Photographers who shot a few of the most unforgettable photographs on Sept. 11, 2001, and the times after keep in mind the tales behind the photographs.

Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-Ledger

Aristide Economopoulos

“I had an excessive amount of sake the night time earlier than. I lived in Jersey Metropolis and wasn’t supposed to begin my day till 3 p.m. to shoot a neighborhood 13-year-old internet designer, however my mother referred to as at 8:22 a.m. to inform me what had occurred. I took a ferry into decrease Manhattan. I used to be 30 then and had solely moved to New York lower than a yr earlier — I’d by no means even been to decrease Manhattan. That day we noticed the perfect in humanity but in addition the worst in humanity. I used to be on Broadway, trying west to the engulfed towers. The individuals within the picture are in shock and awe, making an attempt to understand what occurred. The man’s watch reads 9:45, about quarter-hour earlier than the autumn of the primary tower. His hand is as much as his mouth, so shocked. No one anticipated the towers to fall. They don’t understand they’re nonetheless in play within the story, that in a couple of minutes this mud cloud goes to engulf them, too.”


9/11-Two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center destroying both towers. Views from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Patrick Andrade/Polaris Photos

Patrick Andrade

“I used to be dwelling in Brooklyn and my first intuition was to seize my digicam and go. I used to be crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and I used to be the one one going into Manhattan; everybody else was popping out. I used to be amazed on the variety of individuals making an attempt to get out of the town. The South Tower collapsed and a few individuals didn’t understand what had occurred behind them. The lady within the foreground — it was simply horror in her response. That’s what I used to be trying to painting. There have been different individuals crying with their heads buried, however she was extra brazenly emotional. I cried at night time the primary few nights [after 9/11]. You would odor loss of life within the air.”


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A fireman screams in pain during his rescue shortly after both towers of New York's World Trade Center collapsed following a terrorist attack, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001.
Robert Mecea/Newsday/AP

Robert Mecea

“I used to be at Floor Zero, hours after the assaults. An ESU cop yelled out to me and one other photographer, ‘Hey you! Media! When you’re gonna be right here, it’s a must to work! You possibly can take all the photographs you need, however it’s a must to work.’ So we began working — unloading saws, axes and that type of stuff from a hearth truck. All of the sudden, somebody referred to as out, ‘Deliver the Stokes basket!’ I grabbed that and headed over to the overhead walkway. We made a human chain and had been pulling particles away because the firefighters had been digging one among their guys out. I stated to myself, ‘I’m taking this man’s image whether it is the very last thing I do.’ I later realized his identify was Armando Reno and he was the driving force of his rig. As they carried him out, he screamed extremely loud. Per week later I went to Armando’s residence in Whitestone and took a portrait of him along with his spouse and daughter. Seems, he had been outdoors the WTC hooking up the hose to the rig when the tower fell. That’s why he survived. All his guys died within the constructing. I’ve not seen Armando since that day at his home.”


Marcy Borders stands covered in dust as she takes refuge in an office building following the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center
Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Photos

Stan Honda

(Honda shot the now-famous picture that turned often called “Mud Woman” — however, as he identified, that woman had a reputation: Marcy Borders.)

“After the primary tower collapsed, there was a lot smoke and dirt within the air it was like night time. I used to be close to an workplace constructing and a police officer was pulling individuals into the foyer to get out of the cloud of mud. I used to be within the foyer a couple of minute and a girl got here in utterly coated in mud. She paused by some elevators for a second and I took one body. There wasn’t any time for any interplay, though within the picture she is trying straight into the digicam. I didn’t suppose I might see the girl after that. However in 2002, Marcy’s household contacted the [photo agency] to establish the girl within the picture. A reporter and I met Marcy at her Bayonne, NJ, condo to listen to her story and {photograph} her. It’s superb, [when you] see the picture, that Marcy survived the assault and collapse of the towers. The picture humanizes the story.”


FDNY firefighter Matthew Long stands with pike in hand looking over the total devastation that remains of the New York City Twin Towers, which only hours earlier were stuck by two passenger airliners.
Matthew McDermott

Matthew McDermott

“I borrowed a pal’s motorbike to get round decrease Manhattan. I used to be standing behind Matthew Lengthy of the FDNY within the smoke, and the wind all of the sudden shifted and the solar got here pouring in. He was standing very erect, assured, with this pose, like, ‘Right here we go, let’s get to work.’ You’re taking a look at this indescribable mound of destruction, the scale of it. And he’s received a pike, he’s getting in, making an attempt to do one thing. Days like that you just study so much about your self. It was a day I did what I used to be alleged to do. If I wasn’t there, I more than likely would have enlisted. I in all probability had about 500 emails from younger males all around the nation who enlisted as a result of they noticed my photographs. That saved me in pictures.”


