Behind the Scenes

September 11, 2001

In a situation like that, as a documentary photographer, you had to keep a cool head. Do your job. Document this tragedy in the best way you possibly can. You tell yourself to not overthink things. You have to go on autopilot to some extent, just go on your instincts and intuition and not allow your nerves or your emotions to overwhelm you. We were all completely torn up inside, but you have to get control of yourself so that you can function. Dial your emotions back so that you can put one foot in from of the other.

I knew that this was an important thing and it had to be documented so I went down to do what I always do, to photograph. It just so happened that this particular event happened to be basically in my neighborhood. When we photograph these type of things, I’m on a plane flying to Beirut, Iraq, or Afghanistan. In this case, it was just a short walk down the street.

I was in a state of disbelief. They were just gone. It didn’t seem possible. Like you’re seeing something but you don’t really believe what you’re seeing. Even though I had seen them implode and there was all this smoke, it was not in the realm of possibility for the towers to be gone. It felt like we were living inside a dream, or rather a nightmare.

I went up on the roof of my building and realized the tower was on fire, so I got my camera and started shooting.

I went down to Ground Zero and spent virtually the whole day there, photographing the aftermath. It was like a nightmare, like suddenly...our brains were overloaded and you were in a state of denial that this power was suddenly gone; it seemed impossible. We didn’t have any information so you walked down towards the towers, you didn’t know the extent of the damage. When I got there, it seemed like the whole of lower Manhattan had been destroyed. This was a situation you simply couldn’t believe; it seemed like a dream. For weeks afterwards the smell of the fires came up to my apartment. It was a completely life-changing event.