Archive for August, 2011
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.
It’s been a hectic week, with preparations for the show, late night shoots at firehouses in the Bronx, and trip prep. Jade Mountain popped up on CNN as the hotel with the number one view in the world. And it’s where we head next week to shoot a book project, and to teach a workshop. Info about the advanced lighting techniques workshop here.
All of a sudden, dealing with the week seems easier….:-) More tk….
As we approach, somewhat unbelievably, the 10th Anniversary of 911, I’ll be posting some of the work my studio has done over the years relating to that fateful day. Just postcards and notes, really, from that time of dust and destruction, to now, a time of healing and resurgence. All these updated photos, complementing the Giant Polaroids of Sept/Oct 2001, have been a project that has taken most of our time this year. They will be on display at the Time Warner Center in NYC, starting August 24th, and running through September 12th.
From the book, Faces of Ground Zero: 2001
Father Brian Jordan, Church of St. Francis of Assisi, midtown Manhattan
In the days and weeks after the attacks, Father Jordan, who succeeded his fallen friend, Father Mychal Judge, as FDNY Chaplain, ministered to workers at Ground Zero. In a special ceremony, he rode a crane bucket up to where welders had mounted the cross-shaped girder from Tower 1, then blessed the impromptu monument. “We have seen evil at its worst, but goodness at its best. I worked to provide hope and healing–to give comfort to the living and bless the dead.”
Ten year later, Father Jordan, still a champion of the labor unions, immigrant workers, and the working people of New York City, remains busy. Almost too busy for this photo. I trailed him onto the subway, where, predictably, he was still in his trademark sneakers, moving fast, helping people.
Teaching photography is an act of passion, same as doing photography. You gotta throw yourself into it, because people are there to learn, and have given themselves a great gift–the time to do that learning. You have to return the gift by being a good teacher. So it’s kinda cool that I’m included in a group of wonderful, talented, shooters and educators in this current Photo District News article. Here’s a link to the PDN site.
I know it’s an accident of the alphabet, but it’s especially wonderful to be there, on the page, right next to Jay Maisel. I wrote a paper about Jay when I was in Photo-j school, calling him “the father of modern color photography,” which he is. He’s also a dear friend and mentor. And I’ve taken his workshop at the bank, so I can attest to how good a teacher he is, and how refreshingly blunt he is when assessing a picture on the screen. He handed me my ass more than once. Out there in the photography career thicket, amid the snares, traps, swamps and things that might eat you, lie treasures, unforeseen and unexpected, that make hacking your way through the aforementioned thicket year after year worth it. A friendship with someone like Jay is one of them. I’ve had the privilege of hanging with him, and teaching with him. I even coaxed him in front of the lens once.
I told him he had lost his ability to say “no pictures” long ago. So he sat for me. But when you see Jay through the viewfinder, time to make it fast, and bring your game. One SB-800, camera right, Lastolite Tri-grip diffuser. Done in about a minute or so. A favorite portrait of a dear friend.
Photogs are hard to shoot, right? They sit there in front of the camera, slyly observing and absorbing what you are doing. They know even before you do when you have the picture, or if you’ve gone off the rails. I was assigned to shoot Arnold Newman once. Talk about nervous. I had the notion of mimicking his light, by simply using the walls of his studio as bounce sources. Gulp.
Arnold was gracious to a fault, knowing full well how nervous this schmuck photog who just showed up at his legendary studio was. I got to know him a little bit, and he signed his amazing book, Americans, for me. He inscribed, “To Joe McNally, who has turned the tables on me, and quite nicely!” Geez…..that’s a keeper.
We also taught together a bit at the Eddie Adam’s workshop in upstate New York. It was an honor to do so. It’s an honor to teach. This business has a long and proud tradition of mentoring, and passing on young people. Happy to be a part of it….more tk….