The impact of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center this morning. News.
Tamara Beckwith/NY Submit

Tamara Beckwith

“I received an early name from the The Submit’s picture editor, who thought a small airplane had crashed into the WTC. I lived close to the Williamsburg waterfront, which was an empty lot on the time. I ran out of the automobile and proper as I regarded up, I noticed an explosion. I couldn’t imagine it, it occurred so shortly. It was essentially the most stunning blue sky — sailboats on the river, such a jarring factor to look at. Extra individuals got here down, and somebody lastly stated, ‘A airplane went into the Pentagon.’ We had been all simply horrified. Everybody’s head turned to the Empire State Constructing, prefer it may very well be subsequent.”


People walk away from the World Trade Center tower in New York City early September 11, 2001.
Shannon Stapleton

Shannon Stapleton

“The considered us being underneath assault was the farthest factor from my thoughts. I assumed it was a prop airplane [at first]. This image was on the base of the North Tower. They’ve truly preserved these stairs on the [9/11] Museum. Amongst all that chaos of the rubble and destruction, you possibly can nonetheless see shafts of sunshine coming via the clouds and the smoke. It actually felt surreal. I made it out quarter-hour earlier than the tower got here down. For me, [the picture] sums up the number of the individuals affected by the tragedy. They weren’t all rescue staff, firemen and policemen. These had been New Yorkers. Individuals who went to the town and went to the Towers to work day by day.”


People run from the collapse of one of the twin towers at the World Trade Center in New York. Stephen Cooper, far left, fleeing smoke and debris as the south tower crumbled just a block away on Sept. 11, has died from coronavirus, his family said, according to The Palm Beach Post.
Suzanne Plunkett

Suzanne Plunkett

“I used to be alleged to be photographing Trend Week for the Related Press and received a message to name the workplace. Once I couldn’t join, I turned on the TV and noticed that the primary airplane had gone via the tower. I took the subway to Broadway and Church. Up on the road there, somebody stated, ‘It’s coming down.’ And the primary tower was collapsing. I started operating with everybody else till my journalistic instincts kicked in. I rotated and took possibly a dozen frames of individuals racing from the cloud. They had been surprisingly calm and quiet. Then I went right into a vitamin/beeper store — keep in mind these? — and requested to make use of their energy so I may ship out footage. Doing my job normalized issues.”


Steven Kerstein looks at the devastation to his neighborhood from his bedroom window after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Helayne Seidman

Helayne Seidman

“Precisely a month after Sept. 11, 2001, I used to be assigned by the Washington Submit to shoot Gateway Plaza tenant Steven Kerstein, 55, in his thirtieth ground Battery Park Metropolis condo overlooking the World Commerce Heart devastation. To see how many individuals had been grieving post-9/11 was numbing. Steven misplaced buddies working within the Twin Towers. He stated his neighborhood was vaporized and he was shifting out. The night time earlier than was his final night time in his condo. I needed to get a picture of Steven and your complete crater. With him sticking his head and shoulders out his bed room window, I made this {photograph} whereas sticking my physique out the lounge window and taking pictures. You would see every thing. Steven finds all of it onerous to speak about to at the present time. Earlier than the pandemic, he labored close to the location as a market knowledge analyst for Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. Typically, he walked over to the 9/11 Memorial and thought of what occurred. He misplaced his residence, his neighborhood, colleagues, buddies. He had a bout with colon most cancers and a mind tumor. However he and his spouse received via it, and he feels lucky.”


U.S. President George W. Bush addresses a crowd as he stands with retired firefighter Bob Beckwith from Ladder 117 at the scene of the World Trade Center disaster in New York, September 14, 2001.
Win McNamee/Reuters

Win McNamee

“Moments the place the president of the USA is unscripted and utterly engrossed within the state of affairs are very uncommon. At one level, on at the present time quickly after 9/11, President Bush was very near crying, as had been most of the individuals touring with him — together with me. It was one of many extra real moments you will notice between a sitting president and peculiar Joe residents. This was not a president surrounded by firemen; it was a bunch of People feeling the identical somber second.”


Vigil for the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks .
Clark Jones

Clark Jones

“Photographing this vigil held at Washington Sq. Park, I keep in mind a sense of each overwhelming unhappiness and nationwide unity. Like several life-altering occasion, it took a number of days for the enormity of what occurred to sink into the thoughts and psyche of New Yorkers. This was a second that folks had an outlet to grieve with buddies and, most significantly, with the neighborhood at massive. Photographing at night time, lit by the glow of candles and darkish environment, emphasised these three ladies’s deep grieving — a transparent image of the nationwide grieving that was going down. Twenty years later, I nonetheless take pleasure in an occasional stroll via Washington Sq., though heading right down to Floor Zero may be very troublesome for me.”


