Photo by Michele Zousmer
 Photo by Michele Zousmer, from "Hidden Ireland--Irish Travellers". 

Dear Spotlight Readers:

There is an inherent contradiction in what we do as documentary photographers.
On one hand, we focus our camera on marginalized, often poor, frequently discriminated, and most often under-reported and under-appreciated communities or issues around the world. We are drawn to photos of people who are not rushed (because they are not on the clock or enhancing their brand), who take time for family (because no other support network is at the core of the human species), and show signs of wear (because they are weary). Often their homes have a rich patina of age because whatever resources are available go towards the necessities of life, not a new roof or paint job. All of this makes for photos that provide a rich and telling background of the global human condition.
On the other hand, to record and display these documentary images requires costly digital cameras and computers connected to the global internet of servers, printers, websites, applications, social media and smart phones--all of which requires tremendous expenditures of money.
Our goal with SDN is to use the resources available to show the dignity, perseverance, and inherent worth of the vast majority of the human species that is cut off from this web of the well-connected and in many cases are the direct victims of the concentration of power and wealth.
We understand this contradiction but it doesn't get in the way of our commitment to using the documentary form to bend the arc of history towards justice. That is what we hope to achieve with SDN and we know that many of you strive for the same. It is a privilege to be able to work with you on this journey.

Glenn Ruga 
SDN Founder & Director     

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March 2018 Spotlight

Life in the Ozarks: An Arkansas Portrait>>
by Beverly Conley/ United States

My ongoing project began in 2003 with a drive down a rural country road. I had recently moved to Fayetteville and was anxious to explore my new surroundings. The resulting images and narratives tell the stories of people, events and everyday...

The Witness Tree>>
by Carolyn Monastra/ United States, Antarctica, China, India, Brazil, Australia & others

The Witness Tree is a project about the effects of climate change around the world. From the melting ice of Antarctica to the wild fires of Australia, I am drawn to precious and precarious places that mark the shifting boundaries between nature and the effects of our not-so-natural disasters. The ...

War Zone>>
by Oleksandr Rupeta/ Ukraine

For several years I have been making a project about the Ukrainian-Russian conflict. The project consists of photos made in the period from 2015 to 2017 and showing people's life on the frontline, military and civilians training and ATO veterans daily life.

Hidden ireland - Irish Travellers>>
by Michele Zousmer/ Ireland

Many are not aware of the Irish Traveller community. They are also referred to as gypsies, itinerants, tinkers and knackers. They live following a strict code of behavior that dictates their moral beliefs and influences their behavior. I found them to be a beautiful group of people who put great importance...

As Is>>
by Amy Gelb/ United States

Why can't we shift the conversation away from being beautiful to more meaningful aspects of ourselves and each other? This is the question I would like to try to answer with my series, As Is. There are people trying to expand the definition of beauty, and that is a very positive thing, but...

Defending the Bialowieza Forest>>
by Jacek Kusz/ Poland

Protests against logging activities in the Bialowieza Forest World heritage site, one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain. In 2017, large scale cutting by mechanical harvesters began under the pretext of fighting...

Air's Value>>
by Emiliano Cribari/ Italy

Armido first learned about his illness -- a very aggressive form of ALS -- in September 2016, after a serious respiratory arrest. Since his admission at the nursing home, a slow and painful agony began, during which Armido had to live a excruciating series of "last times": always completely ...

The Hidden Face of Life in Nepal>>
by Marco Sadori/ Italy

This project is an investigation of Nepal's identity today and its social condition. Beyond the widespread stereotype of Nepal as an exotic place of calm, peace and happiness, there is a very complex reality, where the identity is not well defined. A place where poverty...

Rebuild Center, New Orleans, LA>>
by Frank Coco/ United States

The Rebuild Center in New Orleans is a place where homeless people and transients can obtain services that are often difficult for them to obtain. Some of these services are a mailing address, medical assistance, prescription drug assistance, and counseling. A free hot lunch is served Monday through...

Life Force>>
by Constanza Portnoy/ Argentina

Oblivion can become a silent weapon of contempt and discrimination. All human beings need bonds of love and support to develop in a healthy way. However, society has often shown that stigma, prejudice and disregard are the most common ways to make a person with a disability became invisible. 

Beach Lovers>>
by Erica Reade/ United States

I spend a lot of time observing New York City beach-goers; their bodies swaying in the waves, splayed out asleep on sandy towels, or chasing children with sunscreen. We are exposed on the beach, stripped of our clothes, our makeup, our status markers. My involvement with the subjects is one of an observer and...

Advisory Committee
Lori Grinker
Catherine Karnow
Ed Kashi
Molly Roberts
Jeffrey D. Smith
Jamey Stillings
Stephen Walker
Frank Ward
Amy Yenkin

Glenn Ruga
Founder & Director

Barbara Ayotte
Communications Director

Caterina Clerici

Special Issue Editor 

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About Social Documentary Network
Social Documentary Network is a website for photographers, NGOs, journalists, editors, and students to create and explore documentary exhibits investigating critical issues facing the world today. Recent exhibits have explored oil workers in the Niger River Delta, male sex workers in India, Central American immigrant women during their journey north, and Iraqi and Afghan refugees in Greece. Click here to view all of the exhibits.