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With Thanks…

May 21

In history at 9:48am

Visited the 9/11 Museum on Friday night. Wandering the halls there was powerfully, meaningfully difficult. The images, feelings, and audio recordings that you walk through and among were staggering in their impact, and ricochet like an emotional pinball through your entire being—head, heart and gut.

The museum is well done–beautiful, sorrowful, eloquent, uplifting and soaked in emotion. The vaulting architecture, and the sense of being deep in that ground, where the buildings once stood, feels overwhelming, just like the enormity of that day itself.

The sweep and space of the place lends itself to the echo chamber of your emotions. It is possible there, I think, to be amongst a crowd, and also totally alone with your thoughts.

The Faces of Ground Zero portrait project is a small part of the current displays. The original Giant Polaroids have yet to be rolled out onto the floor. This is very much a work in progress. As Jan Ramirez, the Chief Curator, who has done a amazing job at shepherding all these physical representations of memory into this one place said to me a couple weeks ago, most museums have months of “soft openings,” offering limited access to the public. Problems and bugs can be worked out with the advantage of time. With this one, as she said, “We just turned the lights on and opened the doors.”

I need to take this blog to thank those who have been steadfast in their support of the Giant Polaroid collection over the years, and have helped me keep this enormous group (about 10 tons) of pictures together and preserved.

Many heartfelt thanks to Adorama Camera. When Jeff Snyder introduced me to Harry Drummer at the camera store, a relationship started. They have been steadfast for years now in helping to support the collection, all of it done on a handshake with Harry. I am proud to be associated with the store.

And to Photoshelter…..Allen Murabayashi and Andrew Fingerman got together and sponsored two of the Giant Polaroids into the care and auspices of the museum, where they will remain, in perpetuity, at their behest, bearing the name of Photoshelter. Their faith in the project has been invaluable, and I thank them. Photoshelter has also been instrumental in the building of our new website, and thus have become a big part of our studio life. The assistance of Photoshelter on this journey is a representation of the best aspects of the photo community. 

The Greek Archdiocese of NY sponsored the Giant Polaroid of Archbishop Demetrios into the museum’s permanent collection last year. It is good to know his image will be cared for in the years to come. It has been my honor to photograph the Archbishop over time, especially when he asked me to shoot his official picture for the annals of the church. 

And thanks to the museum itself, with Alice Greenwald, Jan Ramirez and Amy Weinstein directing the collection process. This year they stepped forward on behalf of the images of Joanne and Danny Foley. The Foley’s are a firefighting family and, Tommy Foley was lost on 9/11, on this ground, which is now a remembrance for us all. It is fitting their pictures live here.


It has been a long and fraught path, but the destination of this museum has been worth it. More tk….




Dominique Belanger Angle says:

on May 21, 2014 at 10:47 am

I’ve seen your images (here and in your books) and they are amazing. Thank you for taking on this heavy hearted project. My family was in NYC working that day, while I was in grad school in California. I will never know what it felt like to be there that day, but even so far away, it still affected me. I’m taking my kids to NYC this summer and hope to stop in to the museum. We’ll be sure to stop by your images. Thank you, again, for taking on this project.

art meripol says:

on May 21, 2014 at 10:53 am

Exciting, humbling, heartfelt time.

Jeff Mulvihill, Jr. says:

on May 21, 2014 at 11:12 am

Joe, I know I speak for many…

Thank YOU! Yes, YOU Joe. You are an amazing human being, a true inspiration… in too many aspects of life to list…

Thank YOU Joe!

Fotodog says:

on May 21, 2014 at 11:28 am

Great article again, Joe!

What an honour to have your images hanging in the museum. I can’t wait to visit the museum and see them first hand!

James says:

on May 21, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Thanks, Joe. Appreciate the write-up.

Steve Wylie says:

on May 21, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Thanks, Joe, for your part in creating this lasting memorial. Will all of the Faces of Ground Zero be there for all to see?

JerseyStyle Photography says:

on May 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Many, many congratulations to you, Joe. When I saw the images again in 2011, I couldn’t believe just how impactful they still were. People have cornerstone moments in their life.

Faces of Ground Zero is one of yours.

~ Mark

Simon Randall says:

on May 21, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Time for a new book. The full story of the Faces of Ground Zero. From inception to their coming home to the museum. Proceeds woukd pay for more photos to placed in the museums collection.

Richard says:

on May 21, 2014 at 3:28 pm

It is through the generosity and caring of people such as yourself and the museum curators that the general public indeed the world, will never forget the atrocities of that day. Thank you

David W. says:

on May 21, 2014 at 8:09 pm

Thank you for undertaking making the images without knowing if the images would ever be shown to the world.

Thank you to you, your staff, the folks at Adorama Camera, and those nameless supporters that saw that the collection was properly stored awaiting the time it should go on display.

Emir says:

on May 21, 2014 at 11:45 pm

Greetings from Bosnia and Herzegovina, i have to say that you are THE man and watching your work and reading your books are my biggest inspiration and reason to become better in photography.
I have all of your books and i think it’s amazing how you approach to art. I would really like to attend one of your workshops sometimes.
Thanks for everything you do.

Fadi Kelada says:

on May 21, 2014 at 11:49 pm

Great deeds from great men..

Beth Lynch says:

on May 23, 2014 at 12:04 pm

With Thanks to you, Joe, for taking us there with your words and emotions! We visited there last October and will soon return again to experience visually what you have so lovingly portrayed in treasured images! We will never forget. Beth, Grandma of Marc Los Angeles, CA

Ken Toney says:

on May 26, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Can’t wait to visit the museum this summer. Thanks to all veterans past and present for our freedom.

Jim Donahue says:

on May 27, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Thanks for a great page and a Great Blpg..OBTW..What Branch of the Military did you serve.

Florian Cortese says:

on May 30, 2014 at 10:40 am

Overwhelming emotion fills many of us whenever we remember 9/11. I saw the towers go up as a young man and looked on in disbelief as they came down. Thank you so very much for capturing the life and spirit of so many who lived and died that dreadful day. You are truly amazing, Joe. Your pictures speak volumes.

Mark says:

on June 13, 2014 at 5:36 am

I visited the museum last Sunday and was so proud for you when I saw your exhibit. I’ve watched every documentary and own every book published on 9/11, including Aftermath. But walking through the museum became overwhelming. When we finally got to the exit, it was blocked and we had to walk partly back through to exit the “early exit door.”

Your work is always inspiring.

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