Midstate photographer shares Sept. 11 photos, memories - abc27 WHTM

Midstate photographer shares Sept. 11 photos, memories

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© Daniel Shanken © Daniel Shanken
© Daniel Shanken © Daniel Shanken
© Daniel Shanken © Daniel Shanken
© Daniel Shanken © Daniel Shanken

The flag outside his Harrisburg studio flies at half-staff to remember September 11, but the man inside that studio has done much more to make America remember that fateful day.

"This one ran in Newsweek, a double-page spread," freelance photographer Daniel Shanken said as he scrolled through images on his computer monitor.

Twelve years ago, the Harrisburg native lived in Manhattan. He saw the smoking towers on television, grabbed his camera and raced to the Brooklyn Bridge to snap history as it unfolded.

"I thought every photographer was gonna be down at Ground Zero, and I didn't see anyone else on the bridge, so I stayed put and worked the evacuation over the bridge," he said.

Shanken took his photos to the Associated Press, and two pictures in particular have become icons. One has "Welcome to Manhattan" in the foreground as New Yorkers fled across the bridge being chased by smoke and tormented by terror.

Another shows the entire bridge enveloped by brown-gray dust.

The pictures continue to be shown in newspapers around the world and were given a two-page spread in Newsweek.

"It's really just a couple of images," Shanken said. "A couple of notes in the big score that was written that day, but I'm really proud to have been able to contribute those two images."

But Shanken didn't contribute everything on that day. He kept a roll of film for himself; a very significant roll.

"We're gonna see the South Tower as it buckles and then collapses and people in the foreground are unaware," he said.

Shanken, while putting fleeing New Yorkers in the foreground and the tower in the background, captured the exact moment the building fell down. He shares his photos and his recollections.

"I heard it," he said. "I heard it fall before I saw it so I steadied myself."

Shanken said he also heard a voice in his head whispering, "keep shooting, stay calm and stay focused."

His focus was laser-like and he didn't miss the big moment. He says he never cried after September 11, but no longer shoots human tragedy; focusing now on happier subjects like food and his two children.

"When I got to the AP and saw the other images that were being produced that day, people jumping from the towers, my heart sank," he said. "It quickly became apparent to me that the sadness involved with journalism wasn't something I wanted to pursue anymore."

He's had opportunities.

"I wouldn't be a part of the Amish school shooting. I wouldn't do the Sandusky story. I was called to do both, but I turned them both down," he said.

Shanken is 43 now, was 31 on September 11, and he takes satisfaction in knowing he's produced work that will live forever.

"I wanted to rise to the occasion, to be a part of history," he said. "What artist, what journalist, doesn't want their story to be told again and again and again?"

Shanken said he didn't make much money for the photos. What he did earn, he donated to charities to help families of the September 11 victims.


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