Journalist of the Month

AP Photographer Captures Human Toll of Sept. 11

Sunday, December 30, 2001

Amy Sancetta, a veteran AP sports photographer and Pulitzer Prize winner, captured not only the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack, but also the poignant fliers for missing persons and the generosity of small-town America.

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Among the most painful images she captured were the fliers that would cover city signposts for months. "All of the photographs everywhere," she said, "it was unbelievable, remarkable, how fast they went up. You looked at their faces and they looked like people I could have known. They were everywhere, everywhere you went."

One of the First Women Photographers in a 'Man's Field'

Sancetta, based at The AP bureau in Columbus, Ohio, was one of the first women photographers in what had been a macho field and has built a career on her vibrant sports photography. She now routinely covers the National Collegiate Athletic Association games and the Olympics.

She sent The AP a box of her sports photos while she was at Ohio State University in her native Columbus and began to free-lance for the news organization.

"I always played sports growing up and that was what I gravitated to when I was taking pictures," said Sancetta.

By 1983, Sancetta was working in The AP Philadelphia bureau as a staff photographer.

"I would go to the Flyers and the Sixers games and when we ate in the press rooms before games," Sancetta recalls, "the only other women there would be the cooks."

Shortly after Sancetta finished shooting in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in New York City, she headed home, where she found some comfort in small-town America but also despair.

"I took a lot of shots of people in Ohio hanging flags. People wanted to help wherever they were," she said. "I kept thinking, 'Who cares about anything else that is going on in the world?' Nothing seemed important."

The World Series began in late October--delayed a week by the World Trade Center attack--and Sancetta went back to doing the work she loves.

"It really pulled me out of my funk and gave me something to focus on. Although for a long time all stories in the news, even sports, were somehow tied to Sept. 11."

Sancetta said she now is looking forward to covering the winter Olympics in Utah, although she still has reservations about flying

"You wonder, what else, what else, what else," she said. "The mind works in still pictures, they flash through your memory," she said. "After everything is gone, pictures remain. You can describe something all you want, but you remember the pictures."

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Maya Dollarhide is a free-lance writer living in New York.


To view Amy Sancetta's work:

Sancetta's World Trade Center photos:
http://wtc10048nyc.free.fr/017.html

 

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