PHOTOGRAPHER GULNARA SAMOILOVA
Samoilova from Bashkortostan, Russia, worked in AP library, not
as a photographer, so she could sleep late and start late. But
the sirens: “It just went on and on and on.” Her apartment was
four blocks from the WTC. One glance at the TV and she grabbed her
camera and a handful of film, and ran to the South Tower. The
scene was too chaotic to shoot. Back outside, right beneath the
South Tower, its smoking bulk filled her 85mm lens. She saw the
tower begin to crumble and got off one more shot before someone nearby
The force of the collapse “was like a
mini-earthquake,” knocking her off her feet. People began trampling
her, with the debris cloud not far behind. "I was afraid I would die
right there,” the 46-year-old photographer says. She got up just as the
cloud was about to envelop her. She dove behind a car and crouched.
Like “a strong wind,” the storm of debris rocked the car, filling her
eyes, mouth, nose and ears.
It was very dark and silent,” she says. “I thought I was buried alive.”
she could hear the fluttering of thousands of pieces of paper.
Blown out as each floor collapsed, blowing out the windows, they
settled last. Her sight returned. She had survived. She changed film
and lenses (telephoto to normal). As she looked down Fulton
Street, other survivors began limping out of the mist. She stepped out
from behind the car and began shooting.
In the most powerful
image from that sequence, a line of about a dozen people fills the
frame. One man holds a jacket over his mouth, while the woman next to
him tries to brush debris out of her hair. "I love that photo,”
Samoilova says. “To me, it looks like a sculpture. Like, frozen.”
She was shooting in black and white. People have asked her if she
wishes that photo had been in color. “It wouldn’t matter even,”
she replies. “They were all covered in dust the gray dust.”
the library her job involved cataloging and filing 911 photos that
poured into the Associated Press. "I was crying almost daily.”
It became too much. Samoilova was able to leave the AP
2003, start her own studio
and choose different subject matter. “I love weddings,” she says.
“I get to be part of the happiest days of people’s lives.”
(Other photographers' stories are here
Photos: Medical treatment on street, Gulnara Samoilova
building lobby in yellow light, Stan Honda
People flee uptown as debris clouds sweep across Lower Manhattan, Amy
There was not often need for medical treatment, only gene
technology to identify pieces.
Center: Marcy Borders was a month into her new Bank of
America job on Sept. 11, 2001, when a hijacked plane hit the
north tower where she worked.
Panicked, she ignored a
boss' order to stay at her desk and fled out to
the street. She was paralyzed by what she saw.
"There were wounded and the injured" everywhere, she said.
Then the South Tower collapsed. "I couldn't see my hand in front of my
face. The world went silent," she said.
A stranger pulled her to safety in another building lobby --
where a AFP photographer Stan Honda snapped the ghostly picture.
In the South Tower, people had a close-up view of people plunging to their deaths
from a building that was a mirror image of their own. "I looked at a
couple of people jumping, and that was it. I'd seen enough. I said, 'We've got to get the hell out of
here,' " says Jaede Barg, who worked for Aon on the south
tower's 100th floor.
Click photo to enlarge. Suzanne
- AP. (Great photo, Suzanne!!)
just froze and started taking pictures before I turned and ran, too. As
I was running, the thing that kept going through my mind was, How on
earth am I going to outrun a one hundred-story building toppling in my
direction? I phoned my family, leaving what my dad calls a very
disturbing message full of 'I love yous' and 'goodbyes.'"
man wearing the backpack in the photograph contacted me a few years
ago. I had always wondered who he was, and I was really relieved
he was OK. He told me that he donated the backpack, ID badge and
wristwatch that he was wearing in the photograph to a museum in New
Click photo to enlarge. Photo: Daniel
NY Fire Department dispatch tapes: "Everything south of the Brooklyn
Bridge is in a dust cloud. There's no visibility. People all over the
streets. Travel is near impossible."
. . .
Photos: (left, New York) David Duprey-AP; (right, Maryland) Kim Harris.
all transfixed at the sight of jumbo jetliners being flown into
buildings. That day, I collected
pictures like that, trying to understand the unbelievable.
images I never want to see again as long as I live are the little ones
above, saying that my
cities are gone, the society is shutting down, the lights are going
the Washington DC metro area, a sign on the Baltimore-Washington
Expressway Rt. 95 announces that Baltimore-Washington International airport has shut down.
