After the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center, Kelly Guenther grabbed her camera gear and ran to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade that overlooks the New York Harbor and the skyline of Lower Manhattan.
Then she saw the second plane coming.
It was on her left, flying over the Statue of Liberty and heading right for Manhattan. A sense of dread washed over her.
“I knew what was going to happen: I was going to witness hundreds of people die,” she recalled nearly 20 years later. “I remember thinking, ‘No, no, no!’ Then I took a breath and told myself, ‘Do your job.’ I put the camera to my face, framed the skyline wide in my viewfinder, and I waited for the plane to come into my frame on the left.”
Her photo, seen above, ran on the front pages of newspapers all over the world the next day. Some cropped the photo or used a sequence of two or three images, showing the plane exploding into the South Tower.
“But to me,” she said, “it is the full frame image that tells the story: the perfect blue sky, the classic NYC skyline and a black plane, frozen in time, a second before the world changed.”
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