Photo used with permission by ©Toby Amies
A statement from the photographer:
To say anything about my personal experience of September 11, 2001 feels insignificant in the shadow of the death and suffering that happened on that day and all the slaughter and pain that came after it. How anyone can think of war as holy, before 9/11, but especially after it, stretches my understanding and empathy past breaking point.
That said, here’s how I came to take the photograph.
It’s particularly fucked up that it started as a beautiful day, light and crisp, an Indian summer, with a tiny threat of winter in it. I left my studio on South 8th St. in Brooklyn to go to the bank without looking behind me, but as I came back to it via Berry St. I saw my neighbours standing in the road. They were frozen, just staring down towards Manhattan, towards something terrible and yet too far away to connect directly with. None of us could make immediate sense of what was happening on the other side of the East River. Automatically I took some pictures with the camera that I had originally taken out with me because of the excellent light.
It seems wrong now that I could take the time to frame that shot carefully, but the distance somehow “muted” the apocalypse taking place in Manhattan. Though soon common sense overruled my photographer’s tunnel vision and I realised that something very very bad was happening. Not something to photograph but to fear. Dread and panic took over and I ran upstairs to my girlfriend who was in the apartment [at the top of the red building in the photo] and we clung to each other as the towers crumbled. When they fell, the horror crossed the water and came right into us.
My brain’s too tiny to process and make complete sense of it even now, except to know that it was the opposite of holy. An obscenity in bright sunshine.
Toby Amies is the director of The Man Whose Mind Exploded available now on VOD.