What an honor it has been to curate this assignment for the Your Shot community. We asked for you to reflect on your life and what you are grateful for, and what I read and saw were moments of pure joy, courageous uphill battles, and many gut-wrenching moments that transformed you. You pushed yourselves to view your pictures in new ways. And many of you added depth to your photographs by writing captions that made me care about your imagery and left me wanting more. I have been captivated by the quality of your submissions.
It is not always easy to share photographs or stories that are intimate to us. When my daughter was hospitalized and waiting for her heart transplant, I photographed many difficult days alongside the happy stuff. I wanted people to know her truth, her battle. By using my imagery and her story, I wanted to encourage people to register as organ donors and say “yes” to the gift of life. Guess what? It worked. Many have signed up because of her story. The point is not to pat myself on the back, but rather to remind you that your photography and your words have power. You can influence those around you by being purposeful and thoughtful in your art. I believe this assignment has proved just that.
So many of your stories and photographs have left a lasting impression on me. So thank you, Your Shot community, for taking this assignment so seriously and for showing vulnerability in your submissions. I am humbled to have been an editor for such a meaningful Your Shot assignment, and to have interacted with such talented artists from around the globe.
I completely agree with what Joni has already written. When Joni began sharing her daughter’s story with my project, “The Waiting List,” I never could have imagined that three years later, she would be curating a story about the gift of life for National Geographic’s global photo community. The photos and stories you have shared exceeded my expectations, and I thank each of you for being a part of it. Never forget that through your work, you can inspire a positive action to make a difference. Please say yes to the gift of life and register as an organ donor. Your decision and final act of kindness might save someone like Joni's daughter. Thank you.
David Y. Lee
Producer, Nat Geo Your Shot