9/11, 10 years later


I've lived in six towns in three states.
I've owned three different homes and three cars: a Volkswagon, a Jeep and a minivan. 
I left my career as a newspaper photographer and started my wedding photography business.
I adopted Dakota.
I married J.
I became a mom.

10 years. So much has changed. But so much of who I am is rooted in that one day.

Rewind to one year prior. I was working at USA Today in Washington, DC, a fresh-faced and wide-eyed recent college graduate just 22 years young. I was rubbing elbows with industry big wigs, jet setting to national political and sporting events. Loving life.

That winter, my boss assigned me to cover a story about a flight attendant who broke her neck during violent turbulence and lived near my hometown in New Hampshire. The story was slated to run the next week so it was a little reprieve from the usual run-and-gun of turning images around quickly. While I was home, however, the story was moved up to run the next day and I was scrambling to have my film (we were just transitioning to digital in 2000) processed and transmitted from a local newspaper. That may not sound like a big deal now, but back then it was a major headache. A headache that could have been much easier had I brought my company laptop home with me. I had left it behind thinking it wasn't necessary given how cumbersome traveling with my photography gear is and how quick and non-urgent the trip was anyway.

When I returned, my boss sat me down and sternly told me that photojournalists always have all of their photography gear with them at all times. More precisely he said, "You never know when a plane is going to crash into the Potomac," referencing Flight 90 that crashed into the Potomac River in 1982.

On September 11th, I was driving on route 395 from Virginia into the city when I looked to my left following the panicked gaze of the driver in the car before me and saw what was then only a small plume of smoke from the Pentagon. I missed seeing Flight 77 crash by mere seconds. Ironically, I was on the 14th Street bridge, the very scene of that 1982 plane crash. Now a photo editor for the Washington Post Magazine, my photo gear was not in my trunk every day. If it had been, I easily could have been one of the first to the scene that day. Over and over again I heard the voice of my former boss in my head reprimanding me. But by the time I reached Constitution Avenue, I made the decision to continue forward through the city and then loop back around toward home on the Beltway. Deep within me, I was moved to protect myself. A drive that should have taken 45 minutes took 5 hours. But I was safe and later covered 9/11's aftermath.

Today, I still feel the impact of that day. It doesn't haunt me, but it does remind me of how precious life is, how important family is and how significant a role that beautiful September day played in my decision to document love and not news.



  1. Very interesting and well written. I think deep down this is also why I'm not a photojournalist anymore; however, I do miss it.

  2. Everyone has their 9/11 connection. My birthday is 9/11 and my father was on a plane that departed one hour prior to the one that first hit the tower. Mom and I couldn't reach him. Eventually he got through to me in CT, reassuring me he was okay and he was going to find a way home. He just walked and walked, along with ash covered people with blank stares on their faces, shocked at what they had just witnessed. Finally someone had the idea to call the WashDC Amtrak to find out if trains were still running, since the phone lines were inundated in NYC. My mother was surprised and thankful to have my dad arrive home late that night in MA. Ten years later it still seems like yesterday, with the same blue bird sky and picture perfect weather. America Photo Magazine had a moving cover story that recounted the day through the photographers there. My thoughts are with all of people we lost and their families.


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