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Remembering 9/11 — Photography’s Power to Preserve and Heal

This is not a post about politics, or the underlying reasons behind terrorism. This is a post about the power of photography and the obligations of the photographer. I still remember being only two miles away from the plane hitting the Pentagon. I had a roomful of art students in my classroom and I had to keep them safe as the world broke down around us and we panicked.

To look back on this day is painful, it brings tears as I write this. But the power of images can heal us, can drive us, and can shape us. Here is a personal project I worked on for the American Red Cross. This video shows footage that most have never seen. It played at an event to recognize the First Responders who lost or risked their lives. The American Red Cross opened up their private archives and shared this moving footage with us. The event is the darkest day of many Americans, but this video attempts to honor the heroism that rose in response.

To donate to the American Red Cross, click here.

Another project that sticks in my memory is Faces of Ground Zero, Portraits of the Heroes of September 11, 2001. Joe McNally captured a series of 246 life-sized photos with most of them shot in the three weeks after the attack. As a traveling exhibit, the event was seen by over a million people in a seven venue tour (and millions more online). Joe’s portraits provide a point of touch for those needing a reminder of the humanity and spirit of the heroes who sought to help others heal. The exhibit and the book, printed by LIFE, helped raise approximately $2 million for the 9/11-relief effort.

See some of the images here. Click the Images button and choose the Faces of Ground Zero 2001 gallery.

Here’s a second gallery at Time Magazine.

Hear Joe McNally tell the story behind his project http://www.911memorial.org/sites/all/files/audio/JoeMcNally_0.mp3

He also relates a personal story here in a guet post.

Here’s a look at the project’s subjects.

If you want to donate to the preservation of these images, visit here.

Thank you Joe for this project and a thank you to all the photographers who preserve memories and help others heal.

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