SEPTEMBER 11, 2001. The date is forever seared into our memories as the day terrorists targeted the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a jetliner flying over Pennsylvania. When those planes crashed. When those towers fell. When fires raged. When thousands died, we grieved. Individually. And collectively as a nation.
Yet, as a Minnesotan nearly 1,200 miles removed from New York City and D.C. and Pennsylvania, I did not experience the same depth of fear and grief as others much nearer to the target sites or with loved ones lost.
Sure, I remember where I was—at home with my kindergarten age son and another boy in my care. I remember how the boys stacked wooden toy blocks and then crashed toy airplanes into the two towers, copying the scenes played and replayed on television because I could not bring myself to shut off the TV.
I recall, too, the eeriness, the feelings of uncertainty and worry and disbelief.
But none of this, none of this second-hand experience, compares to those who lived it and saw it. Like NYC photographer Keith Goldstein, a gifted creative whose work I follow on his blog, Far Earth Below. Keith excels in portrait photography. On the street, not the studio. Real. Everyday life. Raw and emotional and difficult sometimes to view. But honest in every way.
Keith was there on 9/11. He saw the devastation, destruction, death as he headed from his East Village home toward the towers. He found himself unable to photograph the horror unfolding before him. But several years later, as construction began on the Freedom Tower, he lifted his camera to undertake a project, “Looking On, Watching the Building of the Freedom Tower.”
The photos of people watching construction of the tower are signature Keith Goldstein. Honest. Emotional. Real. Every time I view Keith’s work, I wonder how he does it. How does he manage these focused, powerful images without his subjects noticing his presence? It’s a gift, a talent honed from years of experience.
That talent was recognized by Olympus Passion, which published a portion of his “Looking On” project in November 2018. Keith shared that publication on his blog today and I invite you to study his images and read the story he wrote about his 9/11 experiences. I expect you will be as impressed as I am by his work and the insights his photos provide.
I invite you also to continue following Keith’s photo blog. I appreciate how his images show me a world far removed from my Minnesota home. A world much different. Yet, a world I need to see because, even though my life and world are much different than his, we still live in this place called America.
Keith is as kind and decent and caring as they come. We’ve communicated occasionally via email, so I know this to be true. Several years ago he gifted me with a colorful print on aluminum of an immigrant vending t-shirts. My choice of photos. Choosing an image proved challenging. But I wanted a portrait. Signature Keith.
As different as we are, we are connected by our love of photography. And by our desire to share the world we view through our cameras.
© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
So touched by this post Audrey, thank you. As different as the parts of the country we come from, what drew me to your blog was the warmth, the love, the genuine sense of place you call home. May we all go safely through these trying times.
You are welcome, Keith. And thank you for appreciating my blog. I value your specific insights. And, yes, may we all go safely through these trying times.
It was interesting to view some of Keith’s work. Thanks for highlighting it for us.
You are welcome. Keith is just an exceptionally talented photographer.
I will never forget and it brings a rollercoaster of emotions forward for me due to an incident that happened on the one-year anniversary of 9/11 with a family member. I really try to not reflect on the sadness and look to the positive and goodness. It is hard with everything going on right now at times though. Be Safe and Take Care.
I’m sorry about that obviously painful incident with a family member.
And, yes, I agree that staying positive these days presents a challenge.
I think that a lot of us have forgotten the bond we all shared at that time. We were all collectively Americans regardless of our differences
That’s a really good point.