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Ten Years On…..

Aug 9

In Friends, News at 6:11am

Bill Butler was with Josephine Harris and five other members of Ladder 6, inside the North Tower of WTC when it came down. They resolutely stuck with Josephine, refusing to leave her, despite her painfully slow rate of descent. Bill half carried her, cajoling her all the way about seeing her grandchildren again. The building came down, and the miracle of Josephine’s pace put all of them in a fourth floor stairwell that remained intact. Somehow, as the building came down, crushing everything around it, they, and Josephine, survived.

Bill Butler, 2001, Firefighter, Ladder 6, FDNY

While trapped with Harris and his ladder company in Stairwell B, Butler used a cell phone to call emergency numbers but couldn’t get through. As a last effort, he called his home in Orange County, N.Y. His wife, Diane, answered.

“I just said, “Hi, what are you doing?” I was trying to be nonchalant. She said, “Where are you?” I said “We’re at the World Trade Center.” She asked, “Is everything okay?” Then I said, “Well, we have a little problem. We’re trapped in the Trade Center, but we’re okay.” Then she started to cry a little bit, because she knew there was no World Trade Center. At that point I said, “Listen, you can’t cry. I have to give you some information. You have to call the firehouse or call someone and tell them where we’re at.”

Lieutenant Bill Butler, FDNY, Aug. 3, 2011

Ten years later, Bill is a lieutentant with FDNY, serving at Ladder 56, Engine 48, up in the Bronx. His memories of the day are still vivid, even with the passing of time. Shot this, along with a video interview with Bill, just last week. The interview, and the portraits open at the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, on Aug. 24th.

Exhibition made possible with the generous sponsorship of Nikon USA, Johnson & Johnson, JP Morgan, and friends of the collection.

More tk….

Teymur Madjderey (icedsoul photography) says:

on August 9, 2011 at 6:15 am

So wonderful and great!

Congratulations again Joe!

cory Lum says:

on August 9, 2011 at 6:16 am

thanks for sharing joe


Jesper Vang Skærbæk Jensen says:

on August 9, 2011 at 6:18 am

Wish I could see this at The Time Warner Center …. :-)

Joe Sankey says:

on August 9, 2011 at 6:21 am

Brilliant work, Joe.

Kris Mitchell says:

on August 9, 2011 at 6:22 am

Dammit Joe. You’re going to make me well up with these stories…

Nancy McPeak says:

on August 9, 2011 at 6:37 am

While our eceomy crumbles and our leaders squabble, this reminder of our strength and our ability to unify when needed is a breath of fresh air. I hope to get to New York to see this exhibit. Thank you so much for using your talent in this way and reminding us not to forget. God bless all of our 9/11 heroes and their families.

David says:

on August 9, 2011 at 6:39 am

Please, Joe, make some (or all) of the stuff you are going to show available online after the exhibition! I’ve been witnessing 9/11 and the great things you’re doing for and about these men from the distance.
I’ll be in NYC next week (first time)—it’s a shame that I will be leaving just days before you start the exhibition.

All the best. Keep up the good work (and blog)!

René Bruun says:

on August 9, 2011 at 7:00 am

Hey Joe, this is incredible. My first trip to NYC was in August 2001. I remember being on the roof of the WTC and saying to a friend, wow, I can’t believe how low the planes fly, I am surprised none of them have crashed into the building…. Little did I know of the events that were going to unfold weeks later. Even though I am from Dublin, I wear my FDNY 343 badge with pride and will never forget…

Dennis Pike says:

on August 9, 2011 at 7:10 am

I find myself at a loss for words. But I can definitively say this. I am 100% going to see these in person, and I will make sure to bring tissues.

hd says:

on August 9, 2011 at 7:43 am

Touching story, heart wrenching personal history and a wonderfully warm, human portrait.

Would I be rude to ask for a numnuts-esque lighting sketch or description. Wondering how you created this broad, warm light with the extra pop on Bill’s face.

(Bill: thank you for being there) (you too, joe!)

Libby says:

on August 9, 2011 at 8:03 am

God bless all from 9/11 – the living and the dead. God bless those who stood up in front of the giant Polaroid 10 years ago and again more recently. And God bless you, Joe, for the sensitivity you have shown and show now in capturing the spirit of these people.

Mike Sweeney says:

on August 9, 2011 at 8:13 am

Amazing story Joe – you were given a gift of a lifetime to take the photographs of these folks and to share it with the rest of us. Thank you.

Thomas Churchwell says:

on August 9, 2011 at 8:16 am

I was there Joe. At ground Zero before they sent me to Chelsie Piers to help victims find the body’s which was laid out on the ice rink. Read it here in a article written o September 15th 2001:

Bob says:

on August 9, 2011 at 8:26 am

hard to imagine…harder to forget

David says:

on August 9, 2011 at 8:46 am

As usual, your 9/11 stories are emotional.
Bill looks great regardless of the ‘graying’.
Thx again for sharing.

John says:

on August 9, 2011 at 8:47 am

Inspirational work. I’m continually amazed by your ability to touch my mind and my soul with your work.

Bill Tongue says:

on August 9, 2011 at 8:56 am

Lt. Bill – The new American Gothic (seated)

Arjan Bruinstroop says:

on August 9, 2011 at 9:03 am

As a dutch fire fighter and photographer i really admire the way you let these pictures tell their story’s So beautifull…….

