Times photographers’ images of the aftermath of 9/11

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In an interview, photojournalist Mark Boster discussed how he approached his 9/11 images and what he did to make the photos more intimate. His responses have been edited for length and clarity.

The jarring sound of an early morning phone call woke me with a jolt. I thought maybe a loved one had died. Instead, it was a photo editor, just as scary, with a message and my marching orders: ”Wake up, turn on your TV — planes are crashing into buildings in New York! We want you to drive immediately to San Francisco, they might try to crash a plane into the Golden Gate Bridge.”

Shifting into high gear, I found an ATM cash machine and withdrew the maximum amount. Found another ATM, withdrew more money and headed north.

Hallie McConlogue clasps hands with others at a peace rally in San Francisco hours after the 9/11 attacks across the country.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

I stood at the viewing spot for the bridge for several hours. Luckily no planes appeared.

Since all domestic planes were grounded, fellow Times staff photographer Robert Durrell suggested I drive across the country to record the emotions of Americans after 9/11. I relayed the idea to the photo editors, who gave me the green light to proceed. My journey began after an emotional prayer and candlelight vigil in San Francisco on Sept. 11.

My story was not about racing to New York, Pennsylvania and Washington to see the crash sites, but rather to witness and tell the story of the faith, resilience and patriotism of the American people after this horrific event.

Rescue works examine the remains of a building

Workers search for survivors amid the ruins of the World Trade Center on Sept. 14, 2001.

(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

What I found during this journey was that the American people had not lost their faith. They were strong, they were stoic, and they did their best to cope with the unfathomable tragedy that unfolded. I found warmth and strength while witnessing numerous flag ceremonies, church services, high school football games and events across the heartland.

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The journey to document this story was not quick. The stories along the way were difficult and heartfelt. I wanted to tell the story of faith, strength and patriotism that triumphed over the extreme sadness of 9/11.

In the end, I found my own strength and faith, thanks to the kindness and faith of the hundreds of people that I found along the way who were willing to share their stories.

The remains of a building stands amid the rubble

Part of the World Trade Center’s south tower stands among ruins on Sept. 17, 2001.

(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

A young girl stands next to her grandmother in church

Destiny Parker hugs her grandmother, Laura McGraw, during a church service on Sept. 23, 2001, at the Quinn Chapel AME Church in Lexington, Ky.

(Mark Boster/ Los Angeles Times)

A picture of a man is held among a crowd

A picture of Timothy Hargrave, who died at the World Trade Center, is held by a relative during a third anniversary ceremony held at Ground Zero on Sept. 11, 2004.

(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

A worker labors amid rubble

A worker labors among the ruins of the World Trade Center’s north tower on Sept. 21, 2001.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

A pair of hands hold a lit candle

A candlelight vigil is held at Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco on Sept. 11, 2001.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

A man in a protective mask stands next to a group of onlookers

Matt Hand, left, and others view the World Trade Center site on Sept. 28, 2001.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

A policeman wearing a gas mask is silhouetted against the remains of a building

A New York City police officer wearing a gas mask guards the World Trade Center site on Sept. 28, 2001.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

A mother and child stand at the top of stairs

A mother and child stand at the top of the stairs overlooking the World Trade Center site after returning home for the first time since the disaster.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

A man holds a small U.S. flag and bows his head

Carter Blumeyer and fellow members of a Missouri search and rescue team attend a ceremony upon returning to Columbia, Mo., after working eight days at the World Trade Center site.

(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Candles flicker near a fence beside a river

Candles adorn a memorial at dusk on the Brooklyn promenade on Sept. 16, 2001, as smoke still rises from Manhattan.

(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

A boy wears a firefighter's helmet with a photo attached

Skylar Mercado wears a firefighter’s helmet with a photo of his father, Steve Mercado, who died at the World Trade Center.

(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

A seated woman holds a candle, her head buried in her folded arms

A woman cries during a candlelight vigil at Union Square Park in New York on Sept. 14, 2001.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Two men, alongside others, hug and cry

New York firefighters attend a funeral on Sept. 15, 2001.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

A man looks at missing-persons posters as another man walks past

Igor Tsigelman, left, of Brooklyn, looks at posters of people missing since the 9/11 attacks on what became known as the Wall of Prayers outside Bellevue Hospital.

(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

A woman, left foreground, stands among a group encircling candles and flowers

Eve Cheung attends a candlelight vigil at Union Square Park in New York on Sept. 24, 2001.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Photo editing by Jacob Moscovitch.

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