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Amazing 9/11 Photographs
August 12, 2002 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Amazing 9/11 Photographs From the late photographer, Bill Biggart. (via Fark)
posted by yarf (35 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I find photographs remain far more personal than television footage.
posted by jackspot at 9:07 AM on August 12, 2002


Wow. Thanks for the link. Eerie.
posted by revbrian at 9:13 AM on August 12, 2002


Not only Eerie, but useful, giving engineers (and lawyers) the ability to truly understand what happened during the collapse and what resulted in each structure as a result. As a structural engineer the amazing thing about the WTC collapse is the number of images from various different vantage points which give investigators many more windows into the collapse.

I've become a bit of a geek following the investigations, trying to find many of the different views to understand what happened, but these images really made me do a double take.
posted by NGnerd at 9:23 AM on August 12, 2002


There are a lot of great images in his last roll. I like this one the most for some reason.

It still surprises me when I see dust being the main subject of photos on that day. In the city of all modern world cities, New York City, in the tallest building that represents progress like no other, in the digital age we live in, in a seemingly crisp and somewhat clean environment, when you break down what makes it all up, it's just a bunch of dust.
posted by mathowie at 9:33 AM on August 12, 2002


"And then you see the last frame that nobody else will ever have. You see the honeycomb pieces of the first building... and we see half of the hotel that was destroyed as well. After the second building fell, the hotel, the Marriott I think, was gone. You see it cut in half from what fell from the first building and it is time stamped 10:28 and 24 seconds. Basically that time stamp is the end, because at 10:30 is when the second building came down."

Great link. It's a little sad, but you realize Biggart died doing what he loved to do.
posted by DailyBread at 9:34 AM on August 12, 2002


I just realized, I still can't look.
posted by crunchland at 9:38 AM on August 12, 2002


Shouldn't we want to die while we're doing something we hate?
posted by agregoli at 9:38 AM on August 12, 2002


it's just a bunch of dust.

Now that's depressing, but true. I believe it was Mencken who said we are all rapidly decaying sacks of amino acids. On that day we got to see the decay not happen over the years, but in 2 hours.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:39 AM on August 12, 2002


This is an amazing sort of pictures that give 9/11 an angle never before seen on the media (and that's quite a feat). As much as I'd wish this whole 9/11 thing be archived in history as a very sad happening and let life go on (I don't get those who seem to enjoy a longtime exercise in masochism around the theme) these pictures are among the most compelling and moving I've seen, even to those of us that got sick of the pseudo-patriotic warmongering that ensued.

Because all in all this is about ordinary people like you and me. And because the circumstances that turned Bill Biggart a 9/11 martyr are still so overwhelming and moving.
posted by betobeto at 9:41 AM on August 12, 2002


Wow. To die doing something you love is really beautiful, I think. These photographs really bring home (for me) what happened last year on 9/11. Especially the realization that the man who took them lost his own life documenting what he surely knew was a monumental event. It does make me wonder if he really grasped what was happening, or if it was his instinct that took over, as he got closer to "ground zero".

Thanks for sharing...
posted by greengrl at 9:43 AM on August 12, 2002


ashes to ashes....dust to dust.

I still look at some of the images with the thought that I could never understand what people felt as they were running from the towers or trying to help people in shock or injured. It's almost been a year and the images still shock me and pull me to an emotional level that I will have for the rest of my life.
posted by mkelley at 9:43 AM on August 12, 2002


I'm not trying to start a fight here, but you look at those pictures and you can't help but feel depressed, sad, and shocked. And all of that happened in the span of a couple of hours on a sunny, late-summer morning.

Now imagine the "people who hate America" watching US bombs destroy buildings and kill people in their country every day for months on end. Those people must feel the same depression, horror, and anger.

So why is war an appropriate response? Is American grief worth more than Afghani grief, or soon-to-be-Iraqi grief?

I know that sounds facetious, but really, aren't we just guaranteeing that more of this happens in the future?
posted by Fabulon7 at 9:58 AM on August 12, 2002


There's an interesting double exposure, supposedly accidental, that is being sold as a poster. There's also a gallery there of the photographer's other work that day and following. And blogger Susanna Cornett has an exclusive WTC photograph taken through the rubble.* Another site that's been overlooked in the shuffle, only getting a few links two months ago (though it made the rounds some time before that) is Gary Suson, a Greenwich Village photographer who rushed to the site.

* Note: Cornett's blog topic is "liberal media bias", if you don't like that, don't go.
posted by dhartung at 10:06 AM on August 12, 2002


Shouldn't we want to die while we're doing something we hate?

Niki Lauda, the 1970s racing driver, almost died in a horrific crash where he was burnt beyond recognition. After he went back to F1 racing, I saw him interviewed.

