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Inspiring Experiences

This assignment ran from Mar 19 to Apr 9, 2018.

For this assignment, I have invited one of my mentors and former editors, Jenn Poggi, to curate your photos with me.

Together we are inviting you to share photos and stories inspired by your experiences. That may sound vague, but we challenge you to take the idea and run with it. What are some of the most defining experiences in your life? Perhaps it’s a trip you took, a relationship you built, or a milestone you achieved. Use your photography to tell us a visual story, and then take advantage of your caption to give us context for that moment.

Recently, there was a wonderful comment on the message board for the “We are All Explorers” assignment by Your Shot photographer C. Irjala replied, “Photography is like a language. How to experience a language depends on our own childhood and background, culture, life experience, age… or how deep we understand our language. Perhaps we are learning a new language? An image appeals to every human in different ways.”

I agree with C. Irjala that photography is like a language. Your personal experiences color not just the pictures you take, but also the pictures you see. All of us see the world in completely different ways. As we’ve said before, Your Shot is special because we are a global community of more than 900,000 members representing 195 countries. Think how many combined inspiring experiences you all have!

David Y. Lee
Producer, National Geographic Your Shot

Jenn Poggi
Assistant Professor, Rochester Institute for Technology

This assignment was inspired by an exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. that is on view through May 28, 2018: Sally Mann: A Thousand Crossings exhibition brings together 115 photographs created over the past 40 years of Mann’s career. The exhibition investigates how Mann’s relationship with her native land, the American South, has shaped her work.

Curated by:

David Lee
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Jenn Poggi
Assistant Professor, RIT, School of Photographic Arts and Sciences
Assignment Status
  • Open

    Everyone’s welcome to contribute their best shot to open assignments. Learn more.
  • Closed

    Completed assignments—with our favorite photos included—will be published online. Learn more.
  • Published

    Once the submission period is over, we'll review all contributions and select our favorite images to be included in the story. Learn more.
Published Apr 25, 2018.
Thank you for your contributions!

Vote for our next Assignment

Posted aug 15, 2018

Hi everyone —

Recently the Your Shot team went through your suggested assignment list and selected four assignment themes that were submitted by the community. We are asking you to vote on which assignment you think we should run next? This poll will be open until Monday, August 20th at 12pm EST. Assignment with the most votes will be a real assignment running in early September!

I voted for [redacted].

Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Final Story Published

Posted apr 25, 2018

Hi everyone — thank you for participating in our “Inspiring Experiences” assignment. Jenn and I had so much fun, we were so inspired by your submissions. We just published the final story.

I also want to let you know that we wrote a Your Shot: Editor’s Insight blog post that further revealed our editing process for this final story.

While curating the Daily Dozen, I see a lot of our community members not participating in our assignments. So, I want to let you know what is coming up, and encourage you all to submit. I’ll be producing an upcoming assignment curated by National Geographic photographers Amy Toensing and Matt Moyer called “The Love of Parents.” This assignment is scheduled to launch on May 21st. They have curated a few previous Your Shot assignments, including: "Our World in Motion," "Strong Women," "Finding Family," "Because of Her," Unsung Hero," and "My Best Photos of 2017." I am tentatively planning a live discussion board chat with Amy and Matt , so stay tuned.

Your Shot senior producer Matt Adams will be curating an assignment called “Places We Love” which is scheduled to launch on May 1, 2018. Associate photo editor Kristen McNicholas will be curating an assignment called “Life in Black and White” which is scheduled to launch on May 14, 2018. Currently she is running an assignment called “Pop of Color” — the submission deadline is May 7, 2018.

Thanks again for participating in our “Inspiring Experiences” assignment. You always inspire me.

David Y. Lee
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

In case you missed it...

Posted apr 10, 2018

Hi everyone —

This past weekend I went through over 8,000 photos submitted to the assignment. I am excited to work with Jenn and curate our final story for you.

One thing I did notice was that there were a lot of beautiful underwater photos, which would be perfect submission considerations for our “Underwater Beauty” assignment, curated by photographer and filmmaker Michaela Skovranova. I hope you will consider submitting to this assignment, and my “While on a Walk…” assignment.

Thanks again for inspiring me.

David Y. Lee

Thank You for Inspiring Me

Posted apr 6, 2018

The submission deadline for our “Inspiring Experiences” is Monday April 9th at 12PM EST. Jenn and I have opened up the assignment to four submissions, so I hope you take advantage because I love being inspired by you. As I sit at my desk at National Geographic HQ, in front of a computer, underneath the fluorescent lights, your photos and stories transport me to another moment in our beautiful world. You help me escape my office life — because yes, I would prefer to be camping. Fortunately I love my job.

This assignment is particularly special for me, because Jenn is my mentor. When I was beginning my freelance career, she challenged me, she encouraged me, she made me into a better photographer and more thoughtful storyteller. Having her as my photo editor, mentor, and friend has been one of the most inspiring experiences of my life.

FYI — I recently launched a new assignment, “While on a Walk…” which grew from an inspiring experience I had. I hope you will participate. I hope you will also submit to our “Underwater Beauty” assignment, curated by photographer and filmmaker Michaela Skovranova. Her work is magical. Her photos and films make me wish I was swimming. Even if you don’t participate, I highly advise you to take the time to check out her work. Trust me.

