Michelle Delaney
Collections Manager, Photographic History Collection

"John Labriola, an amateur photographer carrying a Nikon digital camera on his way to work on September 11..."
John Labriola, an amateur photographer carrying a Nikon digital camera on his way to work on September 11 photographing the blue sky, the wonderful blue sky of this late summer day.

John was in a conference room on the 71st floor right near his office in the North tower of the WTC and his camera was back in his office. When the plane hit above, there was a jolt that sent them rolling across the office, in their chairs in the conference room. It didn't register for a few seconds what happened. John said that it looked like a ticker tape parade, papers floating out of the windows above him. But soon they realized they needed to get out, so he and his colleagues left, but he ran and got his briefcase, which had his camera in it. And you've probably seen some of John's most famous images now; they're the swirl, or blur of people going down the stairwell or the clear picture of one fireman coming up against a stream of people going down the stairwell.

The day has changed his life. He survived, basically because he went to a small church very near the site and happened to be inside the church during both of the collapses. And he took photos sporadically during the day. So you can see Wall Street, and the scene that is almost like a nuclear devastation, at least thatís how he likens it, the smoke covering everything, and looking up at the bright orange sun peeking through that smoke occasionally.

And his last photo is arriving at his sister-in-law's apartment in SoHo, just some of the signs hanging outside that building, and that's it. 110 photos, from 8:05 in the morning and this beautiful clear crisp day and taking images of the towers, to complete devastation of those towers two hours later.

He is recounting his story and heís lecturing, and he may turn into a professional photographer.