Newhouse Military Photojournalism Program Graduate Reflects on His Photos from Ground Zero
by: Mike York
Preston Keres, a graduate from the S.I. Newhouse Public School of Communications Military Photojournalism Program, woke up on Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001 expecting a normal work week. As a Petty Officer 1st Class in the US Navy, Keres worked as a military journalist and communications professional. He worked on “All Hands” magazine, a Navy flagship magazine, that published stories, historical information, letters from commanding officers, and pictures documenting naval missions. After turning on the TV, he and fellow Seaman Jim Watson witnessed the 9/11 attacks like most people did, through the breaking news that streamed from Manhattan, Washington DC and Pennsylvania. Their workweek was going to be anything but normal.
The USS Comfort would be dispatched in response to the attacks and arrived at Pier 92 on the west side of Manhattan on September 14, 2001 with hundreds of Navy medical personnel and medical civilians on board. “Our mission was solely to go up there and document and tell the story about the Navy’s response,” says Keres. The National Guard had cleared the area of any media presence. He and Watson arrived in uniform. “Because we were in uniform, we were able to get in and not have any issues in that sense,” he said. Keres says he and Watson seemed to be the only still photographers on site.
We recently sat down with Keres, and learned about his experience looking through his lens and he shared some of his photos from ground zero. The following photos were all taken by him and the captions are directly his thoughts as well. You can view more on his Facebook.
This photo was only two blocks away. But it was like a ghost town. Not even the residents were there, it was complete isolation and destruction. I’ll never forget an abandoned baby carriage at battery park, you can just envision exactly what Momma was thinking while walking her baby, and everything hits the fan. She grabs baby and takes off leaving the stroller and heads off run and not knowing where she’s going. It was just insane. The stuff that’s going through your brain out there, and just the magnitude and how small everyone looked when you actually backed away to see. Link
That’s the towers behind. You can see it sort of like the shape of those towers that they had at the bottom of the tower, that was like a cathedral. It had a cathedral column feel. Link
I spoke about this one earlier in regard to the fundraising and wide spread publicity that Riley the rescue dog received. A few years later the owner of Riley let me know that he had passed and that all these photos really made a huge difference in not only their families, but the overall effort to help bring attention to rescue dogs. That kind of stuff is what made me feel this has a purpose. Link