From Nora McGreevy’s article for Smithsonian Magazine:
“[Grinker’s image] is much more complicated, and it doesn’t necessarily sanitize the disaster” Stubblefield says. “The human figures are kind of dwarfed by what looks like a post-apocalyptic landscape.” He compares it to a 19th-century Romantic landscape painting, where the artist attempted to convey the sublime, overwhelming sense of being in nature.
Grinker’s photo also communicates something about the inexplicable. As Flores comments, her photo succeeds in depicting the scale of the tragedy—the firefighters were navigating hills of debris stacked 10 or 12 stories high, he says. “The wreckage almost overwhelms the scene in a way,” Stubblefield adds.