9/11 The Way I Remember It

Our experience of 9/11 was being woken up by the radio that we have set to a certain time as our alarm. We lived in a small section of North Hollywood, CA called Valley Village. We’re both from NJ so our families were on the East coast.

My mom had just flown back home to NJ and was supposed to fly into Newark but instead went into Philly and got in either that morning of 9/11 really early like a Red Eye or in late, the evening of 9/10.

We were listening to Ralph Garman on the Kevin and Bean show, something about him was not right, something about the Twin Towers. I was sort of listening, half awake, and my husband, David started to really wake me up. That’s when he turned on the news(we put it on the Today Show), only to see one of the Twin Towers up in smoke and flames.

It didn’t seem real at all, it was like a scene from an action movie and I expected to see Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis to fly over to save everyone.

We then got a call from my parents who were up in NJ, they told us to turn on the news and we said that we already were watching. Then I called our friends in Oregon for them to turn on the Today show. I also called my friend Lisa to turn on the news and to call her mom. In time a few minutes later, I can’t remember, after hanging up,  I think to see the other plane to hit the other tower, which we saw live on t.v. Our mouths dropped in disbelief….plus a few curse words…and prayers.

We kept watching, I mean how couldn’t we stop? Never did we think that those buildings would fall like that. No one did. And then they collapsed.

Once again:

Our mouths dropped in disbelief….a lot more curse words…and prayers.

All I kept thinking about were the poor people that worked on those top floors, and the ones that worked in the levels below for the PATH train station. It was like an entire city below those towers, but it was actually a mall. Every time I would go there, I felt the weight of those buildings above me until I reached the sidewalks. There were fast food restaurants, a 1 hour photo lab, a dry cleaners too I think. I hope that all of those people got out in time. Then I thought of some friends of mine that worked in the city, and my friend’s father who was also in the city that had a compromised immune system due to being very sick. With all of that dust and debris I was very worried for him.

Then we heard about the plane that hit the Pentagon(American Airlines Flight 77) and the passengers that helped to deliberately crash the plane(United Airlines Flight 93) into a field in Stonycreek, PA, and prevent it from hitting its intended target.

David had to go into work, his new job at a Termite Art Productions (which later became Creative Differences, now located in N. Hollywood) in Studio City,  and this was his first week. I had to go to Bel Air Camera to do some graphic design work for their Los Angeles Times ad, and they were located very close to the Federal Building in Westwood. It was hard to get any work done that day. No helicopters or planes were up in the sky unless it was military. All around and on top of the Federal building were men and women securing it with automatic rifles.

The owner of Bel Air Camera gave his employees $50 to spend in Westwood Village to support the businesses that day.  It was also to show the terrorists that we weren’t afraid to go out and about our day, like a  f***k you to them. I will never forget that, it was a great show of patriotism and community.

Were we scared? Yes. But then, we stopped being scared.

That night, no one could really sleep it seemed. The air space above us was quiet, but the community was alive with the sounds of people and a candlelight vigils on the corners, waving their flags, cars, trucks honking their horns with the American flags waving from them. People lined the sidewalks shouting USA, waving the flag, showing a force in numbers.

My husband and I somehow got on a firetruck with the local fire department and some of the firemen, with my film camera, documenting what I saw. I didn’t use a flash, grabbing some 400 speed black and white film,  I used my Nikon N70(F70 outside of the US) and the fasted lens that I had at the time, my Nikon 20mm f 2.8 lens, As you can see, some of these images are blurry and far from perfect. But I believe that they captured the spirit of the emotions and what was going on that evening in our  neighborhood. I do have more images from that night I think, it’s just sometimes hard to look at and remember that day.

All photographs appearing on this site are the property of Deirdre Ryan Photography. They are protected by U.S. Copyright Laws, and are not to be downloaded or reproduced in any way without the written permission of Deirdre Ryan Photography. Copyright ©Deirdre Ryan All Rights Reserved.

Night Of 9/11 in North Hollywood, CA by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Men, women and children on a busy corner with lit candles and waving American flags.

Night Of 9/11 in North Hollywood, CA by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Looking up at one of the firefighters that I rode with in North Hollywood with a large American flag. Shot on b/w film on the night of Set. 11th in the Studio City area of Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley.

Night Of 9/11 in North Hollywood, CA by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Shot on b/w film on the night of Set. 11th in the Valley Village area of Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley. Men, women and children on a busy corner with lit candles and waving American flags.

Night Of 9/11 in North Hollywood, CA by Deirdre Ryan Photography

Shot on b/w film on the night of Set. 11th in Studio City, CA in front of a local pet store that has a large banner and the American flag in front of it. The guy in front is my husband.

All photographs appearing on this site are the property of Deirdre Ryan Photography. They are protected by U.S. Copyright Laws, and are not to be downloaded or reproduced in any way without the written permission of Deirdre Ryan Photography. Copyright ©Deirdre Ryan All Rights Reserved.

The next morning I went to eat breakfast at a favorite place in NoHo(North Hollywood), I just had to get away from the t.v. and so did others around me it seemed. Everyone was talking but we were quiet. No aircraft was out still, unless it was military out on patrol, and if you’ve ever lived out there, you’ll realize just how quiet it was without the constant drone and noise of planes and helicopters, so for me at least, it was a little bit of a blessing for the state of my nerves. I did picked up the L.A. Times, and still have that newspaper packed away.