Three NYC firemen, George Johnson and Dan McWilliams and Bill Eisengrein raise an American flag near the rubble of the World Trade Center.
Thomas E. Franklin/The File/USA Immediately Community

Thomas Franklin

“I used to be working for the Bergen File in New Jersey. All of the river crossings had been closed, so I went to Alternate Place in Jersey Metropolis and talked my method onto a tugboat that took me throughout the Hudson River. I noticed firemen working with a flag that had been taken off of a close-by yacht. They transferred it to a flagpole that they discovered within the rubble. I didn’t suppose the picture would stand out the best way it does. However, taking a look at it now, it depicts three firemen doing one thing that they thought would supply a way of solidarity, unity and power within the midst of this horrible tragedy.”


At the first of what would turn out to be hundreds of funerals for slain firefighters after the 9/11 attacks, onlookers mourn the life of one of thousands of slain New Yorkers.
Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Photos

Andrew Lichtenstein

“These two ladies had been crying on the first funeral for a New York firefighter, I imagine a chaplain, that was held outdoors a station home in Midtown. Like so many different New Yorkers, I’d watched individuals bounce out of the Towers, and ran when the large mud cloud rushed down the avenues after the Towers fell, so I used to be feeling fairly uncooked myself, however there are occasions when the digicam helps. As a journalist, I witnessed all this with a job to do. I keep in mind feeling the amazingness of New York that week. All of us appeared to be experiencing the identical horror as all these lacking posters went up. So whereas I used to be masking the funeral, these two ladies simply standing on the road expressed that for me greater than the normal picture of rows of firefighters saluting because the coffin was positioned on the again of a firetruck. Whereas we had been standing outdoors ready for the funeral to start, somebody informed me {that a} mutual pal, one other photographer, was lacking. I keep in mind, in some way, discovering solace in these ladies’s tears, as if it was all proper for all of us to cry.”


Girl holding sign at Port Authority Police Officer Dominick Pezzulo's funeral.
Beth Keiser

Beth Keiser

“Port Authority Police Officer Dominick Pezzulo was killed within the World Commerce Heart assaults and I used to be assigned to cowl his funeral on Oct. 19, 2001, as a employees photographer for the Related Press. This was truly one of many first funerals to be held. So few stays had been recovered a month after the Commerce Heart assaults that funerals had been nonetheless very emotional and uncooked. I used to be positioned outdoors the church the place tons of of regulation enforcement officers from all around the nation got here to pay their respects and grieve collectively as a neighborhood. Within the sea of navy uniforms lining the Pelham Bay avenue, one little woman stood out in her pink shirt. Tiffany Massagli, 8 years outdated, stood up on a stoop, solemnly holding up her home made signal — ‘You’ll all the time be my Hero’ — because the officers lined her avenue. I’ve all the time cherished this picture, because it exhibits how related everybody was to one another of their shared grief by the assault on 9/11. She didn’t know the officer killed, or any of the tons of standing outdoors her constructing, however but she needed to be there and allow them to know she shared their ache.”


Aftermath of the World Trade Center terrorist attack
Timothy Fadek/Polaris Photos

Timothy Fadek

“It was the night time of Sept. 12. I sat down on a ledge, searching from inside Brookfield Place throughout the road. I used to be carrying a building onerous hat I discovered discarded within the rubble to mix in. The sound was most memorable. No one was speaking, however you heard all this mechanical tools, like a building web site. There was that 9/11 acrid odor — a metallic odor that you could possibly style. It felt like I used to be on the set of an apocalyptic film: It didn’t appear actual. As photographers, we attempt to get as near the motion as attainable, however once in a while it’s a must to pull again and present the viewer a picture with a way of scale.”


Brooklyn promenade and view in Manhattan without the World Trade center after the terrorist attack.
Michel Setboun/Corbis/Getty Photos

Michel Setboun

“At midday on Sept. 11, the south of Manhattan turned a sort of conflict zone. I couldn’t get entry wherever; I had no press card. The town was like a wounded animal. I began to stroll across the locations I knew with a formidable background of Manhattan. In fact I went to Brooklyn and on the shore of New Jersey. In every single place, individuals had been gathering in a sort of mass — they needed to be collectively, they had been going again to the roots of human beings. That was additionally a option to survive. I had by no means felt that humanity in New York earlier than. It was surreal. Two years earlier than, I used to be in Afghanistan underneath the management of the Taliban. After 20 years I really feel very [sad], all these individuals killed for nothing.”