Gary Marlon Suson

9/11 photographer Gary Marlon Suson lives in New York City. On September 11, 2001, his life, just as all American’s lives, was turned upside down by the attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon. Initially, after photographing the Towers’ collapse from his rooftop, Suson returned to his studio, deciding he wasn’t going to shoot anything else having to do with this tragedy. He didn’t want the stress of being in the midst of the chaos taking pictures, and especially didn’t wish to be wrongly viewed as someone trying to exploit a situation.  Besides, he felt that trying to document something of this enormity was pointless – “Who am I to think I can capture the magnitude of all this?” he thought. However, he slowly realized he had a responsibility to try to document for future generations what terrorism was.

After creating a website called SeptemberEleven.net he posted his photos and captions, providing a pictorial commentary on what had happened. Unexpectedly appointed the Official Photographer at Ground Zero shortly after the tragedy at World Trade Center, Suson took photos on behalf of the Uniformed Firefighters Association and Uniformed Fire Officers Association. The culmination of his efforts became the Ground Zero Museum Workshop, a not-for-profit museum that houses not only his stunningly gripping images, but exhibits of relics and effects recovered from the site.

 

 

GARY MARLON SUSON ARTICLES:
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Full Biography

Ground Zero Workshop Museum Founder Marlon Suson is a professional actor-playwright who resides in Manhattan & an Honorary Battalion Chief in the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). Just months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, he stepped away from his theatrical career after he was requested to take on a unique role: To be the Official Photographer at Ground Zero for the Uniformed Firefighters Association & Uniformed Fire Officers Association (FDNY). Like all New Yorkers and wanting to contribute to the relief efforts in any way he could, he began shooting on the morning of 9/11 and was appointed Official Photographer at Ground Zero in late December of 2001. He spent six days per week and approximately 17 hours per day “living” at Ground Zero, where he documented every phase of the ‘Recovery’. His work was overseen by FDNY Chief of Department Daniel Nigro. He was allowed access to every area at Ground Zero and given strict guidelines, which included:
• Not to release any of the images until the Recovery was over
• Not to shoot images of human remains.
• To share future proceeds with 9/11 charities.

In addition, he was not salaried by anyone and had to take out bank loans in excess of $8000.00 in order to finish his documentation of the “Recovery.” The FDNY first caught wind of Mr. Suson’s work in December of 2001, when the Manhattan Trustee for the Uniformed Firefighter’s Association, Rudy Sanfilippo, was receiving complimentary immunotherapy and vitamin drips at a well-known holistic clinic. Mr. Sanfilippo, a survivor of the WTC collapse on 9/11, was having lung complications. Mr. Suson had arranged the free care for several firemen who were experiencing breathing problems from September 11. It was this impromptu meeting between Suson and Sanfilippo that led the Uniformed Firefighters Association to view Mr. Suson’s award-winning website, SeptemberEleven.net, and then allow him full, unrestricted access to every area of Ground Zero. Early on, he didn’t shoot very much; choosing instead to focus on becoming friendly with the Chiefs and fixtures that ran the WTC site. Firemen were at first spooked when they saw Mr. Suson shooting and were uneasy. They feared he was exploiting the sacred site but this changed quickly as they got to know him and also noticed that none of his images were showing up in any of the daily newspapers. This spoke volumes to the many men who had lost family members and whole fire companies on September 11. Slowly, he was welcomed into the Ground Zero “brotherhood” and was even allowed to document the private Honor Guards from only a few feet away without the men so much as blinking an eye. Mr. Suson recalled, “I have to say I felt as if I was always at home there. I looked forward to seeing the men (and women) every day. It was an honor for all of us to be the ones to help out firsthand in the recovery efforts. We knew we were making a difference.” Whenever financially possible, Marlon Suson’s non-profit Museum donates to assorted charities and is particularly supportive of charities having to do with Mesothelioma research, such as the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center (MAA Center).

