Careful With That Caption, Eugene
There's an interesting mini-controversy over on Slate concerning the interpretation of the Thomas Hoepker photograph above taken on 9/11/2001. I've mentioned before—even in some cases lampooned—the perils of putting overly specific interpretations on photographs, ideas I first came across in Gisele Freund's long out-of-print book Photography and Society. In this case, Slate, with the help of the internet, managed to turn a secondary source (Hoepker) into a primary source by locating the man on the right in the photograph and asking him directly what the five of them were talking about and feeling. It turns out, not unsurprisingly, that later commentators' interpretations are quite far off the mark.
(Incidentally, I recently contacted the publisher of Photography and Society to ask about the options for reprinting it or getting a reissue someday. He turned out to be also a fan of the book, but it turns out that the French publisher owns the rights to the text, the American publisher to the translation, and there would be hundreds of image permissions to gather in order to do a reprint. We both agreed that it was probably not feasible. That's really too bad, as it's one of those rare books that should be perpetually in print and familiar to all students and fans of the medium.)
Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON (with thanks to an anonymous tipster)