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The Untold Story Behind A World-Famous Photographer’s Favorite Picture

The following article was produced with our partners at Johnson & Johnson.

Photos have the power to stop wars, inspire love, honor the dead, and alert the world when Nicolas Cage’s hair looks remarkably similar to a bird. The right shot can make you cry, laugh, or google ” Nicolas Cage bird hair.” That’s why Johnson & Johnson created the Donate A Photo app, to use the power of photography to make a difference. For every photo users submit through the app, the company gives one dollar to the photographer’s cause of choice.*

Today’s shot comes from fashion photographer and TV personality Nigel Barker, who’s donation will go to the USO to help a deployed service member call home. Barker’s most powerful photo isn’t of a model strutting it up on the catwalk; it’s of his grandfather during World War 2. Here’s why:

“This is a photo of my grandfather that my grandmother kept by her bedside pretty much all her life. He was a petty officer on the 1000-man aircraft carrier HMS Hermes during World War 2, which got bombed by the Japanese, but he was one of 70 survivors. When he was out at sea, she would look at it, smile, and think about him with this wry little smile he has in the picture. On the back of the photo, it says “Lots of love — Jacka,” my grandmother’s nickname for him, Jack. She never framed the picture because she liked to turn it over and see the back where he had touched it with his hands.”

“I actually have an uncanny resemblance to him. And before my grandmother died at 96, she would go in and out of consciousness, look at me, and sometimes think I was her husband who had passed away and come back to her. We only had 4 photographs of my grandfather, but this was the only candid shot.”

The USO is dedicated to keeping members of the U.S. armed services connected to the people, places and things they love. Join Nigel Barker and Johnson & Johnson in supporting the USO by donating your photo to the free app.

*Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes, and you can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn’t reached, the cause will still get a minimum donation.