One Battalion Chief in particular, Stephen Zaderiko, took Mr. Suson under his wing. “He spent time educating me on different aspects of the site, which included the art of making a recovery. He literally taught me how to dig when I wasn’t shooting; showing me what to look for in the way of remains. It was an honor to be able to dig but quite frightening the first time I did it. That’s when everything got quite real for me. No more hiding behind the lens. I really looked up to him; he was always at Ground Zero, even on his days off and always stayed upbeat.” Another Chief Mr. Suson credited for his images and emotional support was Battalion Chief Jim Riches. “Chief Riches lost his son on 9-11 and God himself couldn’t pull Chief Riches away from Ground Zero. I called him the gentle giant as he never spoke much but when he did, it mattered. He was very supportive of my work and genuinely cared about everyone at the site. It was quite a day when Chief Riches finally found his fireman son, Jimmy, Jr. in the North Tower area.” One last catalyst to Mr. Suson attaining his unique images at key moments during the recovery was a volunteer recovery worker known simply as “Mike The Beard.” A bear of a man who sported a thick beard, overalls, size 14 work boots, coke-bottle thick glasses and was always covered in the trademark brown-gray, Ground Zero mud, “Beard” often drove Mr. Suson around the site in an ATV. “He’d often wake me up at two or three in the morning while I slept in St. Paul’s Church and told me to be outside in two minutes. He would do this when he thought there was something happening down in the hole that should be documented, so he’d pick me up in this muddy, Honda ATV “Gator” and whiz me down to wherever the action was happening. I attribute some of my best photographs to his being so attentive and involved in my documentation.” Mr. Suson, who stockpiled his collection of images for many months, was virtually unknown to the media until the fire union granted him permission to release the images in the last week of the recovery at Ground Zero. On May 28, 2002, the New York Times broke the story of his singular journey into Ground Zero with a feature, half-page, color photo story entitled, “From a Camera at Ground Zero, Rare Photos of an Agonizing Dig” by Susan Sachs. The morning that the story broke, Mr. Suson was contacted by every major media outlet in the world, including Fox News Channel, CNN, SKY (UK), CBS, NBC and ABC. His first major interview, a five-minute featured segment on CNN Worldwide, was shaky. “I was only a few days out of Ground Zero and suddenly I had to talk about my experiences with a camera in my face and I couldn’t do it. I got choked up every time I opened my mouth, so CNN was kind enough to pair me up with a very sensitive producer who made sure I felt comfortable, which included my not being able to see the video camera. It was a slow process, that first interview, but the final product was an accurate tale in words and images that told the story of my journey into the heart of Ground Zero. I still get choked up every time I watch that interview as I can see just how emotionally vulnerable I was during that period.” That five-minute segment remains to this day the longest taped story ever produced on CNN. Gary Marlon Suson was a guest numerous times on Fox News Channel and recently did radio interviews on INSIDE MAC RADIO and for AUSTRALIAN RADIO for the 7-Year anniversary of the W.T.C. attacks.

Book offers quickly followed and Mr. Suson, courted heavily by Judith Regan of Regan Books, signed with the smaller Barnes Noble Publishing to release, “Requiem: Images of Ground Zero”, a 200-page pictorial of Day 1 through the closing ceremonies. The book was endorsed by the most notable firemen in the FDNY, with the foreward penned by highly respected Assistant Chief of Operations Joseph W. Pfeifer, whose brother Kevin was lost on 9/11. In keeping with his promise to the fire union, he donated hundreds of autographed books to the Uniformed Firefighters Association, to FDNY headquarters in Brooklyn, to 9/11 families and to firehouses all over the New York area. In addition, he sold books and museum posters for the UFA Widows Children’s Fund. His works were featured on the FBI Training Network in Quantico for their Homeland Security and Policing videos and in 2003, 8 of his images were reviewed by the Pulitzer Prize Committee for the 2002 awards. In August of 2002, Mr. Suson was a guest of the U.S. Secret Service at The White House, where he was given a private tour and signed dozens of books for the staff. From there, he came back to New York where he was an honored speaker at the U.S. Postal Service’s “Tribute To Heroes” ceremony, moving the packed audience with an emotional power point presentation of his Ground Zero images set to music. In September of 2002, Mr. Suson was a guest on Fox News Live with David Asman and then appeared on CNN with Connie Chung, accompanied by FDNY 9/11 Family Members Lee Ielpi and John Vigiano. Says Suson,”This was an emotional segment to be a part of, to say the least. I admire both men’s incredible courage to subject themselves to such a tough interview just one year after losing their sons.” His travels also included going to England, where he accompanied British Fire Chief David O’Dwyer of the Hereford Worcester Fire Brigades to the peak of a centuries-old, mountain fortress called “British Camp”, where Mr. Suson dug a hole and buried World Trade Center glass and dirt in a secret location in memory of the British citizens who died on September 11. The dirt was given to Mr. Suson by retired FDNY Lieutenant Paul Geidel, who spent nine months looking for his missing son, Gary Geidel, of Rescue-1 in Manhattan. Since then, Mr. Suson has spoken all over Europe on his work and experiences at Ground Zero, often showing up at firehouses with historical images for people on the opposite end of the world to remember the fallen. In 2002 and 2003, he had two different museum exhibits at The New-York Historical Society. One exhibit, “9/11: Loss and Remembrance”, featured the “Band of Dads” from Ground Zero.

