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Nepal celebrated the 60th anniversary of the conquest of Mount Everest on Wednesday by honoring climbers who followed in the footsteps of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. Nepalese officials offered flower garlands and scarfs to the climbers who took part in the ceremony. They were taken around Katmandu on horse-drawn carriages followed by hundreds of [...]

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Ira Block

9/11: Faces Of Hope

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Thousands of survivors have walked the difficult path of recovery since the September 11, 2001 bombings of the World Trade Center.

And although I began documenting this horrific event shortly after the attacks, focusing on the people who emerged from the burning twin towers alive proved to be not only a daunting, but also a highly emotional task. Previously, I shot a story on the efforts to rebuild the downtown area and I also photographed the Twin Towers of Light on the six month anniversary of the attacks, but this was a different challenge.

I started by photographing the personal objects that were carried out of the towers and also the items that were salvaged during the clean-up process from the rubble. A pair of men’s loafers worn during the escape from a crumbling tower, a framed family picture carried by a woman whose thoughts were of surviving for her children, a crushed fireman’s helmet discovered buried under debris, all speak of the personal experiences that keep the memory of history vivid and fresh, even as the immediacy of tragedy fades.

Taking these pictures was a very emotional experience for me, knowing that some of the items I was shooting belonged to people who had perished. I had access to Hangar 17 at Kennedy International Airport, where some of the large pieces of the Twin Towers were being stored. Photographing what were once the two tallest buildings in the world, now reduced to fragments of metal was unnerving. I began to realize that documenting personal items and pieces of the Towers was not giving me the mood I wanted to achieve. It was too somber, too devastating. Ten years after the tragedy, my goal was to focus on the positive. To achieve this, I shifted my perspective to the living.

If these photos have a mission, it if this: to capture the images of the survivors, those who have moved forward anchored by faith, fortitude or family and those who still struggle with a healing process that remains painful, drawn out and elusive. Each has a story to tell.

Following the 10 year anniversary of the attacks, these photos were exhibited at Fotocare in New York City.

 

Bio

Ira Block is an internationally renowned photojournalist, teacher, and workshop leader who has produced over 30 stories for the National Geographic Magazine and its affiliates N.G. Traveler and Adventure.

He began his career as a newspaper photographer, earning numerous press club awards. As an expert in lighting, Ira is sought after for assignments ranging from shooting ancient artifacts in Greece to photographing dinosaur fossils in the Gobi desert and documenting Moche mummies in Peru. His momentous coffee table book “Saving America’s Treasures” was a collaborative effort among the Clinton White House, National Geographic Society, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Ira’s unique vision and outstanding lighting skills have made him the “go to photographer” for complex assignments.

He taught the first creative, digital photography class at the School for Visual Arts in New York City and is frequently called upon to review and critique the latest digital cameras and lenses. He works closely with National Geographic Expeditions lecturing and teaching photography around the world. Ira has also taught workshops in Bangkok and Maine, Abu Dhabi and San Diego, Boston, Seattle and New York City.

In addition to his editorial work Ira shoots commercial and corporate images, portraits, promotional materials and advertising for leading institutions. He also produces corporate digital webcast videos. His photographic exhibit “Faces of Hope”, portraits of survivors and images of objects retrieved from the aftermath of the World Trade Center tragedy, are part of the permanent collection of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

His most recent story in the October National Geographic “Earth Before the Ice”, investigates a prehistoric global warming. Ira lives in New York City with his wife and is a frequent blogger on the latest digital camera equipment and gear, lighting techniques, and creative vision in photography.

 

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Ira Block

 

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More than 20,000 photographs, from over 130 countries were submitted to the National Geographic Photography contest, with both professional photographers and amateur photo enthusiasts participating. The grand prize winner was chosen from the three category winners: Nature - Shikhei Goh, People - Izabelle Nordfjell, Places - George Tapan. Shikhei Goh, of Indonesia, took the grand prize honors with his amazing photograph of a dragonfly in the rain and will be published in the magazine. The competition was judged on creativity and photographic quality by a panel of experts composed of field biologist and wildlife photojournalist Tim Laman, National Geographic photographer Amy Toensing and National Geographic nature photographer Peter Essick. The winning submissions can be viewed at http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/ - Paula Nelson (14 photos total)
Grand Prize Winner and Nature Winner - SPLASHING: This photo was taken when I was taking photos of other insects, as I normally did during macro photo hunting. I wasn’t actually aware of this dragonfly since I was occupied with other objects. When I was about to take a picture of it, it suddenly rained, but the lighting was just superb. I decided to take the shot regardless of the rain. The result caused me to be overjoyed, and I hope it pleases viewers. Batam, Riau Islands, Indonesia (Photo and caption by Shikhei Goh)

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There's still time! The deadline for entries for this year's National Geographic Photo Contest is November 30. Photographers of all skill levels (last year more than 16,000 images submitted by photographers from 130 countries) enter photographs in three categories: Nature, People and Places. The photographs are judged on creativity and photographic quality by a panel of experts. There is one first place winner in each category and a grand prize winner as well. The following is a selection of 54 entries from each of the 3 categories. The caption information is provided and written by the individual photographer. -- Paula Nelson (54 photos total)
LONE TREE YELLOWSTONE: A solitary tree surviving another harsh winter in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. (Photo and caption by Anita Erdmann/Nature/National Geographic Photo Contest)

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