Great job!

Debra says:

on August 9, 2011 at 9:03 am

Thank you, as always Joe. We won’t ever forget the magnatuide of the events on 9/11/2001. The human stories like Bill Butlers, are what we have to keep in our hearts. Your images are a beautiful reminder, of how our citizens were testecd, and responded with dignity and courage.

Ryan O. Hicks says:

on August 9, 2011 at 9:08 am

If you get some free time Joe check out my firefighter series on flickr.

John Fowler says:

on August 9, 2011 at 9:09 am

What a wonderful story Joe, thank you very, very much. This is a wonderful thing you’re doing. Please tell Lt. Butler how proud we all are of him and his colleagues.

I so much wish I could be there for the opening, but I’m a long way from NYC.

JerseyStyle Photography says:

on August 9, 2011 at 9:11 am

These storie and images are giving me chills…

Is that a doorstop in his helmet? I see he had the tool in both photos.

~ Mark

Sang says:

on August 9, 2011 at 9:35 am

Amazing story. Thanks for sharing Joe. Love the photo, he’s amazing and it shows in the photograph.

Michael Reinhart says:

on August 9, 2011 at 11:32 am

People like this are the REAL reason why America is great.

Shaunna Sparks says:

on August 9, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Wow! So what an inspiring story! We need to always remember these heroes! Truly amazing!

Dave Kallaway says:

on August 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Um…yeah…what do ya say. Speechless…

Jenene Waters says:

on August 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Heroes…every damn one of them

Paul says:

on August 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Such an amazing story. Such brave people. Kudos to you, Joe, for continuing to tell their stories, and tell them so well in your work.

Jeff Mulvihill, Jr. says:

on August 9, 2011 at 4:57 pm

These stories are SO powerful… I’m a photographer… I’m involved with sports more than anything… being “out on the street” we hear stories that make you stop and REALLY think about how lucky the majority of the people on the face of the earth are that we’re health and have relatively trouble free lives… then you run into stories that Joe has or a 7 year old girl with a blood disorder… she’s a fighter… her bone marrow donor is her Little League All Star brother… I met them during the tournament… as soon as the tournament was over they were headed to the SF Bay Area to “fix” his little sister… such powerful stories and I’m just here snapping photos… life is amazing, being a photographer can be amazing…

kathyjan says:

on August 9, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Every time you post a story about 911 I tear up. This one was no exception. Such a reminder of the power of human love and interaction – of aligning with the pace of our elders – of letting the magnitude of the universe’s wisdom take care of us. What a gift you have been given to be a part of telling these stories. Thank You.

Ivan says:

on August 9, 2011 at 9:14 pm

I worked in 7 world trade. This brought back some painful memories, but reminded me of the heroes from that day.

Rene Miranda says:

on August 10, 2011 at 12:41 am

I saw your original exhibit at Rockefeller Plaza a year after 911. Powerful images, moving yet beautiful portraits.

Susan Peden says:

on August 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Years ago, I saw the 9-11 images in a book. They were somehow the best portraits I had ever seen. I did not know who you were or what you did. They helped with the pain of that time. Thank you.

Susan Peden

Kim says:

on August 11, 2011 at 8:02 am

In tears after reading that. Wow.

Gus Samarco says:

on August 11, 2011 at 8:32 am

Congratulations Joe. I know you worked hard to have those images preserved.
Hopefully I’ll get to see it.

bill says:

on August 11, 2011 at 11:56 am

How’s that D4 handle there, Joe?

Ben says:

on August 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Will be in new York on the 24 and would love to see this! Can anyone advise on what te entrance fee would be? Apologies if this is a stupid question but its my first time in NYC .. Thanks

Joe McNally says:

on August 12, 2011 at 6:10 am

its free…please stop by…joe

Alex Zyuzikov says:

on August 13, 2011 at 3:19 am

Amazing story Joe, almost made me tear up… :(

Bill says:

on August 13, 2011 at 10:01 am


Glyn Dewis says:

on August 16, 2011 at 2:39 am

These images and true accounts are priceless! Every time I read or see something on TV about 9/11 I find myself glued to the spot unable to move away…I just have to take it in.

Thanks for sharing,
All the very best to you,

Paul Songy says:

on August 16, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Wow what an amazing story, can not believe it has been 10 years already. Thank you for sharing your work Joe!

Kenji says:

on August 17, 2011 at 2:07 am

Was that picture shot with the D3X? hmm… ^_^

Kyushu, Japan.

Martin says:

on August 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Great project.. But I was wondering ..What’s the new D4 / D400 like Joe ?? :)

Robert K. says:

on August 18, 2011 at 7:15 am

A picture shot in low light, underexposed and NO use of any flash. Seriously Proffessor MacNally, this is just a teaser.
I bet you will show a picture , well exposed and shot at 12800 ISO with the new D4.
After the 24. of course 😉

Rebecca Thron says:

on August 18, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Hi Joe, I think this is amazing, I heard you describe this project in Philly this past spring and we’ve had this on our calendars to attend. Is this only on the 24th? Or will it be running through the weekend?

Dave Hutchinson says:

on August 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm

A touching story Joe. Thanks for sharing!

JP says:

on August 23, 2011 at 2:09 am

I really really really want to go to that exhibition. I wanted to 10 years ago. Being a student sucks.

I’d pay admission to see the video interviews online!

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