"In September of 2003, The New-York Historical Society hosted my 2nd museum exhibit, titled '9/11: Loss and Remembrance', which was composed of several portraits I had done of a group of men at Ground Zero known as the BAND OF DADS. They were comprised mostly of retired FDNY firemen who were persistently digging at Ground Zero for their missing firefighter sons. I befriended them over the months and was inspired by each of their stories and refusal to walk away from the WTC site until every last piece of debris was cleared. Some of the men were fortunate enough to find their sons while others left empty-handed and broken-hearted.

I wanted to immortalize this unique group of men and their sons by shooting portraits of them holding a personal item that had belonged to their sons. In the last week of the recovery efforts at Ground Zero, I shot a few men but then decided it was best to leave it be as I knew this was a tough time for them. That's when retired Lieutenant Paul Geidel of Rescue 1 said to me 'If you're going to shoot one of us, then you might as well shoot all of us.' With that, each day I photographed a different man. Some of them had lost their dads, others lost their sons and some lost their brothers. They each brought a sentimental item and the shoots were very emotional and filled with tears. It will rank as the most trying photographs I have ever taken but well worth it because each family was so pleased that the memory of their loved one was immortalized on film.

Many times through the shoots I had to stop as the men would well up with emotion at the reality of the fact that this was it: The recovery was over and their son or brother was never coming home. My heart expanded twenty-fold and I will forever respect each of these men not just for who they are as people but for having the courage to partake in these photo sessions on behalf of their fallen FDNY son, brother or dad. I hope that those of you who view these images will appreciate them as much as I do." - Gary Suson, July 2004

 

 
Lee Ielpi

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Dennis O'Berg

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Ed Sweeney

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George Riley

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Jim Riches

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Joe Pfeifer

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John Vigiano

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Paul Geidel

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Joe Downey

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Bill Butler

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Greg Fodor

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JohnTipping

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Arnie Roma

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Gary Suson, Photographer
420 West 14th Street, 2nd Floor
Studio: 212-802-7197
email: susonphoto@aol.com


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