In 2004, Mr. Suson, feeling unfulfilled in his mission to educate people as to what transpired during the Ground Zero Recovery, began writing his next Off-Broadway project, AMERICAN BROTHER – a ground zero-themed play. Mr. Suson recently penned a feature screenplay based on his own experiences at Ground Zero as the Official Photographer of record during the Recovery. Academy Award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis has offered to act in the project when it comes to fruition. Mr. Suson travels to different fire expos around the USA to sign books & museum posters for 10 assorted charities, including Artists 4 Hope, NYC Fire & Police Widows Fund, The FDNY Chief Raymond Downey Memorial Fund, The UFA Widows & Children’s Fund, HugsAcrossAmerica.net, Firefighter Ralph Geidel 9/11 Fund and the Brian E. Sweeney Memorial Fund. In 2004, Mr. Suson participated in a Ground Zero chemical detoxification program designed by the Church of Scientology and campaigned by actor Tom Cruise. Mr. Suson continues to raise awareness of the courage of the Ground Zero firefighters, police and volunteers through his unique and singular images. Most importantly, these images keep the memory alive of all those who perished on the fateful day of September 11, 2001 . Mr. Suson has often stated, “Time has a way of dulling our memories and so I hope these photographs will keep people from forgetting how we need to consistently fight the war on terrorism.” Mr. Suson, in 2005, opened the Ground Zero Museum Workshop in the Meat-Packing District of New York, which conducts daily, guided tours for tourists from all over the world, as well as hosting 9/11 families and survivors groups. Mr. Suson speaks around the world about his experiences as the Official Photographer at Ground Zero for the Uniformed Firefighters Association & Uniformed Fire Officers Association. Mr. Suson’s role as Official Photographer at Ground Zero for the Fire Unions (UFA & UFOA) was a one-time position that ended when the Ground Zero Recovery ended and he no longer shoots photography for either union. His affiliation was with the 2001-2002 UFA administration from the Ground Zero Recovery period and not the current UFA administration, whose members were not elected officials nor were in office during the events of September 11 or during the “Recovery” at Ground Zero.

Roberta Bondar

Roberta Bondar OC, O.On, MD, PhD, FRCP, FRSC is Canada’s first female astronaut and the first neurologist in space. For more than a decade she was NASA’s head of space medicine and now consultants and speakers to business, scientific, and medical communities. She has received such honors as the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the NASA Space Medal, over 22 honorary degrees and induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. Seeing the world through the lenses of a medical doctor, scientist, photographer, astronaut and author, Bondar follows her family’s tradition of excellence in teaching.

Trained as a member of NASA’s Earth Observation Team she expanded her professional photographic expertise. After her space mission, she continued her photographic explorations honing her artistic and technical skills as an honors student in Professional Nature Photography.

A cross-discipline thought leader with groundbreaking insights on the environment, innovation, discovery and leadership, Dr. Bondar is one of North America’s most sought-after and respected presenters. Meeting and conference planners from organizations as diverse as Yale University, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Gartner, Investors Group, Capgemini, Pfizer, Oracle, the FBI and many more have come to depend on her as a valued partner in planning and delivering customized presentations that consistently move audiences to their next level.

Dr. Bondar draws on her remarkable depth of expertise as an astronaut, physician, scientific researcher, photographer, author, environment interpreter and team leader to stimulate, motivate, educate and inspire. By customizing each speech and keynote, she brings added value with her maturity, wisdom gained from “in the trenches” life experiences, broad educational background and depth of personality. This unique combination will ensure that any event will be extraordinary.

PROGRAM TOPICS

Personal and Professional Goals – An Advanced Ethic
We all want to lead happy productive lives and it is fulfilling when both personal and professional lives can feed off each other. As far as I have seen on Earth and beyond, nothing is clearer than the fact that we have a precious relatively short Earth-life. It makes sense to develop ourselves for each hour that we are awake by learning from the potential life experiences all around us.

Management Lessons from Space
Successful businesses anticipate and respond rapidly to a world in constant flux where human relations are keys to effective change. As professional flexibility reflects personal adaptability, valued team members know when to lead, when to follow and when to stay the course. They embrace culture challenges as positive influences on both their continued professional and personal development.

Never a Distance too Great: Bridges for Life
It is not enough just to advocate a vision: you must realize it. The gap between a dream and reality is bridged with interest and insight, skill and determination, focus and discipline. Because of their timeless value, these bridges also give us the flexibility that we will need in the future to cope with inevitable change. Dynamic bridges of the human mind can be virtual or real, but they must be agile. They form the link between other worlds, ideas and relationships.

