War Photography

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Record photographer Thomas E. Franklin had just gotten back from an assignment in the Dominican Republic. As soon as he arrived in The Record photo office, an editor immediately informed him of what had just happened. He started driving down to the World Trade Center on the Turnpike when he heard the second plane crash. Franklin hitched a ride on one of the tug boats across the Hudson River, arriving at the scene around noon. He took pictures of the scene for about an hour. He was “expecting to see death, but mostly saw mangled metals, overturned cars and ambulances, and everything covered with dust.” At around 4:30 that afternoon, while catching his breath and drinking some water, he decided to walk back to the debris. He was 150 yards away and standing under a pedestrian walkway across the West Side Highway, which connected the World Trade Center to the World Financial Center at the northwest corner, when he saw the three firefighters raising the flag. He immediately readied his lens, and took the picture. As soon as he shot it, he claims the have “realized the similarity to the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima.” This was the photograph he had been waiting for, and he knew it. Throughout the day, he was afraid that something was wrong with the camera and that the once in a lifetime picture was ruined. Thus, he immediately took the photo card out of the camera and secured it in his pocket. Puerto Rican photographer Ricky Flores, a staff photographer for The Journal News, a daily paper based in Westchester, N.Y for the pasted 8 years, was attempting the cross the Bronx-Manhattan Bridge trying to get past the police when the first tower fell. He parked his car somewhere around Canal Street, and was able to find his way into the perimeter set up by the police. As he walked closer to the site, the dust got higher and the noise got louder. He felt that the only way to get past the shocked that overwhelmed him was to shoot something, it did not matter what. As he stood on a second floor window, he saw a group of firefighters raising the American flag. He immediately shot the picture. Flores claims that what he saw “was different from everything else that he saw that day.” Thomas E. Franklin and Ricky Flores shot the same scene from different angles. Franklin’s photograph captures a frontal view of the scene while Flores’ photograph shows the raising of the flag from the higher location. Franklin’s photograph was intentionally selected over the other. It has already made it into the history books as one of the most epic photographs of all times while Flores’ picture has been consigned to oblivion. Franklin’s photograph of the raising of the American flag at ground zero was even given the official name of Ground Zero Spirit. Franklin never intended to take a photo that resembled the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. He did not realize the similarity between the two until after he had taken the photo. He essentially came across the image by chance. Thus it was intentionally compared the photograph of Iwo Jima by the editors who had the final say in the publishing of the photographs. These editors were the voice behind the photograph. By giving it an official name, as photography critic Susan Sontag describes in her essay “Looking at War”, the editors badgered the viewers, trying to get them to see the photograph the way they saw it. The photo appeared for the first time on the Record front page the morning of September 12, 2001. It appeared on multiple occasions in famous magazines such as Newsweek and ABC. The Record also put it on the Associated Press wire and it made the headline on the covers of numerous newspapers and news magazines across the world. As Michael Griffin, professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, explains in his essay Picturing America’s ‘War on Terrorism’ in Afghanistan and Ira, this powerful image of the Ground Zero spirit “was one of the visuals intercut by ABC News into a speech...
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