Photo by Sean Hemmerle
Dec 23, 2001. I had just arrived to New York after a long flight from Tokyo and a friend picked me up at the airport. When we came home to my friends apartment in Queens and turned on the TV I saw people from my flight still queing up to have their passports checked and bags searched. The news reporter told us "live", about some man on a flight from Paris that had tried to blow up his flight with some stuff hidden in his sneakers. I didn't really get the whole story thanx to jetlag and a soggy airplane food fed brain still messy after too many cups of weak coffee, and I didn't really remember how I had managed to sneak my way through without a single airmarshal had stopped me.
I like to travel light when I travel and I had only a small duffelbag with me, nothing to pick up before heading through the gates into the unknown. Fact is, I didn't see one single pig during my whole trip from the cramped cabin to the cab who took us to Queens through a frozen Manhattan, guess thay were all on break and didn't expect a lone Caucasian male depart from a flight from Narita and glide past their desks without notice. I had gotten a cheap flight due to some muslim hardliners had smashed two plane into the W.T.C buildings just 3 month before. Not a single Japanese wanted to fly to NothAmerica that winter, afraid that a Bin Laden would do the same trick again. The media had successfully managed to get the whole nation on red alert and even the town hall here in my neighborhood in Tokyo with it's 15 floor had guards for one day after the Jiahd deed.
New York, for me THE City after Istanbul and Tokyo. I had come here to see the "Ground Zero" and also the old school music hangout club CBGB among othere stuff of what the city had to offer. The much heard of B&H Photo proved to be a downer with paranoid staff and prices well over the ones in Japan, the que to board the ferry to Liberty Island almost froze me to death (2hours out side on a frost bitten pier) and when I arrived to the Isalnd it was closed due to bomb threats or something like it. To stroll Manhattan for days and pop into local diners for coffe and something to eat was highlights of my trip. I was thinking alot of how I would have reacted if I was in the city when the planes smacked into the twin towers. Would I do like two photographers that infuenced me over the years, get my self down there, past the confused security and start shooting? Steve McCurry and James Nachtwey captured the biggest news event of the world on film to show to you, me and the rest of the world. Why havent we seen more photos of this in the press? Maybe only a true professional photographer would think that way, to actually head straight into the heart of the conflict and do a job. Maybe the fact that it was terrorist attack with thousands of people being killed wasn't on their mind that day exactly 5 years ago. It was an event that had to be captured on film, a chance to get a story, a job...?
I still don't know what I would have done if I was there that day, If I would have panicked and start running away from the towers like everybody else or towards the towers like some guys did. I guess I will never know, hope I will never have the chance to experience this but I am grateful as a professional freelance photographer to these guys who showed us first of all what really happened and also for showing us what professionalism means. These guys images will be used to remind us what's going on in the world today, to all those people who lost their lives that day and are still losing their lives around the world up to this day due to a small core of extremists (with or without turban or necktie) and the ignorant "revenge" policy of todays self proclaimed leading nations.