Vision and Leadership
In a world of extremes, a leader’s vision must be bold yet within reach of fellow team members. Sharing a vision is more than setting out objectives and goals for other to follow. If there is no overlap of interest or passion by everyone, a vision will be blind to fulfilling its potential. By definition, a leader knows about leadership but a successful leader understands followership. Experience offers each of us an opportunity to learn from another person’s life lesions which combine the richness of education, with the insight of critical thinking. By linking this resource to respect for a shared vision, a strong team will be focused on success.

 

Full Biography

Astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar World’s First Neurologist in Space

The world’s first neurologist in space, Dr. Roberta Bondar is globally recognized for her pioneering contribution to space medicine research. Aboard the Discovery mission STS-42 in 1992 she conducted experiments in the shuttle’s first international microgravity laboratory.

For more than a decade at NASA Dr. Bondar headed an international research team, continuing to find new connections between astronauts recovering from the microgravity of space and neurological illnesses here on Earth. Her techniques have been used in clinical studies at the B. I. Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School and at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Bondar served two terms as Chancellor of Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario.

A true renaissance woman, Dr. Bondar is an acclaimed photographer of the environment. She is the author of four best-selling photo essay books featuring her stunning photography of the Earth. Her photographic works may be found in private, corporate and institutional collections in Canada, the U.S. and England.

An author, environmental educator and celebrated landscape photographer, Dr. Bondar has also earned a reputation as a leading speaker and consultant within the medical and scientific communities, and in the field of corporate social responsibility and care for the Earth’s environment. She co-founded The Roberta Bondar Foundation, a charitable organization to improve our understanding of the environment.

Dr. Bondar has been recognized with the NASA Space Medal, inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and into the International Women’s Forum Hall of Fame for her pioneering research in space medicine. She is a recipient of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario and has received 24 honorary doctorates from North American universities. In 2003 TIME magazine named her among North America’s best explorers. In 2011, Dr. Bondar received her own star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.

Jerry Gay

Jerry Gay

Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Jerry Gay has spent a lifetime capturing the nature of man throughout the United States. Over the past 4 decades he has driven 500,000 miles of America’s back roads and highways to pursue his ongoing research of everyday life. With humor and acute philosophical perception, Gay’s highly animated motivational presentations bring his visual insights to every audience he touches. His pictures and philosophy convey a positive and persuasive analysis to help others find hope and see solutions to the unique challenges they face. Read more

Steve Uzzell

Using his striking photographs as illustrations of his metaphor about possibility and creativity, Steve Uzzell inspires audiences to take advantage of his experience and vision to make any venture an adventure. In any project he undertakes, Steve’s preparation lays the foundation for magic to happen; “Chance favors the prepared mind,” said Louis Pasteur, and these are words that Uzzell has taken to heart. After all, our eyes will only ever see what our mind is prepared to comprehend. He spends six months of the year traveling the world for his clients; the remainder teaching and delivering his presentation “Open Roads Open Minds: An Exploration of Creative Problem Solving”. Read more

Dewitt Jones

Dewitt Jones

Dewitt Jones is one of America’s top professional photographers with a career stretching over several decades. As a motion picture director, he has had two films nominated for Academy Awards (Climb – Best Live Action Short Film and John Muir’s High Sierra – Best Short Subject Documentary) before he was thirty. Twenty years as a freelance photographer for National Geographic earned him a reputation as a world class photojournalist. Turning to advertising, Jones rose to the forefront of corporate creative marketing, photographing national advertising campaigns for Dewar’s Scotch, Canon, and United Airlines. Jones is recognized as a world class lecturer. His knowledge of the creative process, his relaxed and genuine style, and his ability to communicate make his presentations truly outstanding. Read more

Jonathan Michael Bowman

Jonathan Michael Bowman

Ready to hear fresh ideas on leadership? Inspiring thoughts and advice that will resonate with your audience and inspire lasting change in their lives and organization? Jonathan Michael Bowman, Esq., delivers a unique twist on the topic of leadership. Bowman’s proven leadership principles spring from an impoverished childhood spent in homeless shelters and public housing projects – principles that he later tested in his position as Assistant Attorney General, and later Assistant Chief of the Civil Rights Section, in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, where he displayed a natural ability to lead. Jonathan offers an insightful perspective on leadership, which he illustrates with his fine-art photography. His passion, enthusiasm, humor, and photographic art fuse into an unforgettable, moving experience. Read more