A few weeks later, we did fly back East to CT for one of my best friend’s wedding. She and her husband had family fly over from Ireland and the UK. The airport experience was very different, lines were longer, more security, and very strict rules about what you could and couldn’t take on your flight. Screw the terrorists who did this! Nothing was going to stop us or anyone from going on with what we wanted to do!

The wedding was beautiful and we all had a great time!

Myself and my husband sometimes still have a hard time looking at images and footage from 9/11, especially my husband who has worked for tv shows that are about 9/11 and has had to go through footage over and over again non-stop(he was an assistant editor on WTC – 9/11 Stories From The Ruins and then other shows that had more footage for them about that day).

Sadly, many  very brave 9/11 rescue workers, and people who were in the direct or surrounding areas, had to beg Congress to continue with the help they needed to provide free medical care and services and it FINALLY passed in December 2015. Down to the WIRE, but it passed. These men and women have cancer, “the World Trade Center cough” and more medical issues that came about due to the fact that when the towers came down, they released all of these vast amounts of chemicals, like carcinogens, jet fuel, asbestos, plastics, metal, fiberglass and who knows what else and the wind blew it all over the place. Also let’s not forget that for about 90 days, the site was smoldering. Newsweek recently did an excellent article on this very subject.

Do you have anything to share about day, something that sticks out that you want to share? Please leave a comment below, and thank you for taking the time to look at my post.

#fff Fashion Friday Flashback

Back when we lived in Los Angeles, CA, I had a friend who is gorgeous and I asked her to be my fashion model for me. So, I rented a studio downtown, I had another friend created custom jewelry who wanted to have great shots of her stuff. My friends, my husband and I had a fabulous day of creating great images.

We were all so young, in our 2o’s, no kids(except my friend who modeled at the top) and just having fun! It was still difficult because we all were working to pay the rent, the bills, student loans(still have that), eat, and basically survive. I saved up to rent that studio and it was the cheapest one that I could find and I loved that space. Got it for $400 for a full day rate, it was in a loft not too far from us when we lived in downtown L.A. in the Pico Union District. I organized everything for that day, snacks, schedule, and someone makeup. It was all for portfolios, everyone loved the images.

Blond model on white background wearing black bikini and silver chain belt

Blond Model on orange seamless with natural light coming into studio, bareback wearing gold chain necklace

Blond Model Wearing Camo Dress on Yellow Seamless





This one was shot in the Sequoia National Forest, we had arrived too late to get further inside to see the larger trees. She made this 12 foot long kimono, so I had her get on top of this large rock. Shot using a Yashica Mat Twin lens camera with Fuji film.

Fine Art Friday-Railroad

I decided to post something I did a few years ago with one of my Holga cameras. This a plastic medium format toy camera that has the most basic of settings with a plastic lens and is most noted for it’s light leaks and if you’re not careful with forwarding the film, the frames will at times merge into each other. And as you can see, this is what happened here. I have 2-3 of these cameras and I got them for $12 each when I was in Black and White Photography 101 back in art college.

Many of of us in art college taking a course like this, this would’ve been your introduction to medium format film. Then, depending on what you wanted to do, you moved up to the Seagull twin lens, many schools had these for their students to use. Or in my case, I purchased a used Yashicamat Twin Lens that I used for many years in conjunction with my Holgas. I still have that camera, but the shutter stopped working properly and the part I was told wasn’t easy to find, so that camera sits in a display with other small film cameras as a reminder to get another or finally get the Mamiya C330 Pro Twin Lens, because those are just gorgeous and most still work and you can change the lenses on those.

Now for this particular negative, as you can see, I didn’t forward the film properly, somehow I misjudged the numbers on the roll through the little window. Not sure how that happened. But anything was possible with these things if you weren’t paying attention. So scanning it, I had to use the 120 holder and do it in parts, and then stitched it back together carefully in Photoshop.

In another lifetime, I used to work for a place that scanned using very large drum scanners. I didn’t operate them, but I know how to scan negs and other flat art. So, I have an older Epson flatbed scanner that has a film attachments to scan 35mm negatives, 35mm mounted slides, 120 film up to 4×5. The beauty of it this is that the attachment enables you to scan the negatives in the middle of the scanner. That is the “sweet spot” of a flatbed scanner, the point of highest intensity for it. Right now, I can’t use it because it’s so old, Mac’s OS won’t support it(I think Silverfast scanning software will let me use it again) and it’s a SCSII. I never used it for 35mm negs or slides, I have a dedicated negative scanner for that.

The image is in black and white, I used Ilford HP5 film. But I wanted to make it look older because of the age of the railroad bridge and history of it here in Bordentown, NJ. It reminded me of how older photos look like now, and the stones on that bridge are a brown color, they might be brownstone, but don’t quote me on that. I added the sloppy edges because if I had printed this in a traditional darkroom, this is how I would’ve left them.

Camden & Amboy railroad bridge in Bordentown, by Deirdre Ryan Photography.

Bordentown is rich in transportation history and the John Bull is a part of this, being one the first locomotives in our nation. Our railroad was one of the stops that the John Bull made. While researching for my blog post here, I found the name of the first engineer of the John Bull, was Tatem Parsons,  and he died at the age of 90 in Camden, NJ. Those of us who have lived in town all or most of our live, know this bit of history; the last engineer of the John Bull, Benjamin F. Jobes, lived just down the street from me. I found an article about our former neighbor, Mr. Sholl, whom I remember, had a huge collection of model trains in his basement. Mr. Sholl lived in that engineer’s home and it’s current owner has the house up for sale now. Click on the links that I provided, there’s a lot of great information!

Thanks for stopping by and please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Portfolio Items