Photography and September 11

Memories of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, will never leave me. The loss of life suffered and the attacks in NY, DC, and Pennsylvania where I have family and friends. I will also remember being in Los Angeles for work, and driving back home in the rental car with a friend and colleague who was also a new mom. We made it home to the DC area for our kids birthdays on September 16 and 18. But, sometimes there are silver lining moments that result from even the most awful events. My professional life as a curator of photography also changed forever after the attacks. I knew right away that digital photographs were representing September 11th history in real time as I looked for hours at the internet in the aftermath of the attacks and over the next days and weeks. As 2001 ended, I reached out to many photographers, including the wife of photographer Bill Biggart who was the only photographer killed at Ground Zero. Many of the photographers I followed in newspapers and online would eventually donate their work to the Smithsonian. Several I now consider friends and remain in contact today. The world photography community changed forever after September 11th, there was no going back from digital. It was here to stay. Kodak and Polaroid went bankrupt, and an industry that for more than 100 years was thriving changed overnight. Smart phones and selfies now take the place of many camera models and provide instant selfies and the opportunity to edit or delete in a second your album in the cloud. Mind you, I wouldn't want anything different for photography or for myself. The friends and colleagues I made in studying and collecting for September 11th and its aftermath have impacted me profoundly for the best. I cherish these relationships, and look forward to whatever is next for these talented photographers, their families, and their work. It was gratifying also to see so many of these men and women represented through there images in the the September 11th Museum at Ground Zero. We will never forget because of these photographs and the amazing determination of the photographers, professional and amateur, to capture the moments during and after September 11, bearing witness and history forever. Thank you all.

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Stories of September 11