Photographers' Blog

A piece of the past with the present

New York City, NY

By Shannon Stapleton

Every time I have to cover a story related to the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center I always hope that I will be able to forget that day and the so many lives affected by the tragedy.

Today was not different. It’s a beautiful spring day and being down near the Ground Zero site was probably the last place I wanted to be. But covering one of the last pieces being hoisted onto One World Trade Center did provide a glimmer of closure.

It’s taken way too long but the site is being transformed into more of a place of remembrance – a place, at least for me, that I can go near and not be totally engulfed by the memories of what I saw and what happened on that tragic day.

While walking around downtown to find spot to show the hoisting, I found a mural honoring those that were lost. Putting that in the same frame of the spire being lifted I thought would say a lot: a piece of the past with that of the present.

As I made frames I noticed people stopped taking photos of that last piece being hoisted. And I even saw some people smiling as they looked up: closure for some, maybe, and for others maybe not.

An office with a view

By Lucas Jackson

Everyone knows that moving into an office with a view is a sure sign of status at your job. If it’s a corner office with a view in two different directions you have managed to place yourself within the upper rungs of the corporate ladder. If your office has a 360 degree view of the financial capital of the world, New York City, you must be a legend. Or, you could be an ironworker putting together the iron skeleton of the new One World Trade in downtown Manhattan.

One World Trade, previously known as the Freedom Tower, has in the last several years quietly grown taller and taller. Today it stands a few stories below being the tallest building in New York City. It is still rising too, at a rather rapid rate and after visiting the top floor I met first hand the group of dedicated ironworkers who are piecing it together, one bolt at a time.

Their commute to work is as vertical as ours is horizontal. Because the interior of the building is not yet finished, the quickest way to get to their workplace is via several different elevator systems and a couple of steel ladders. One external freight elevator (running express for the beginning of the daily shift and at lunch hours) took us to the 39th floor where one must catch another elevator that took us to within a couple stories of the top of the building. In this case it took us to roughly the 90th floor. Here we left the elevators behind and took two open steel ladders to the 92nd and 93rd floors where the steel skeleton of this building is being installed whenever the weather allows. One of these ladders is two stories tall and a little bit wobbly, it was climbing this ladder that I realized I am glad that I’m not afraid of heights.

Why they fight

Photographer Nikola Solic recently spent time with U.S. soldiers at Forward Operating Base Bostick in eastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan. In addition to capturing a selection of images of life at the base and surrounding observation posts, Solic spent time discussing with them the war on terror, the legacy of September 11th, and how these men and women define their mission ten years after the towers fell. Among them was First Leiutenant Edward Bachar from Freehold, New Jersey.

Untitled from Corinne Perkins on Vimeo.

9/11: Ten years later

On September 11, 2001, four hijacked planes were used to carry out attacks on the United States. Two planes hit New York City’s World Trade Center, a third plunged into the Pentagon, and the fourth crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after an attempt was made by passengers to regain control. In total 2,992 people were killed.

Shannon Stapleton, who took one of the defining images of the attacks, recounts covering New York city over ten years in a Full Focus Photographer Notebook entry

Jason Reed and Larry Downing document one mother’s story of loss in Five years with Justin

Inside the NYPD’s counter terrorism unit

When our photo staff began to plan for the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, it was difficult to know where coverage should begin. The first story that came to mind is how Ground Zero has changed. It has been remarkable to watch the buildings being constructed. Not only have we seen them rise above ground level, but slowly surpass the height of every other building in lower Manhattan. Colleagues of mine have done a wonderful job of documenting the evolution of the site and the reactions of those around it, but while that might be the most obvious story to tell, it was not the most profound change that I feel has taken place in New York since the attacks. For me, the most significant modification is that security has become omnipresent in the city.

Security has emerged as a fact of life here. When we fly we have to take off our shoes and throw away our water bottles. Every commercial building in New York has a security team and identification is required to get to work. The speakers in the subway system continually remind us that “if you see something, say something” and photographing a building that lies in full view of the public is considered a suspicious activity. While this all might seem like an Orwellian society in which “Big Brother” is constantly looking down upon us, it is necessary to remember that New York has been the target of two major successful attacks, one foiled attack, and unknown numbers of prevented attacks since the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

The most visual way to show this shift in New York’s security is to document the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) counter terrorism units. According to their website, the Counter Terrorism Bureau of the NYPD was created by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in 2002 as a direct response to the realization that the city could not rely solely on the federal government for the safety of it’s citizens. The department’s counter terrorism units are the result of the NYPD’s evolution from being a purely domestic reactionary police force to their current manifestation as the primary preventative law enforcement agency for New York City. While the average New Yorker has seen a gradual change in how the department operates since September 11, what is different may not be readily apparent. This photo essay is an attempt to show the many tasks that this section of the NYPD performs in their effort to safeguard the city.

A Holga view of 9/11

By Shannon Stapleton

The 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center has been causing me some anxiety for some time now.

We were told that magazines, newspapers and all other outlets for pictures regarding the 9/11 attacks would need to be filed and completed by mid-summer for deadlines. For a long time I didn’t cherish the thought of covering another anniversary let alone trying to find new ways to illustrate something that for some time I have been trying to avoid. Having been there first hand on that dark day in history I truly dislike having to go down there at all and usually do my best to avoid World Trade Center site area.

It brings back bad memories and I am not a fan of how it has become such a tourist stop when they visit New York. I truly understand the significance of the day and why people would want to come but looking up at the sky or at a fence covering a big hole in the ground is something I will never understand. As jaded as that may sound I will say that once all the politics, union negotiations and property disputes were settled, they have, and continue with time running out, made significant progress for the Ground Zero memorial. Ten years to figure that out seems to me like a long time but who am I.

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