The Day I Became a Photographer: September 12, 2001 (Part 2: The Birth of US Event Photos)
Before I joined my mom in the photography business, I worked for Target. Before I worked for Target (or TAR JAAAAY), I owned an aquarium store in Salisbury, MD, called “Cool World”.
Cool World specialized in high end salt water and reef fish. Salisbury, MD, was called the shit house of the eastern shore by one Maryland governor. Who knew a high end, salt water fish store would not do well located in the Shit House of the Eastern Shore? (OK, by way of explanation, this quote referred to the numerous chicken houses located in Salisbury.)
When the airplanes flew into the World Trade Center, it was my day off from Target. I sat, with every other American, watching CNN in disbelief as the images became more and more horrifying. Every time you tried to see a silver lining, a bit of good luck, hope evaporated. It was the worse thing I had ever seen.
The next day, September 12, I took the day off work and drove to New York City. Signs all along 95 said to stay out. I ignored them, and continued forward.
It felt like I was driving into the abyss. It seemed at any time another plane might fall from the sky, another building may come tumbling down, another horrific tragedy would be broadcast on the news.
“New York City 10 miles. Stay out,” said one sign.
He Who Shall Not Be Named and I pressed forward. We ended up in Time Square, at the Crown Plaza, checking in. The hotel was completely empty. The only other person staying in the hotel (that I could see) was a Red Cross worker. We sat in the revolving atrium, having a quick meal, looking out over the city. A haze of electrical smoke hung everywhere. A stench. The streets were vacant below. Everything had stopped. The city that never sleeps was dead.
Why, you ask, was I there? I don’t know. On the face of it, my dad had asked me to go, much like he’d asked my mom those years before, and get some pictures for his magazine of the rescue operations. But that was my excuse. I was, after all, still working for Target. In reality, I just had to be there.
I was at a cross roads. And my life was about to forever change.