On the topic of the frozen moment constructed and captured, I chose to research the ‘Falling Man’ photograph taken by Richard Drew during the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York on the morning of September 11th 2001. The identity of the man remains unknown.
Richard Drew; a photographer for the Associated Press, who also happened to be one of four photographers present during the assassination of Robert F Kennedy, captured this shocking image as one of approximately 200 citizens trapped in the upper floors of North Tower made the decision to jump from the building. Drew was originally hired to be photographing a maternity pageant nearby on the morning of the attacks, when he was give word that there had been an explosion at the World Trade Center and rushed to the scene where he deliberately did not wear his press pass in order to be given the chance to mingle with the rest of the civilians as the event unfolded.
I think the most remarkable thing about this image, is that although we know he is falling to an imminent death; it is almost as if his fall has allowed him some peace for a moment. Looking at the image we struggle to put ourselves in his position, what would be going through his mind when this was taken? Would I have jumped? The unidentified man’s graceful posture makes him seem relaxed, different to the rest of the photographs published from that day that show blood, ash and debris.
In an interview with Peter Howe for the Digital Journalist, Drew explained why he disagrees with the negative response to his image “This is how it affected people’s lives at that time, and I think that is why it’s an important picture. I didn’t capture this person’s death. I captured part of his life. This is what he decided to do, and I think I preserved that.”
The reactions to this photograph were extremely mixed. Some feel it was right to be published, to let people see the real horrors that occurred which national news reports would not show. Others disagreed however; the photograph has been labelled by some to be distasteful, exploitive and disturbing.