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Priceless Treasures: A Piece of History Lost in 9/11

When the World Trade Center came down on 9/11, everything stopped. I’m sure almost everyone remembers where they were when they received the news of what happened. The bravery of the men and women who worked to rescue, rebuild, and restore after the tragedy is remarkable.

New York carries a special place in my heart. It is one of my favorite places to travel. As a photographer, I was naturally intrigued by a particular story that surfaced after the events on 9/11. Jacques Lowe (January 24, 1930 – May 21, 2001), photographer of John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign and eventually the first family’s personal photographer, lost over 40,000 negatives that were stored in JP Morgan’s vault on Ground Zero.


                                                                            Photograph  courtesy of the Estate of Jacques Lowe

Why was Lowe’s work stored in the JP Morgan vault? It was considered so valuable, nobody would insure it. This lead to the negatives being stored in the seemingly indestructible vault.

Photographers have served various purposes throughout time, but one purpose that remains consistent is the capturing of life. Lowe captured the life of the Kennedy family, essentially creating the legend and awe of John F. Kennedy, whose presidency marked some the most captivating times of the 20th century.

During his time with the first family, Lowe captured many intimate moments. From Robert and John F. Kennedy discussing the vice presidential nomination, to Jackie Kennedy at the seaside near their holiday home. Lowe portrayed the Kennedy’s in a light previously unknown to the world.

It’s these vulnerable and genuine moments that create the priceless value to Lowe’s work. I believe photographs leave a legacy that will be remembered for generations to come. The negatives from Lowe that are still intact share a window into the personal life of John F. Kennedy and his closest friends and family.

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