"How can you bear to get back into a racing car when you almost died in one?" asked the interviewer.

"Do you hope to die in bed?" asked Lauda.

"Yes" came the reply.

"Then how can you find the courage to get into bed every night if you expect to die there?"
posted by essexjan at 10:08 AM on August 12, 2002


angle never before seen on the media (and that's quite a feat).

am i missing something? they look pretty much like the rest of the wtc photos, different angle maybe... the last was the best (and most horrible given the known circumstance - 90 seconds until the second tower fell on him) showing the marriott almost cut in two by the falling first tower. i guess i was just expecting something more given the remarks like above and the ones about giving engineers another view at what happened. also, doesn't the intro say there were 150 digitals shot? where are they?

I just realized, I still can't look.

and this attitude STILL boggles my mind.

the images still shock me and pull me to an emotional level that I will have for the rest of my life.

god forbid you ever happen across a bad auto accident.
posted by quonsar at 10:09 AM on August 12, 2002


by the same coin, Fabulon7, does that now give US citizens "the right" to hate the countries involved in the attack? If you suffer an attack, you hate is justified somehow?

(not that I agree with that opinion...)
posted by stifford at 10:12 AM on August 12, 2002


Please let's not turn this into a political discussion. If you want that, go into the MeFi archives for right after 9/11 and, I assure you, you'll run right back out screaming.

Great find, yarf. Thanks for the link!
posted by evanizer at 10:20 AM on August 12, 2002


These are great pics. I will never forget that day, it was two-ish in the p.m. in England, I was out shopping for a suitcase for my first trip to the US in 2 weeks. time.

I saw people gathered in front of the window of an electrical store, and went over to see. I got there just as the second plane hit.

"Is it a trailer for a film?" I asked, although inside I knew it was real, but it looked so damn surreal.

All the stores were hushed, there was a horrible feeling that the world was about to come to an end, that missiles would fly. I drove home quickly and phoned a few people to tell them I loved them before it was too late.
posted by essexjan at 10:23 AM on August 12, 2002


No, I am saying that some degree of anger and hate is understandable in the aftermath of horrific events. But then, given time to recover and deal with these events, you stop being so angry and hateful. Americans have had time now to deal with their anger. A lot of people in the mid-east haven't, because things keep blowing up there.

That being said, I suppose you have the right to hate whomever you wish. Hate is an internal state. You don't, however, have the right to take action against the object of your hate.

And it is a great link, thanks.
posted by Fabulon7 at 10:27 AM on August 12, 2002


Agreed Evanizer. I'd hate to see that happen.

I was just thinking about September 11th the other day and trying to recall where I was the moment this all went down. The day is still crystal clear unlike some other days in my life. The pics aren't really all that spectacular to me but the context in which they were taken and subsequent story are what's compelling.

Thanks so much for this link.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:31 AM on August 12, 2002


It's strange, but looking at these pics, the human kind seems to be so....fragile, and small.
posted by Sijeka at 10:44 AM on August 12, 2002


I don't understand, and maybe someone would like to enlighten me... what is it that makes it any different from any other tragedy?

We live, and we die. Sometimes our lives are cut short, and that's a fact of living on this planet.

Death on a large scale is no different from death on a small scale; lives are lost.

It seems I am not the only one that has a hard time understanding this attitude.
posted by spidre at 10:53 AM on August 12, 2002


what is it that makes it any different from any other tragedy?

Proximity. This is why if your mother dies, you go to the funeral, but won't when someone you don't know loses their mother. Ontologically, they may be the same in the 'amount' of tragedy, but your perspective shapes the importance of different events. Don't be so simplistic. 'Any other tragedy' is an ill-defined generalization. What is a tragedy? Aren't some events more tragic than others?
posted by insomnyuk at 11:09 AM on August 12, 2002


Life is limited for some more than others. If, say a relative died on September 11th, it would not make it anymore tragic than not losing someone I love because of it.

I just have a hard time believing that people are so sensitive about it. "Oh I still can't look" "This will shock me forever", etc.

That is the nature of life. What will you gain from avoiding reality? Are you going to go play in your own world where there is no hate, death, destruction, chaos?
posted by spidre at 11:17 AM on August 12, 2002


"I just have a hard time believing that people are so sensitive about it. "Oh I still can't look" "This will shock me forever", etc."

I think people just need time. A required time which is needed, just like when someone's mourning.
posted by Sijeka at 11:25 AM on August 12, 2002


The thing that affects me the most when looking at these pictures is the knowledge that certainly most of the subjects in the photographs, as well as the photgrapher himself, are dead. I wonder if family members of some of the subjects have found these photographs.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:45 AM on August 12, 2002


Proximity for sure. How about magnitude as well? Granny is one thing but think of the number of people that were lost in one day as well as the number of relatives that were affected. The symbolism of the attacks and what they meant to our security as a country also sets this apart from other tragedies.

