Rob Clark/Institute – From my roof on 9-11

Interview with Robert Clark on this sequence he made on 9-11..Rob was my good neighbor for 4 years.



Rob tell me about the making of this picture..this sequence


I had just come back from spending the night at the house of my girlfriend..Got to 475 Kent at 8:30am ..She called me after and told me a plane had hit the Twin towers…The view from my apartment was of the Twin Towers, but I was on the computer , my back was to this scene..

Luckily, I had my cameras ready to go and packed because I was set to go on a Natgeo story…So i grabbed the whole kit and headed for the roof

DAH  ..

How long were you on the roof before you saw this second plane coming?


I got up to the roof at 8:54 a.m. and the second plane hit Tower #2 at 9:03 a.m., so I did not have much time to think. I had a 280mm (converted) lens and shooting film. I was composing and shooting Tower #1 burning, thinking that was THE shot. I had only 10 pictures left on the roll , when I saw the second plane coming…The first picture above was the second picture I took, frame #25…I shot the rest of the roll in the next 10 seconds….I knew i had it… Certain. Was also certain the world had just changed.


I remember seeing you that day riding your bike up 6 th avenue, heading uptown..I was walking up too, and I remember you offered me your bike..This must have been just a few hours after you took this picture. I never forgot that offer. I think you have a real sense of community in you Rob. I mean you built population of the now famous Kibbutz where we all lived and from our roof this picture was made. Do you miss our kibbutz community since you have now moved away?


Yes of course. It was a real photographic  inspiration just living in that building. After all we had Chris Anderson, Tim Hetherington, Alex Majoli, Stanley Greene, Paolo Pellegrin, Thomas Dvorzak, Lorena Ros, David Coventry and Alex Di Suvero and oh yea, you!! So many many good times and of course the list of visitors to that building is EVERYBODY in the biz.. I mean almost everybody in the photo world in New York came to our building. You played no small part in that yourself Harvey.


Well you made this historic picture before I moved into the building. But you were a great neighbor for 3 years . If I needed a cup of sugar , you had one. All good things do indeed come to an end. Damn. Those golden years at the Kibbutz went by too fast. Fortunately we all have so many other pictures from this rooftop , that we can try to forget yours. Great shot, but we do want to forget ..Right?


Now on the 10th anniversary, we realize we really cannot forget. Because it is more than a memory. It is still happening. An ongoing attack. Or at least we think it is. Affects still today almost every aspect of our lives. Not just America. Worldwide.
Related links

Rob Clark


Editor’s note:

Rob will be jumping in on the comments today to answer your questions… – dah

65 Responses to “Rob Clark/Institute – From my roof on 9-11”

  • …can you make a 40 print selection for Sydney?
    i think im very close to this number, although in the next 2 weeks im gonna be happily flooded by photos especially from europe that still on the AIR/mail, flying to Texas..

    and yes, yes..if i only knew! one thing for sure, i’ll never attempt this again!!!
    (although i dont sound convincing on the latter, do i? ;)

  • ROB:

    hey, nice to see this ICONIC sequence at BURN. What has always struck me so profoundly about the series of images (it did when I first saw it published in 2001 and even now) is its surreal, Comic-book feel which contrasts so profoundly with the catrosphic truth of the image. For me, it was almost impossible to fathom that this series, which so ‘miraculously’ captured the event in its utter surreal and devastating nature, looks so ‘unreal.’ It did and still does look like 4 panels from a Superman, or Batman or (fill in the superhero) any DC/Marvel comic book (the sequence, the shark-like determination of the creeping plane, the extraordinary blue sky and black plume, the ‘wham’ of the colorful impac) and when realizes what is about to happen/happens/happened all in 4 panels, it numbs….a GREAT image/sequence from an horrendous moment…it still looks and feels like a comic strip (and i mean this Rob in the most complimentary way) just as much of that day felt to me then, and still does 10 years later…only it wasn’t a comic book, but a day that alterned many things, mostly for the ill….

    thanks for publishing the work again Rob here on BURN

    As for that day and yesterday…well…much to say, but no energy…i feel, mostly, now as Nina does…but not entirely, because i knew 2 people who died in the towers (one who most likely lost his life when the first plane hit) and of course a survivor, Marc, is my closest friend…i remember that day well…have written about it before, so will pass this opportunity to do again…i will say that it seems to me that nothing, or almost nothing, came from that day of any good…or rather, the reaction of the american nation, generally, broke my heart and the american government simply abused the grief of so many to war and waste so much for so little….anyway, i’ll wait for another time, and for now, generally (but not in whole) stand beside Nina….

    as for yesterday, after watching Marc read his part of those that died, and turn to look toward Laurence and Seren, I wrote him and then spent the rest of the day with my wife and a friend from Moscow, walking, talking, swallowing light and life…later to read and spend time watching planet with the apes….not quite as raucus as Michelle’s, but beautiful enough…

    thanks for publishing this guys


  • PANOS,

    Remind me of the address to send a print to, please?
    Any stipulations as to size? Rolled in a tube OK?

