On September 11th, 2001 lifestyle photographer and photojournalist David Duncan started the project “Innocence Lost Lynchburg 9/11.” The project was a mix of audio interviews and ambient sounds recorded from different events that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on that day and the months that followed. With his Sony MZ-R37 mini disc recorder, a short shotgun mic, he shot black-and-white documentary images and portraits with his Leica M4-P rangefinder and a Hasselblad 500 C/M. Duncan proceeded to photograph people in his hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia to document their reactions to the events of that tragic day.
Duncan photographed people from all walks of life. Chris Barrett was a peace activist who held a sign that read “Love Your Enemy MT 5:44” during a pro rally, Steve Bozeman was a retired United States Marine and Vietnam Vet, who is now a downtown fixture every Friday with his “Support our Troops” rallies. Other subjects included a 12- year-old boy who stood on the steps of Monument Terrace wearing a T-shirt that had Osama Bin Laden’s face on the shirt and the words “Wanted Dead or Alive.” Duncan photographed The Rev. Jerry Falwell, senior pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church and chancellor of Liberty University. Falwell had planned an event called “Pray For America” hours after the attack that attracted over 5,000 people who came to pray at the Vines Center. Duncan also photographed and recorded interviews with the Scales family who lost their son, David, in the pentagon, and he photographed Dan Rowan and his NY firefighters from Ladder 9 and Engine 33 in lower Manhattan who had biked into Lynchburg, while riding across the U.S. during their coast-to-coast odyssey. Duncan even went to a class of second graders at James River Day School who shared their journals and artwork with him while he recorded their reactions.
His interviews also included a businessman of Muslim descent who had been searched as many as 10 times while flying on business for a U.S. company in town, and he documented the Lynchburg Fire Department as they were running through Hazmat Drills because of the fear of anthrax in mail. His multimedia project captured all these faces and stories. All shared their sense of patriotism in those tense hours.
The “Innocence Lost Lynchburg 9/11” was turned into a gallery show that ran for several months. Duncan printed images on Ilford Multigrade Fiber paper and matted and framed everything himself and then spent hours editing his interviews into a one-hour audio story. The show opened to the public and was held at CJMW Architecture Building in downtown Lynchburg. His images were so affecting that his shots of Dan Rowan with the Lynchburg Fire Department were used in the LIFE book and magazine The American Spirit, Meeting the Challenge of September 11th’. In 2003 “Innocence Lost Lynchburg 9/11” multimedia project was accepted into the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center. Duncan even hand delivered his work to Director Peggy Bulger and David Taylor, head of Research & Programs. The project was renamed and became the “David Duncan September 11th Collection”
With the 10-year anniversary in 2011, Duncan has decided to revisit the original project with a new mini-documentary video entitled A Look Back. A Look Back has Duncan meeting with the original people he interviewed on 9/11 to see if and how their views have changed, stayed the same or if they have some new perspective to 9/11 and the war and events that ensued. In ten years Duncan has found most of the people and they are still living in Lynchburg.
“The first thing I ask them is do you remember that day, and then I build the questions from there. I write down some quick notes but the core of my questions are on the fly during the interview when I can feel what they are saying and ask a follow up question,” says Duncan. He wants to experience what they felt, see what they saw. His hope with this new project is that he can share these thoughts with the viewer online. “It will be a small look into what we as small town and the nation have experienced during the past 10 years,” explains Duncan
Duncan has done an amazing job of tracking the people down and caught up with many of them.“The first thing I ask them is do you remember that day, and then I build the questions from there. I write down some quick notes but the core of my questions are on the fly during the interview when I can feel what they are saying and ask a follow up question,” says Duncan. He wants to experience what they felt, see what they saw. His hope with this new project is that he can share these thoughts with the viewer online. “It will be a small look into what we as small town and the nation have experienced during the past 10 years,” explains Duncan
Chris Barrett, now a deacon at the Catholic church in Smith Mountain Lake, VA feels he now has greater respect for the men and women who have chosen in good conscience to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Rev. Jonathan Falwell, son of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, is now Senior Pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church. He wants to reach out to people of the Muslim faith to build relationships and opportunities with them and to learn from their lives for a better nation. He believes all Americans should do this whether Christian or not.
Steve Bozeman, the Vietnam Vet, now feels it is important for people to remember these dates and honor 9/11 on the 10th anniversary even if it is to wave the American flag, and be patriotic or have a silent moment for those who have fallen. “I think it has to be pushed by a larger origination though the community churches, veterans’ originations’ or any government agency that can help and try to make that happen. Each year not just the 10th year, but the 11th year, 12th, year 13th year because in time it is going to be like Pearl Harbor, Just going to be another day,” says Bozeman.
Duncan managed to contact Tyler Duerson, who was in the second grade 10 years ago, and now a senior in high school. The senior believes that we are all Americans, with all our fractions, and have to look out for each other and expect the unexpected.
Duncan’s own former boss, Joe Stinnett, the Managing Editor at The News & Advance reflects back that as part of the media they did do their job and did a really good job of informing the community. “I always do think of the difference in nationalism and patriotism from then and now and how it somehow eroded with the wars and politics to be far removed from where everyone was pulling together right after 9/11. I think about all the service men who have been killed and the people and families that are left without husbands, wives, children, and grandparents and that those people are still gone and that never get to grow up and never get to live and the horror of it is defiantly still there every time you think about it,” says Stinnett.
Duncan is shooting the new video in a simple but very efficient and effective manner. On a black backdrop in his studio, he films the interviews with his Canon 7D that shoots HD video and records dual sound with a Tascam DR-100 using the Sennheiser G2 wireless lavalier mic. He keeps his light setups simple and uses two CN-160 LED lights on small stands. The dual sound is synced in Plural Eyes Premiere and the video is edited with Adobe Premiere Pro CS4. His efficiency even extends to the point that all of his kit fits in a Lowepro mini trekker backpack except for the stands and backdrop.
Duncan continues to work on new photography and multimedia video projects that can be found on www.davidduncan.com or at Live Dream Share, his multimedia video production site. He will be posting a video a week on his blog at www.davidduncan.com/cblog, where you can also see his other corporate, editorial, non-profit and wedding work
Duncan also works as an Adjunct Professor at Randolph College and teaches an Introduction to Digital Filmmaking and Black & White Photography. You can view a scaled down version of his 9/11 Lynchburg project that started it all at http://www.davidduncan.com/lynchburg911.