I'm not going to question someone's sensitivity level. For all I know they may have lost someone or just have a real hard time with the reminders of that day.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:51 AM on August 12, 2002


It has been one hell of a twisty road for lower Manhattan.
Destination Iraq?
posted by a3matrix at 11:55 AM on August 12, 2002


Amazing link. What boggles my mind, though, is how and why he kept moving forward after the first tower's collapse.
posted by tirade at 3:05 PM on August 12, 2002


quonsar, surely you did not just compare 9/11 to a mere auto accident? What shocks is not the grotesque imagery; it is that anyone would do that to 3000 people. That should shock, and should keep on shocking and disturbing.

Fabulon: Please don't engage in moral equivalence. If the United States bombs a civilian structure in the middle east on a sunny, peaceful morning, just because we hate them, you might have a case. For instance, the most horrible thing that we've done so far was the bombing of a wedding late in the spring that killed around 50 people. That was not, however, an attempt to kill 50 civilians; one way or another, it was surely a horrible mistake. If the Muslim world you describe has such reduced moral clarity as to equate these two events, that would indeed be a horrible thing; but whether or not there are people who see it that way, a rational person can see the difference in the two events, the distinction of intent. And you will see that my view of Muslims is more morally expansive than yours; I suggest you reconsider.

In the most recent Atlantic, Hitchens slams Amis for his reductivist moralizing against Stalinism, as if the right were the only ones who saw the purges and the danger. This prhase stuck with me: If there turns out to be a connection between the utilitarian and the totalitarian, then we wretched mammals are in even worse straits than we suspect. By the same token, if there turns out to be an equivalence between ends regardless of means, if there can never be any just wars, ever, we are indeed in trouble.
posted by dhartung at 3:43 PM on August 12, 2002


Beyond the strawman of the 'moral equivalence' line, does anyone apart from the brow-beaten in the US think that the proposed Iraq 'adventure' (to use the phrase of Chancellor Schroeder) is anything other than an expedient expectoration of personal acrimony, in the form of A War Against Someone Who Isn't Really A Terrorist, But Can Be Made To Look Like One If You Squint Hard Enough? No matter of bluster will dispel those moral clouds.

On to the topic: photographers in the mould of Bill Biggart are a breed apart, especially those who rush towards such scenes, rather than take the (human? cowardly? both?) route as far away as possible. It makes me wonder whether Sept. 11th will be mythologised in terms of that which was seen by so many, or that which people simply 'don't want to see any more'. Or whether you flip between both: the terrible iconic images put on show when they're useful for political capital, or the horror that makes you look away when it's useful. Classic taboo. At least neither ulterior motive was in the mind of this brave man armed only with a camera.
posted by riviera at 4:19 PM on August 12, 2002


I like the story. It is a good story. It is not a sad story. What I like most of all is that the word "hero" is not mentioned once. That is what makes it real. To have called him a hero would have been wrong and detracted from the amazing pictures. He was photographing heroes. He wasn't helping. I would like to know the rationale he had for not helping these people. I would think that being a human being would outweigh being a journalist in a situation like this, but, obviously I am wrong. I would have wished that the "brave man armed only with a camera" would have been armed with something to help those in need.

To paraphrase Bobcat, "If you ever see me getting covered by a falling building, put down the camera and come help me!"
posted by sciatica at 7:26 PM on August 12, 2002


Ah, riviera, it's a straw man to make a distinction between deliberate murder and a traffic accident. Keep digging; I don't believe you've found your depth yet.
posted by dhartung at 8:24 PM on August 12, 2002


Ah, riviera, it's a straw man to make a distinction between deliberate murder and a traffic accident. Keep digging; I don't believe you've found your depth yet.

Ah, dhartung, bait-and-switch is such an old trick, and yet it appears to be the one you're forced to rely upon when you're all out of flannel and bluster. Whatever.
posted by riviera at 2:35 AM on August 13, 2002


He was photographing heroes. He wasn't helping.

He captured the last moments of people and places that are now gone. That could be considered helpful by those who loved them.

I would like to know the rationale he had for not helping these people. I would think that being a human being would outweigh being a journalist in a situation like this, but, obviously I am wrong.

The photographs show a lot of people covered in dust but otherwise okay, and a few people being carried off on stretchers who were already being helped by others. I suspect that he had a pretty good guess what was coming, having already seen the first tower come down: the collapse of the second. In the light of that, any effort to help those around him was less valuable than recording the scene for posterity, since one man can't do much against thousands of tons of crashing rubble. If holding his nerve in that situation and not running for dear life wasn't brave, what is? It's quite possible to be brave without being heroic.
posted by rory at 6:46 AM on August 13, 2002


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