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  Photograph by Oscar Colorado from "Tatei Hikuri". 
Dear Spotlight Readers:

Photography changed the world last week. After viewing horrific photographs of child victims of the sarin gas attack by Syrian government forces, within days Donald Trump ordered the first U.S. direct attack against the Assad regime, bombing the air base where the attack originated. While speaking to the press Thursday night to announce the bombing, he closed with saying, "God bless America [pause] and the entire world." Was it a photograph the caused Trump to order the bombing and express deep sorrow for Muslim and Syrian children? By all press accounts it was.
This is not the first photograph that caused significant policy changes regarding the war in Syria. Two years ago, the photo of Aylan Kurdi's body washed up on a beach in Turkey opened Europe to nearly a million refugees. More recently the viral photo of a dazed and bloodied boy in an ambulance following a bombing in Aleppo was viewed millions of times across social media, but had less of an effect other than to elicit a response from Assad that the photo was staged.
What does this mean for the photo community and the public? Still photos still make a difference! While only one of the three cited above (Aylan Kurdi by Turkish photographer Nilufer Demir) was taken by a professional, other photographers whom we know well, such as Sergey Ponomarev, Tyler Hicks, Paula Bronstein, Hossein Fatemi, Daniel Berehulak, Ashley Gilbertson, and so many others continue to do brave and moving work from the front lines of world-changing events on a regular basis. All that is lacking is a well-funded and sustainable media that will continue to support this work. It has been the ubiquity of cheap digital cameras that has decimated the demand for professional photographers, but it is the same devices in the hands of ordinary citizens that will continue to provide important images regardless of the presence of skilled pros.
This month's featured photographer is David Sladek for his project "Unspoken Genocide: Survivors of WWII genocide speak after decades of silence." While the history of genocide in WWII is vast, a lesser-known chapter are the Serbs, Jews, and Roma who perished at the hands of the Croatian Ustashe that ruled fascist Croatia during WWII. Sadek's exhibit on SDN is just a glimpse of a larger project he plans to publish in a book which tells the stories of survivors.

Glenn Ruga 
SDN Founder & Director

Foundry Photojournalism Workshops

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David Sladek 
Unspoken Genocide: Survivors of WWII genocide speak after decades of silence 

David Sladek
Photograph by David Sladek from "Unspoken Genocide".   

Nightmares, family secrets and decades of pain -- such is the legacy of war to those who survived it. A lesser-known chapter of World War II left an inerasable mark on the post-war lives of Serbs, Jews and Roma who managed to see the end of a fascist rage in the Independent State of Croatia. Unimaginable horrors are still vivid in their memories despite all the tries to suppress them. Some of the stories were never told in full for personal reasons, but some were swept under the carpet by Tito's policy of "Unity and Brotherhood" which aimed to equalize all nations of the new Yugoslavia (including the two main sides of the genocide). Twenty survivors speak of their childhood amidst murders and concentration camps in a new book, Unspoken Genocide, due out in April 2017.
View exhibit and complete text >>

David Sladek
David Sladek is a Czech photojournalist living in London. He worked as a reporter for the Czech News Agency for several years and has been running his own internet news outlet after his departure. Since moving to London more than a decade ago, he has been focusing his photographic work on life of minorities and subcultures in England. Since 2015 he has been working on his largest project to date -- Unspoken Genocide -- capturing memories and emotions of survivors of the WWII genocide in the fascist Independent State of Croatia. Among his other topics are the phenomenon of British car boot sales and recent rise of demonstrations in London. 

April 2017 Spotlight

Featured exhibits submitted in March 2017.

Oscar Colorado
Tatei Hikuri>>
by Oscar Colorado/ Mexico

The Wirraritari people make a pilgrimage to the sacred land of Wirikuta to perform the "hunt of the blue deer". The Wirraritari communities make offerings on various stops along the road while they collect  cactus (Tatei Hikuri) with chants and ceremonies. They will carry peyote home ...

Ralph Piezas
A Glass Life>>
by Ralph Piezas/ Philippines

A peek into the life of two siblings who suffered from "brittle bone" disease or Osteogenesis imperfecta.

Ralph Piezas
Cradled by the Grave>>
by Ralph Piezas/ Philippines

A photo essay on how life thrives inside the cemetery. How poverty affected the living and also the dead.

A Special Child>>
by Towfiq Chowdhury/ Bangladesh

Bayezid Shikder is only 4 year, 5 month old and has a very rare genetic disorder which makes him look like an 80-year-old. When he  was born in 2012 in a maternity hospital, his parents were shocked and devastated by his appearance, and the doctors told them the outlook wasn't good. His...

Immigrant: Pit Master>>
by Bernadette Pollard/ United States

It's 11:00 AM and Francisco, a.k.a. "Frank The Tank", is just finishing his night shift as Pit Master at the famous La Barbecue in Austin, Texas. Frank loves his work and especially prides himself on his award-winning sausage recipes. He is 30 years old, originally from Leon ...

Women's March - Mexico City>>
by Marisol Cid/ Mexico

March 8, Mexico City. Thousands of women were marching, singing and showing the world that we are fed up with the macho violence that we live with day by day in the capital. I share glimpses of my walk and the anger of all those that we feel as women.

by Summer Moore/ United Kingdom

Being a British Asian, this body of photographic work reflects the photographers views on the Sikh culture and faith and how it has both westernized and modernized to integrate with British culture. Through photographing her subjects from an insider's perspective, the work aims to explore ...

Hadama - Shabiya 12>>
by Alberto Mesirca/ United Arab Emirates

Hadama (هدم), to demolish, is what is written on the walls of the houses of Shabiya 12, a neighborhood at the periphery of Abu Dhabi and home to migrant building workers from the Indian subcontinent who came attracted by the work opportunities. Here wealth and poverty brush without intersecting, ...

Hourglass - Syrian Crisis>>
by Chris Luk/ Jordan

In December 2016, I accompanied the ICRC and the Hong Kong Red Cross to visit the Syrian refugees in Jordan, both inside the Zaatari refugee camp as well as in the community. This body of work aims to reiterate the long-term needs of humanitarian work presented like a summary of the dire situation....

Me and Julia>>
by Jennifer Donaldson/ United Kingdom

Me and Julia is a body of work that follows the intimate relationship between the photographer and the subject matter. After the death of her late husband, Julia became lonely and stuck in her everyday life as she ages. The project was produced in order to allow Julia to be seen in a way ...

Advisory Committee
Lori Grinker
Steve Horn
Ed Kashi
Molly Roberts
Jeffrey D. Smith
Stephen Walker
Frank Ward

Glenn Ruga
Founder & Director

Barbara Ayotte
Communications Director

Caterina Clerici

Special Issue Editor 

Kelly Kolias
Laney Ruckstuhl

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Documentary Matters
Tuesday, April 11, Boston
Sarah Blesener to be Guest Presenter 
If you are looking for feedback on your documentary work or a place to meet with others involved with or interested in documentary photography, join SDN and Digital Silver Imaging for Documentary Matters. This is a free and open meeting for anyone interested in presenting, viewing, or discussing documentary photography. Glenn Ruga from the Social Documentary Network and ZEKE magazine will moderate the meeting. More » 

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.