The NY and NJ Port Authority ordered all local bridge and
tunnel Variable Message Signs (VMS signs), for example, on
the George Washington Bridge, to flash CLOSED at 9:12 AM. It
wasn't until 11 AM that the VMS signs on all highways leading
into the city flashed "NEW YORK CITY CLOSED TO ALL TRAFFIC." This
sign is in the Buffalo area
on the NY State Thruway, upstate where photographer David Duprey works.
you, Dan Leonard, for finding this photo again after I lost it, and
before it nearly disappeared completely from the Internet. The
photo makes a cameo appearance in "Attack on America", a Shockwave
Flash video watched by millions. STEVE GOLDING'S VIDEO
"ATTACK on AMERICA
" (soundtrack Enya "Only Time")
(Don't go to youtube -- there are so many copycat fakes, you could never find an original.)
Golding went to work in the financial district, saw the 2nd (South)
Tower explode with his own eyes, lost friends in the attack, and
started constructing his animated album of 9/11 pictures while people
were still shocked and feelings ran high. Not surprisingly,
he produced an emotional work filled with pain and the desire for
revenge, as well as hope and the promise to rebuild. Ten years
older, the nation stands in a different place:
thought we would solve the problem by attacking a state,
Afghanistan. But the attackers were stateless, and they slip
into failed states that do not detect or deter them.
We thought terrorism was a problem you could solve by killing
something. There's some truth in that (Bin Laden), as long as you
don't overdo it (a few hundred thousand civilian deaths). But
terrorism is also a method used by political extremists driven by
ideology. So you have to fight ideas as well as be strong
militarily. What would Thomas Jefferson say now?
Responding to a vicious assault by attacking your core values shows no
respect for your Founding Fathers.
2001: Our leaders
would be firm shields as we helped one another recover. But our
leaders misled those who helped, refused ever to accept responsibility
for first responders' damaged health, refused for years to pay
for treating it, and still deny cancer coverage. The
financial district itself recovered only to bring us Credit Default
Swaps, Collateralized Debt Obligations, subprime mortgages, and
an economy too weak to drive a fast recovery at Ground Zero or anywhere
2001: We would win the war on terrorism.
Today this slogan has taken its place with Winning the War on
Poverty, Winning the War on Drugs. After we Win the War on Human
Nature, the rest will fall into line.
Leading the people
to achieve what they wish for unites the country in pride. Steve,
we still stand there beside you, united in wishing for the same
Photo: Tim Krochak/Canadian Press - AP.
grounds all US aircraft and orders foreign flights diverted to Canada
US flights already airborne are told 3 minutes later to land at the
Photo: Stranded international travelers bed down in Halifax,
NS, Canada at Exhibition Park.
Shearwater Naval Air Station.
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA.
of Delta flight 777 from London Gatwick, England, to Atlanta, Georgia:
and gentlemen, I have some terrible news. The Pentagon and
two World Trade Center towers have been hit by terrorists who've
apparently hijacked four commercial jets. The two towers have
collapsed and are no more." A moment's
silence . . . "We
have been diverted to Halifax, Nova Scotia. All airspace in
America has been closed."
Before it was over, 42 planes
were parked cheek to jowl down a Halifax International
runway, and 9,080 unanticipated guests had climbed off (the Red Cross
tallied 8,666 in their care). 800 Halifax
by this facility to offer their homes for overnights stays or just
to take showers and simply relax.
was en route from Milan to New York: "Bless the good people
Halifax who did not sleep, who took strangers into their homes, who
opened their hearts and shelters, who rushed in enough food and
clothing to supply an army, who offered tours of their beautiful city
and, above all, who listened with a simple empathy ... I
not a single harsh word, saw not the slightest gesture of frustration,
and felt nothing but pure and honest welcome... We, 9,000 strong, are
forever in your debt, .... we will always share this bond of your
unstinting hospitality to people who descended upon you as frightened
strangers, and received nothing but solace and solidarity in your
embrace of goodness... "
Photo: (left) Toshiyuki Aizawa; (right) Pat
9/11 ripples: total ID Check at US Naval Base, Yokosuka ,
Stewardess now grounded at Albuquerque's Sunport Airport tries to place
cell phone call -- colleagues, family?