Monday, October 11, 2010

Desperately seeking photographer...

Quite some time ago I came upon a certain photograph taken in New York City on September 11, 2001...

I don't even remember how I got the photograph in the first place, as I obtained it at some point during my "brain tumor years", which of course makes the search that much more difficult, but I am desperate to find this photographer.  It is very important to me to find this copyright holder because I need to find out what s/he would want in order to grant me the rights to use a slightly altered version of it for the project that has become my life's obsession.  There simply is NO other shot that could possibly be as perfect for my needs than this amazing photograph.

The search has been going on for almost a year now, since shortly after the brain surgery, and so far I haven't been successful, but I'm still hopeful. 

At first I didn't even know where the photo had been taken from, even though that unique statue made it a remarkably identifiable spot.  I could tell that the shot was likely taken from New Jersey or somewhere else across the river from lower Manhattan, but the statue was unknown to me, so a good amount of time was taken up just trying to find that.  Little by little, slowly but surely, I kept plodding along trying to find more information that could lead me to the photographer of this remarkable photograph. 

Then using information that I literally received in a dream, I finally found the statue...

Actually...I think this shot is also amazing
 From the original shot, I couldn't make out anything on the statue, but it looked to me like it was likely military.  I was so surprised to learn that it was not an American military monument, but rather commemorated a horrifying event from World War II that I hadn't even known about.

In April - May 1940 almost 22,000 Polish doctors, lawyers, teachers, priests, police officers, writers, journalists and other public servants as well as members of the Polish military were rounded up by Stalin's forces, marched into the Katyn Forest and executed.

Nazi poster calling Katyn "the forest of the dead"

Incredibly moved by this story, this new information just made the picture that much MORE perfect for my needs and simply intensified my obsession with finding the creator of this photograph.

Now that I had the name of the statue, I had a better search phrase to use in my hunt to seek out the photographer of the shot I needed. 

Eventually I found a few very similar shots and started sending off letters to the credited photographers in the hopes that one of them was the photographer I was looking for. 

One of the photos was by a photographer named George Draney in Washington, New Jersey.  Clearly Mr. Draney was at the same location at ROUGHLY the same time.  However, his credited shot was obviously taken a bit later than the one I was looking for and from a slightly different angle.  In the shot I'm so obsessed with the South Tower is just starting to collapse and the North Tower is burning, but still his the North Tower had just collapsed as well, leaving just the smoke.

George Draney Photography

Unfortunately, Mr. Draney didn't have a web site, nor even an e-mail address that I was able to find. Only a phone number that constantly went unanswered, without either voice mail or even an answering machine.  So I sent him a letter via snail mail and kept my fingers crossed.  I found myself very hopeful that maybe I had found the photographer I was looking for.  But, alas...about a week after I mailed off my letter, I got a phone call from Mr. Draney and he informed me that the shot of his that I had found was taken when he first arrived on the scene.  He hadn't been there at the time the photo I was looking for had been taken.  Mr. Draney said that when he arrived there were "about 20" other photographers on the scene and he didn't know any of them, but that he would ask around and if he found anything that may be helpful to me, that he'd call me back.  I haven't heard anything back from him and don't really expect to. So, the search continued.

Next I came across another credited shot...same location, again later than the shot I was looking for. 

This one looked to me like it might have been taken much later in the day, as I think the red coloring has to do with the sun being lower in the sky.  I sent an e-mail to the credited photographer for this shot, but have gotten no response so far.

So once again, the search continued...

Next I came across what I consider to be the most promising possibility yet.  Also clearly later than the shot I was looking for as in this one the North Tower has JUST gone down, the angle of the shot is practically identical (but the squad car has been moved outside the crime scene tape).

This photographer had a number of really great shots from 9/11 on his page (see them here), and even an e-mail link asking for feedback.  I was SO hopeful.  I fired off an e-mail immediately inquiring if he was the photographer of the shot in question, which I attached.

I got a mail failure message. 

I assumed that perhaps it was rejected because of the attachment, so I sent another inquiry without an attachment...which also failed.  Now I've found a different e-mail address for that same studio, and I'm sending off an inquiry to that address today.   If that one fails, I'll try a snail mail to the studio. 

Keeping my fingers crossed....

NOTE:  If anyone has any suggestions that could help further my search, I'd be more than glad to hear them. ( - Please put "TOWER PHOTO SEARCH" in the subject line.  ~ Thank you


  1. Or you could try posting comments here...

  2. Hello Ari; I am George Draney
    You may be interested in checking out my BLOG SPOT.