  • Panos skoulidas

    1115 S.Alamo st , #2308

    San Antonio Texas 78210

  • Michele Bachmann is arguably a virtually hairless biped of some hominid variety. Either that or she inadvertently ingested a crustacean-like alien at a church function that will some day explode from her abdomen. Or maybe she fell asleep next to a giant seed pod (other than Marcus) making her appear human (sort of).

  • thanks Ross, 11×14 inch min..Tube is perfect! cant wait!

  • By the way, Bob Black – I actually don’t mean to denigrate the memorial events. It’s just that I remember how painfully raw and unadulterated the initial emotions were. Ten years later, it’s difficult for me to parse out the bitterness, rancor, frustration and overall feeling of disappointment I have. I believe our nation reached a point of no return in the demise of the empire with the election of GWB. After the 2004 elections, I felt a level of disgust such as I had never previously experienced. And with that a constant escalating anger. I made several trips to Mexico because it was a better way to channel that rage into something constructive, creative and positive. It seemed a better use of time and energy than sparring with Tea Baggers on Facebook.

  • the migrants doesn’t look positive………….

  • Michelle (monkeypoint) :)…

    you don’t have to explain to me. i have the same. the ONLY part of the memorials that i could stomach were the name readings…and even then i wished we’d been a braver nation to read all the names of the soldiers killed or mamed and wounded in afghanistan and iraq and then read all the names of the civilians killed in iraq and afghanistan…i hate nationalism, i laothe patriotism, i disdain chauvinism…i have nothing but digust too for the former presidency et al. and not much, i’m afraid, more for the current administration….when i wrote my essay for Marc’s ARTIFACTS (published in BURN) I recieved alot of negative comments privately (for both being jingoist/american…and for being not patriotic enough, etc)…i published an essay about my disappointment with morning ‘our’ dead but refusing to mourn all the civilians killed in iraq/afghanistan…and even on my flight 2 weeks ago to NC, i had an interesting conversation with a women next to me on the plan about the devolution of the american body politic….i dislike ALL nations, for nationism means, a priori, that one is better than another…a failure of both love and compassion and understanding…the way i deal with the anger i had was to make that right: to help others and to focus on what is important and to attend to those who i know who suffer, ..and that includes donations for iraqi/afghani projects and immigrants and well…anyway…..

    all that my memorial means is that i lost 2 people (one photographer) i knew, and another friend lost a father, and those loses remind me of all the parents and children who lost out everywhere….

    what can i say….

    except that we must also try to understand grief…there is no correct response to grief…and even when grief blinds people (as it has for america), i try to understand that……etc…i don’t feel like writing, but i know u get what i’m saying…

    place not your faith in nations Michelle, there are better harbours for your heart….and for your energy indeed….

    i’m with Nina on her anger and digust…but with that we must also try to understand the grief that is real…if not we become too much like the very people we abhor….i want to not shut myself off from any response, otherwise how will i hope to understand it and to live through it…

    but alas, to most americans, there is nothing as grand as that shinning nation on the hill….sadly…

  • ALL

    Thank you for your kind hearts and words. This community, most of who I haven’t had the fortune of meeting in person, has proven to be a real support during tough times.

    The main thing that I’ve learned through the deaths of my father and then my wife earlier this year, is that talking about the untimely loss of a loved one and dealing with it standing in the fire, is essential in the healing process. Painful but healing at the same time.

  • Panos, what is your deadline? MAYBE by early to mid-next week I could send a print, but no chance before that.

  • this website is a good source of information concerning the ‘cost of war’.

  • starts october 8th…patiently waiting…go for it..u can do it!!!!!!!!

  • So few of the people living on the planet actually saw either of the planes hit those buildings with their own eyes. What the rest of us now all see in our memories are the views that others had through the lenses of their cameras.

    Try to imagine how we would think and feel about this huge event without the still and moving images from Robert Clark and the others who were photographing that day. Would it be possible to imagine the way it looked or feel the horror in the same way without them? But such memory is all a very recent phenomenon.

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