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Update from the City

Jun 22

In Friends, history, In The Field at 7:59am

Work is pretty crazy right now. We are shooting in the field, catching up with folks from the original Giant Polaroid project of nearly 10 years ago. It’s hectic, but rewarding. There’s a wellspring in these people of good feeling and the power of optimism. There’s also the vibrancy of life in the big city, which I have always thrived on, photographically.

We’ve had a couple bobbles along the way, in terms of getting the show out on the floor of the Time Warner Center for the 10th Anniversary, but hey, it’s New York. It’s not a straight line to anywhere, here. (Is that a sentence? I think you know what I mean.) But we are committed, and going forward, even if Louie Cacchioli, a bunch of firefighters, and the gang at my studio have to pull and haul crates and set up frames.

Photographed Keith Johnson of Ladder Six the other night. Keith is a big, gregarious guy, with an even bigger heart. He drives the tiller truck, 54′, in length, and I’ve seen him u-turn that puppy in a space you’d swear you couldn’t turn around a Subaru. It’s got a driver in the back, Keith up front. As he says, the guy in the back has really gotta keep the wheels straight. “Some guys, you know, they freelance a bit. I’ll look in my rear view mirror, and I’m driving in the left lane and he’s driving in the right, and that’s a problem,” he says, laughing. But his expertise is well needed at fire scenes. His job is to get this massive truck in close to a building, and finesse its’ position so ladders can reach those in trouble.

I’m trying to catch up to people, and shoot pictures that reflect their lives now, 10 years after the dust cloud. One ongoing devotion in Keith’s life is to his daughter, who is just an amazing kid. So she came into the house last week, and we went out on East Broadway for a picture. I asked if we could roll the truck. He said sure. I asked if that would be difficult to do. He looked at me and said, “Hey Joe, wanna see how difficult?” He turned and shouted over his shoulder, “Ladder Six, we’re rolling!”

More tk….

cory Lum says:

on June 22, 2011 at 8:03 am

fabulous post mr mcNally.
made me smile ! keep up the inspiring work
i don’t know if u remember me, i was a team member w/ hondros
you were our leader. bert fox was our editor
cheers ! ALOHA !
cory in japan

Alessandro Rosa says:

on June 22, 2011 at 8:22 am

If you ever need an extra pair of hands (lintless white-cottoned gloved ones) setting that up, I’m in NY, survived WTC and respect and admire your work. You have my email….

Ken Toney says:

on June 22, 2011 at 8:24 am

Joe, out of all the reasons why I think of you as a friend, loving firefighters is #1. I’ve been a volunteer firefighter since 1975 and it touches close to home. My health prevents me from being active now but I still help and take care of my brothers. Thanks for all you do! See you in Vegas soon!

Wayne Pearson says:

on June 22, 2011 at 8:32 am

Love your images, love your writing even more. Always makes me smile.

JerseyStyle Photography says:

on June 22, 2011 at 8:33 am

Very cool! Can’t wait to see where this goes…and I hope to see the 10th Anniversary exhibit soon. ~ Mark

David says:

on June 22, 2011 at 8:36 am

Great work. Wish I was there to help, hold a flash, a cable, a light stand, a reflector ….
Anyway, went by Engine 54 the other day and was stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the mural on their front door and saw my in-law’s name. First time to see the dedications. Very emotional. Hard to believe it will be 10 years.
Memories ….

Pete Burger says:

on June 22, 2011 at 8:49 am

besides being a great photographer, you, by example, are teaching America what a work ethic can do.

Abhi says:

on June 22, 2011 at 8:53 am

You are the guy who should teach people to write blogs!

Bob says:

on June 22, 2011 at 8:54 am

We love what you do Joe and how you do it. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to the NYFD.

Jonathan Lopez says:

on June 22, 2011 at 9:46 am

What a great follow-up shot. I remember the devastation and heartbreak in the faces of each polaroid portrait…this reminds us just how far we’ve come.

Thank’s for sharing.

PS–are you using your SB-900’s or a large strobe?

Keith Charles says:

on June 22, 2011 at 10:39 am


Nice shot! You are a real stand up dude. If I were a betting man this image was on the house. Our public service personal don’t hear thank you enough. Everyone is quick to call in a complaint on Keith because he parked the latter truck in there way.

Janine Fugere says:

on June 22, 2011 at 11:59 am

This is a really nice post Joe and I love the portrait of Keith with his daughter and the firetruck. Having friends who lived and worked in NYC on the day of 9/11, I’m especially grateful to folks like Keith who helped and people like you who have documented their stories. It’s very nice to see the look at their lives today also, so I hope to see more of these posts. By the way, yes, “It’s not a straight line to anywhere, here.” is definitely a sentence. It has a noun and a verb (which even agree) and it expresses a complete thought and idea. That’s all you need my friend, and yes, we knew what you meant! Keep up the wonderful and inspiring work. Janine (from the Denver FBT)

Mike Neale says:

on June 22, 2011 at 1:08 pm

All Truckies are big,…like Keith here,…imagine dropping the horizon line with this shot,…course it means getting down on the deck, Joe,…you can still get down there?, right???,…..;-))



Richard Davis says:

on June 22, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Hi Joe,

I’ll be in New York on June 7th and 8th, stopping off on my way back to Houston from London. Hope to get to see the exhibit while I’m there. Do you have opening hours or any other link to the exhibit you could share?

Paul F says:

on June 22, 2011 at 11:21 pm


Your photos of fire fighters have inspired me to reach out to my small-town fire department. There was a fire last week at one of the out-buildings at the high-school. Nobody was hurt, but they called in a lot of surrounding departments to put it out. I took some pictures as they were cleaning up, and I talked to the assistant chief and asked if he’d like a copy. To my surprise, he sounded almost excited to have anybody ask. I wrote a letter volunteering to help with events or portraits, burned a DVD of the pictures, and dropped it off at the station tonight.

It’s a bit late, but I also want to say that I really enjoyed the FBT in Chicago. It’s inspired me to reach out of my normal comfort zone and try new things, even though I shoot mostly manual. :)



Glyn Dewis says:

on June 24, 2011 at 3:15 pm

“I’m driving in the left lane and he’s driving in the right, and that’s a problem” … hilarious understatement…lol :)

Great that you’ve kept in close contact with all the guys who worked so darned hard and showed such incredible bravery during that terrible time; it’s thanks to folks like you Joe that they get some of the recognition they so justly deserve!

Good on you!

Best wishes to you and yours,

JP says:

on July 1, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Hey Joe!

For a guy who spends so much time talking about the light, you are really good at nailing the moment.

uu says:

on July 3, 2011 at 10:20 am

Nice to be visiting your blog again.
Thank you for sharing .

Branqueamento Dentário says:

on July 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Great post, mcNally!!!

Aaron Wulf - Become A Photographer says:

on July 23, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Keith sounds like such a character. That’s a great shot of him, Joe.

I have faith you guys will be ready for the Time Warner Center show!

Gadgets says:

on November 20, 2011 at 9:50 am

Hello, I found your website by Google search engine. figured I should take a look around. I would read your site frequently. Thanks.

cartridge ink says:

on December 24, 2012 at 12:40 am

Cool post…Thank you for sharing !!!

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