Ronald Herard: 9/11 Through the Eyes of a Photo Lab Technician

This photographer walks in, drops off his pictures and stands off to the side. I asked him “Are you okay?” He says he was standing there with the camera in hand and all of a sudden him and the firemen hear these sounds. THUNK! THUNK! He didn’t know what it was. When he turned around, he found out it was people hitting the ground and jumping out of the World Trade Center. He says to me “I couldn’t lift my camera.” He was covered in ash, and tears were coming down his eyes. They were flesh colored where the tears were streaming down and cutting through the ashes. That photographer cleaned himself up in the bathroom and he went back out there.

During 9/11, Ronald Herard was one of the people running the Time Life Photo Lab in NYC. He got into the art form through graphic design only to shuffle around while working in studios, retail stores, and then photo labs. Today, he’s both a member of Kamoinge and a camera salesperson at Foto Care in NYC; but on 9/11 he was a photo lab tech working the counter–and so he’s seen the work of so many photographers who shot during that day. We sat down in a pizzeria around the Flatiron neighborhood (as us New Yorkers do) where I mostly listened to Ron relate the experience of how he got into photography and how those experiences lead to him being in the lab. On September 11th 2001, photographers of all types poured in as the Time Life Photo Lab made themselves open 24/7 for a period of time.

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