I also hope everyone votes for the community's Top Shot, which is featured everyday on our blog and Instagram. Curating the Daily Dozen is definitely an inspiring experience for me. For over a year and a half, I went through every photo uploaded to Your Shot, and I loved it. That was how I started my day. And so now, being able to highlight my 12 Your Shot favorites every day is special for me. Because I remember before I started here, I followed you on Instagram — which I have had the privilege of curating since I started — and was truly blown away by your photography.  I was inspired by you then, and I am inspired by you now.

Have a great weekend. I know the Your Shot team will — we are heading to San Francisco, CA to host a photo walk led by San Francisco Chronicle staff photographer Scott Strazzante, who curated our “Exploring Community” story. Check it out, there are some beautiful photos and stories.

So, keep up the good work everyone. Keep inspiring me. I love it.

David Y. Lee
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Opening Up for a 4th Submission...

Posted apr 4, 2018

I'm so grateful to connect with such a rich community of talented and engaged photographers. It's been a wonderful experience looking at all of your work and co-curating this assignment with David. With one week left in this assignment, we have already accumulated a wide edit of more than 500 favorite images.

As I've been reflecting on the breadth of locations and subjects documented in your work, I've also been contemplating the criteria David and I will use during our final editing session to select and sequence work in the assignment gallery. With so much compelling work submitted thus far, I anticipate it's going to be quite a conversation.

There is no doubt in my mind that members of the Your Shot community know how to make amazing images. But the word “assignment” means there is another level of criteria we must consider. The language in this assignment invites you to share photos inspired by your experiences and to take advantage of the caption to give us context for your choices. The submissions so far have been a near-perfect bell curve, with a small percentage not providing sufficient information in the caption, a small percentage offering a stunning amount of detail in their written storytelling, and the vast majority falling somewhere in the middle.

David's note from last week reinforced that there is no prescribed notion of what an inspiring image is or where it comes from. Inspiration is deeply personal and lives in moments big and small. So give us the opportunity to connect with both your visual and written storytelling.

So, with that guidance, we would like to open up the assignment to a fourth submission. Consider all of the feedback offered so far and choose carefully. I know I've been inspired looking at your work these last two weeks, and I can't wait to see what turns up in the final week. Keep up the great work, everyone.

Jenn Poggi

"Underwater Beauty" assignment

Posted apr 2, 2018
In case you missed it, we have launched a new assignment called “Underwater Beauty” which is curated by photographer and filmmaker Michaela Skovranova. Her work is breathtaking, so magical. Every time I look at her work, I just want to jump into the water and disappear into another world. She also has a wonderful blog ("Ocean Wanderings") about pursuing underwater photography. If I didn’t have this job, I would definitely be considering it. Michaela is just that inspiring for me.

David Y. Lee
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

Editor's Update 01

Posted mar 28, 2018

Great job everyone. Curating assignment is one of my favorite responsibilities working here at Your Shot. I love exploring the world through your photos and stories.

Remember, I want to be feel inspired by the experiences you document in your photos. I want to feel inspired when I read your caption describing the experience you photographed. I just want to be inspired.

You don’t have to share a wedding photo of you and your wife in front of an erupting volcano, or one of baby whale jumping out of the water on a foggy day for me to be inspired. Yes, we all wish we could stand onstage and photograph the musician Moby — I know I do.

Remember the feeling of inspiration can happen anywhere, and at any time. I love this photo (“Back to School”) by Your Shot photographer S. Markmann — not only is the light beautiful, not only is her composition fantastic as National Geographic photographer Diane Cook and Len Jenshel referenced in their Editor’s Note, I also love how thoughtful her caption is. I love how she is revealing why this moment is an inspiring experience for her. She has made me care beyond just a visually strong photo; she has made me care emotionally. I love that.

Use the light, composition, moment — make a visually strong photo that makes me feel something. Please take advantage of your captions to describe and explain what I am looking at, to further help me (and the global Your Shot community) recognize why the photos and stories you share is an inspiring experience.

Keep up the great work everyone. And as always, I highly encourage you to take advantage of the discussion board and ask the community for advice and feedback BEFORE submitting. We are going to open the assignment to a fourth submission — just not yet.

Until then, here is my first submission to the assignment.

David Y. Lee
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot

David Lee

David Lee

Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot
Before joining the Your Shot team, David covered the White House for Time and Newsweek, and served as an official photographer for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He also started The Waiting List, a non-profit storytelling project humanizing the statistics of organ donation.

Jenn Poggi

Jenn Poggi

Assistant Professor, RIT, School of Photographic Arts and Sciences
Jenn Poggi is an assistant professor in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences. She joined RIT after working as a picture editor and deputy director of the White House Photo Office under President Barack Obama. Poggi began her career with the Associated Press and later joined U.S. News & World Report, eventually serving as the magazine’s deputy director of photography. Jenn was awarded a John S. and James L. Knight Fellowship at Ohio University's School of Visual Communication where she taught picture editing while completing her master's degree in multimedia and newsroom graphics management. She serves on the faculty of The Kalish Visual Editing Workshop and was a member of the 2017 Women’s Executive Leadership Program​ at the Impact Center.