Aftermath – John Botte Photobook review

‘Aftermath: Unseen 9/11 photos by a New York City Cop’ by John Botte was published on the 5 year anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Towers in New York. It is 20cm by 30cm hardback and contains 215 pages. The size of this book and the array of photographs of the rescue and clear up effort made offers a sort of archive look for a viewer. All of the photographs are taken on black and white film; not all are correctly exposed as John Botte explains that because of the dust cloud from the fallen towers, lighting was difficult; this adds to the candid style, making them appear more gritty allowing the viewer to really visualise the texture of the air. The photographs vary in size: some are placed neatly with a black border and some are spread over the gutter of the book: this allows a viewer to be more intimate with the book; looking in and stepping back from photographs.

One photograph in particular near the beginning of the book (on page: kgirwgnrwognrioegneior) force the reader to turn the book on its side: therefore, spending more time with this image of a man hoisting the colours of the American flag on a piece of the rubble. This is a strong message that although evil has caused so much carnage, America as a nation will continue to fight for goodness. There is a great deal of ‘human presence’ in this photo book: Ground Zero was transformed in an instant when the airline planes flew into the towers: the skeletal remains of the steal are symbolic of how there is an evil human presence: this was not an accident. At the same time, there is a sense of how humans have an instinct to work together and create good- with the photographs of men at work trying to discover any survivors or bodies.

John Botte was a New York City Cop and was asked to document the rescue efforts following 9/11: he therefore tried to make it as direct to show the courage of the rescuers over the sorrow that hung in the air.

The sequencing is interesting: first It thought it was in chronological order: he begins with the first photograph he ever took after the towers fell; thereafter there are captions of the date and time. Occasionally there would be a story to go with a photograph such as :

Rows of trucks like this one resembled railroad cars dropping off commuters at Grand Central Terminal during rush hour. Except this was rush hour twenty-four hours a day. As these trucks delivered fresh groups of rescue workers to the heart of Ground Zero, they would just as soon fill up with beaten and exhausted workers from the previous shift and take them off to site areas for a rest period until it was time to jump on the truck again

This is a very powerful photo book: a collection of photographs from a serviceman’s point of view, right at the heart of the rescue mission. However, had the images been edited down to twenty and presented on a much smaller scale, there may be more of a delicate story to it; the scale of this book is more of a archive, a documentation.

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