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Photographers revisit 9/11; 'It was that horrific'

In his new documentary "Witness to History," photojournalist Thomas Franklin revisits 9/11 through the eyes - and lenses - of photojournalists who captured iconic photos that day.

 

When Tom Franklin, photojournalist for The Record newspaper in New Jersey, took the picture showing  three firemen raising the American flag above the rubble of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, he had no idea it would become an iconic image.

“It was something that just happened,” he said. “I shot it the best way I could and I moved on.”

Franklin said he was standing about 30 yards away from the three firefighters, and the photo was one of a series of frames he shot of them that fateful afternoon.

On the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, Franklin - now a multimedia editor for NorthJersey.com - revisits the day of the attacks in a new documentary about the iconic photos of the day and the photojournalists who captured them. Franklin says photographers played an important role in documenting the historic day.

“I hope a lot of people get to see [the documentary],” he told msnbc.com. “It’s a way of recognizing what journalists do.”

Featuring dramatic images of 9/11, the 13-minute documentary “Witness to History” looks behind the lenses of professional photographers such as David Handschuh of the New York Daily News and Aris Economopoulos of the New Jersey Star-Ledger, and accidental witnesses such as Carmen Taylor, who happened to be visiting New York from Arkansas that day.

Taylor, who was on vacation by herself, told Franklin she would have been screaming if she hadn’t been busy taking photos.

While iconic, most of the images from that day are stirring, if not shocking. Franklin argues there is real value in retelling what happened, particularly because of the horror of the events.

“9/11 was that bad,” he said. “It was that horrific.”

Watch the entire documentary here, and watch Thomas Franklin explain how he got the iconic image of the firemen raising the American flag.

More photos from Sept. 11, 2011.