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers unfolded on the television. I remember telling my wife that I thought I would be traveling into the city for some sort of photographic coverage. A few hours later, myself and other members of a media team headed out with the goal of arriving in the city by the next morning.
Arriving in the city after our all night drive from Georgia was a surreal experience. Gone was the traditional view of the once majestic NYC skyline and in its place was a smoldering fire billowing out from a void in the skyline. We settled in miles away and yet could still smell the the fire. NYC had also become a no fly zone and the overhead skies were uncharacteristically quiet and free of aircraft.
I took this shot of the NYC skyline a few years before the 911 attacks. It was
originally shot on film and later scanned into the computer.
Smoke billows from the area where the Twin Towers once stood.
A crowd gathers around a flattened car that was brought out on a truck.
My next assignment became to tell the story of what was happening in the city. I knew how important it was to remain calm inside but also knew how important it was to connect with what I saw. My main objective for the first day was to remain awake, get my shots and transmit the photos for distribution through Baptist Press. After being up nearly 40 hours I was able to finish transmitting the last of the first day's worth of pictures. I was exhausted and we had only just begun.
Over the course of the next several days I visited makeshift memorials and one of the Fire Houses (Engine 54), Battalion 9, that had lost so many of it's men. Plastered all over the city were copies of photos of missing family members and loved ones that had been in the Towers at the time of the attacks. Many of the photos were hard to take but I also knew from years of being a photojournalist that emotion was a key element needed to convey the impact to the viewer.
Photos of 15 firemen from Engine 54, Battalion 9 who lost their lives.
Emotion is a powerful thing and many of us can experience different emotions after viewing the same image. Emotion does not necessarily have to be present in a photo for someone to experience emotional feelings. For example - the photo of the "intact" NYC skyline that I took just a few years before the September 11 attacks may evoke certain emotions in the viewer that another photo of the grieving couple at one of the memorial for the victims may not. Emotion tends to be "visceral" in nature in that we really don't have to think about something too much for those feelings associated with a situation to well up inside of us.
This shot was taken through the side window of a van showing a half - mast flag with the Empire State Building in the background.
As much as I love to take "pretty" pictures of things I also know how impacting images can be that have a strong emotional element to them. Many times it is difficult to connect with our own emotions when we have a camera in front of our face. For this reason it's best to challenge ourselves and try and capture those shots that exhibit "feeeling." Those "feelings" can include joy, peace, happiness, sadness, humor, frustration, contentment, jubilation, solitude, isolation, pride, anger, awe, shock, love, nostalgia, etc.
A couple comfort each other at one of the make shift memorials in the city.
To wrap things up - as we get more in touch with our own feelings we will become more aware of others' feelings and the strength that capturing and conveying emotion in our photographs brings to the viewer.
A woman is overcome with emotion at one of the candle lit memorials.
I took this from the base of the Twin Towers. Originally shot on film and later scanned into the computer.
All digital images shot on Nikon D1X, film images shot on Nikon F100