Toby Amies’s best photograph – a New York street as 9/11 happened

‘This is a photograph of an atrocity – and I’m still slightly appalled that my response was to take a picture of it’

When 9/11 happened, I’d been living on South 8th Street in Williamsburg, New York, for about a year. To the right, you can see a pale awning – that was my studio, a windowless shed. My apartment was the top flat in that three-storey red building further down.

I don’t remember the exact time I took this, though you could work it out from the state of the towers. I remember I had got up late – I’d been DJing the night before – and I needed to go to the bank, which was a block away. As I opened the door, it was such a beautiful day with an extraordinary crisp light and beautiful colours, that I thought: “Ooh, I’ll take my camera.” I went back inside and grabbed the ancient Zeiss Ikon that my grandmother had got in a swap for cigarettes during the Berlin airlift.

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