Covering 9/11: reflecting on images

fa_394_gauthierfamilycandle250 fa_394_mets250 fa_394_friedmanfiremen250 J. Christopher Daly 9/11 Images

Editors note: Los Angeles Times photographers Gary Friedman and Robert Gauthier arrived in New York on Sept. 13, 2001, and immediately began covering the disaster. In today’s From the Archives post, Friedman and Gauthier reflect on some of their Sept. 11 images. Larger versions of the photos are in the gallery above.

A 6 a.m. phone call on Sept. 11 from Times photo editor Steve Stroud woke photographer Gary Friedman. After explaining the news, Stroud instructed Friedman to catch the next flight to New York. While he was on the phone making reservations, all flights were grounded.

It would be two more days before Friedman, fellow photographer Rob Gauthier and a group of Times journalist reached New York on a charter flight. They landed in New Jersey early in the evening of Thursday, Sept. 13, checked into a mid-town hotel, and immediately started covering the story.

Times reporter Hector Tobar and Friedman walked towards Lower Manhattan. Friedman carried only one camera body and two lenses. After getting past several barricades and heavy security they arrived at ground zero — the remains of the World Trade Center.

“There are no words to describe what we saw,” Friedman said. “It resembled an atom bomb blast, rescue workers everywhere.”

Friedman turned around and against the backdrop of glaring light saw a silhouetted group of firemen. They were looking at looking at “the Pile,” where 343 of their firehouse brothers had been lost.

Friedman opened his coat, brought his camera to his eye and made this image.

“I find this image haunting, yet beautiful,” says Friedman.

In the following weeks, Friedman concentrated on the New York Fire Department, a project recalled in his “Rescue 5″ story and the “Rescue 5: A photographer remembers” blog post last week. –Scott Harrison

Sept. 14, 2001: Some families waited for the inevitable confirmation that their loved ones were killed in the fall of the twin towers. Others pulled together in shock and sadness and began to mourn their loss.

This was the case with the family of Daniel Lopez, a financial analyst at Carr Futures on the 92nd floor of the north tower. His wife, Elizabeth, after three days of searching, gathered her family and silently wept at a neighborhood vigil in Queens.

After hours of photographing the perimeter of ground zero and passing by thousands of missing persons posters, this moment brought the tragedy into focus for me. The somber stillness of this Queens neighborhood of apartment buildings, broken only by the hushed sobs of families and friends, provided a glimpse of an emptiness that would continue for them long after I left. –Robert Gauthier

Sept. 15, 2001: Exhausted from three solid days of searching, Ammo rests with a comforting hand from SPCA detective Michael Norkelun a few hundred yards from ground zero. As first responders from all over the country scoured the rubble for survivors and victims, so did numerous search and rescue dogs.

Nimble and determined, the dogs could be seen darting in and out, above and below piles of steel and debris as anxious handlers barked commands and flashed gestures. Trained to work and eager to please, the dogs worked endless hours, like the human rescue workers, to the point of exhaustion.

This photo of Ammo elicited more emails and letters than any

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other picture I took of destroyed buildings, grieving families and exhausted human rescue workers. I’m not surprised. Animals like Ammo are unconditionally devoted to their human handlers. That’s something all of us admire deeply. –Robert Gauthier

Sept. 21, 2001: Jack Hord, 7, puts on a brave face while fans cheer the national anthem during pregame ceremonies at the Mets – Braves game. Neighbor J. Christopher Daly, holds him as the first baseball game since the fall of the twin towers begins at Shea Stadium. Jack’s father, Monte Hord, an employee at Cantor Fitzgerald, was killed in the attack.

This was one of a few defining moments during my Sept. 11 experience. It was obvious that young Jack Hord hadn’t begun to process what had happened; yet, like the rest of the country, people at the game were anxious to move forward with their lives. The stadium was filled with patriotism and enthusiasm. For a moment I felt a part of that community, but then I looked into Jack’s eyes and wondered how his life had changed, now that his father was gone. –Robert Gauthier

Tomorrow: Los Angeles Times photographer Mark Boster looks back on his two-week cross-country drive documenting America after Sept. 11.

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