9/11 Memorial Lights

9/11 Memorial Lights

Two months ago I went to lower Manhattan to photograph the 9/11 memorial lights. In the years since the terrorist attacks I’d never photographed them and didn’t know what to expect, either in terms of finding a good vantage point or knowing how long the exposures should be. I spent some time circling the lights along West Street and took one roll of film, bracketing the exposures between roughly one and three minutes. Then I got lucky and was kindly invited to the garage rooftop where the lights were actually located. It was already late and the ceremonies that had taken place there earlier in the evening were over, leaving just a handful of photojournalists shooting the lights for their respective media employers.

Excited, I shot two rolls of film before — ugh — my camera jammed and I was forced to call it a night. I was hopeful about the results and felt confident I’d gotten some good images, but I really never know if there’s anything good until I see the negatives. I picked up the developed film a few days later only to find that all the shots I’d taken on West Street were underexposed and that most of the shots I’d taken on the rooftop were either underexposed or had been ruined by a processing error. Disappointed, I didn’t look at the negatives again until last weekend when, to my happy surprise, I found that there were in fact a couple of good shots in the batch. I made some high-res scans, tweaked the images a little in Photoshop, and — bingo! Turns out I got one I love.


  • stephanie morgan rogers on Nov 08, 2012

    all the little lights scattered amongst the beams create such a beautiful effect. very spiritual. are those windows or are they the lights you are speaking of?

    • Stefan on Nov 08, 2012

      Stephanie — yes, the scattered lights are windows in commercial and residential buildings.

  • Andy Marino on Nov 08, 2012

    Stefan, I’m blow away. I got the chills when I looked at this photo! Wonderful! Bravo!