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Dear Spotlight Readers:

I would like to start off by thanking everyone who submitted to our Call for Entries on The Fine Art of Documentary and also thank the judges who reviewed the entries. Isadora Kosofsky, SDN's July Featured Photographer of the Month, received first place for "Vinny and David: Life and Incarceration of a Family". Click here to view all the winners and links to their exhibits on SDN.
If you have been reading our other emails sent out this past month, you may have seen that we are developing a new innovation in documentary called LiveZEKE. We are very excited to be showcasing a prototype at Photoville this September in Brooklyn, NY. LiveZEKE will do what has never been done before--bring the subjects of a documentary into direct conversation with the audience of the documentary. Click here to learn more and how you can support this innovation. We also need volunteers to help us at Photoville. if you are available any days or evenings between September 20-25 in the New York area, please email us at
ZEKE ad We are also very excited to be finishing up the fourth issue of ZEKE magazine due out in late September. The features in this issue will be Cuba, the Stateless Rohingya, and Isadora's Kosovsky's exhibit on Vinny and David. There will also be an interview with Eritrean-Swedish photographer and filmmaker Malin Fezehai, and other articles of interest to the documentary community. If you are not already a subscriber to ZEKE, click here.
This month's featured photographer, Ryogo Shioda, is focusing on the devastating effects of arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh and using a non-conventional approach to documentary to do it. Arsenic in our environment is but one small challenge we face on this planet, but without committed photographers, activists, writers, artists and others bringing awareness to these issues, we would be at the mercy of government and industry to tell us what is going on. While both can be a force for good in this world, if led by people driven by their self-interest, they can and will wreak havoc.

Glenn Ruga
SDN Founder & Director 
Ryogo Shioda

Photo by Ryogo Shioda from Arsenic.
Ryogo Shioda
August 2016 Featured Photographer of the Month
Arsenic (Bangladesh)    

Arsenic pollution through ground water has become a serious social problem in Asia. Arsenic is absorbed into the human body through well water and it has a negative impact on a variety of organs such as the skin. This phenomenon is frequently reported along the rivers, which come from the Tibetan plateau. According to a report in the British medical journal, The Lancet, in 2010, up to 77 million people face a threat of arsenic in Bangladesh, the largest number of victims reported.

View exhibit and complete text >>

Ryogo Shioda is a self-taught photographer based in Japan where he has exhibited his work widely. Currently, he is shooting for magazines and advertisements with a focus on documentary. He was a finalist in SDN's Call for Entries on The Fine Art of Documentary. His personal projects are arsenic pollution through groundwater in Bangladesh, the struggle against plundering of the farmland in Narita Airport in Japan, and the social landscape in Seoul.   

August 2016 Spotlight

Featured Exhibits Submitted in July 2016.

After the War : Portraits of Tamil Women>>
by Mandy Glinsbockel/ Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan Civil War lasted for over 25 years as an armed conflict between the Sri Lankan military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the LTTE), who fought in an attempt to create an independent Tamil state in the north and east of the island. With estimates of ...

Under the Surface>>
by Fulvio Bugani/ Cuba

Cuba is very different and much more complex than it is often described.  To grasp its facets you have to go beyond its irresistible attractions and catch what lies below the surface, by mixing with people, letting yourself be carried away by the throbbing everyday life, experiencing Cuban...

The Radioactive and Rusty Gold of Chernobyl>>
by Pierpaolo Mittica/ Ukraine

2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. All the media have spoken extensively about Chernobyl, but after documenting for more than 14 years the Chernobyl consequences, I found some interesting and unknown stories inside the zone. One of these stories is about the recycling of radioactive ...

The Korean War Veteran>>
by John Quintero/ Colombia

A series about Oscar Ramirez (1932-2015) a Colombian soldier who fought during the Korean War in 1950. Known in Korea as the Yug ee oh (6-2-5) war, a reference to the 25th June, 1950, the day North Korea invaded the South, supported by China and the Soviet Union. Two days later, the United Nations ...

Faces Behind Your Coffee>>
by Ilene Perlman/ Rwanda

These photographs are from my recent trip to Rwanda to document the people behind the coffee industry. In Rwanda, most of the coffee farmers are part of small cooperatives representing 100-300 farmers. My images were taken visiting the farmers at their homes and their fields and the washing stations ...

The Forgotten People>>
by Nathalie Bertrams/ Lebanon

Lebanon hosts an estimated 450,000 stateless Palestinians, descendants of the refugees fleeing the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, as well as Syrian-Palestinians forced into second exile since 2012. They constitute one of the world's longest-established refugee populations and are in limbo since almost...

Migrant Sugarcane Workers of India>>
by David Goldman/ India

This story is about how the commoditized and marginalized migrant sugarcane workers in India are essentially stuck in a loop in which they desperately want to educate their children to ensure a better life but because of lack of money they are not in a position to send their kids to school. As a...

Hoodied Up!>>
by Titus Brooks Heagins/ United States

The narrative of "Hoodied Up" is complicated. The portraits tell not only the stories of oppositional fashion, but also of people fleeing ephemerally across a social and racial landscape without the ability to establish their own permanence. This is because the social, economic, and racial...

The First Fortnight of Brexistential Crisis>>
by Debiprasad Mukherjee/ United Kingdom

"Old is dying and the new cannot be born." This is probably the most appropriate phrase to describe the situation of the UK after the first 15 days of declaration of the BREXIT result. Confusions, predictions and expectations are everywhere in everyone's mind. Some of them still believe that...

LIFT: Women Powerlifters>>
by Liane Brandon/ United States

This series of photographs documents four women powerlifters -- women who defy physical and cultural stereotypes. The women in these photographs range in age from 27 to 63 and they are smart, interesting and strong. They have all won regional, national or world competitions. Lodrina is a forensic ...

The Hidden Flow of Leonte>>
by Luigi Avantaggiato/ Lebanon

"Hidden Leonte" is a cross-media documentary project that discloses the different mandates of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon's (UNIFIL) mission: day and night-time patrols, establishment of observation points, installations of Blue Pillar, monitoring of the Blue Line, clearing land mines, education, interactions and support with ...

Streets Paved With Dreams>>
by Virginia Allyn/ United States

This story is a familiar story -- in search of a better life people have gambled on coming to America.  Willets Point, Queens, New York has served as a refuge and a place to make a living for newcomers to America.  Today this once busy and thriving place looks like a ...

Transplants in the Gaza Strip>>
by Craig Stennett/ occupied palestinian territory

I've been involved with the Liverpool International Transplant Initiative for a number of years and have visited Gaza on four occasions with the British Medical Team. What strikes me about the NGO's goal is that it's not simply to enter the Strip every six months to perform much needed ...

The American Student Movement Today>>
by Alfredo Bini/ United States

Following the People of Seattle and Occupy Wall Street, the American Student Movement regrouped around a new focus. Issues of racism, human and civil rights in the work arena, immigration rights, resistance against police brutality, the atrocious conditions of the jail system, and the climate change ...

Streets of Detroit>>
by Eric Smith/ United States

An overview and impressions of life in Detroit from 2010 to the present.

Advisory Committee
Kristen Bernard
Lori Grinker
Steve Horn
Ed Kashi
Jeffrey D. Smith
Stephen Walker
Frank Ward
Jamie Wellford

Glenn Ruga
Founder & Director

Barbara Ayotte
Communications Director

Caterina Clerici

Special Issue Editor 

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Submit Your Work to SDN
Find out how to have your work featured on the SDN website, included in ZEKE, Spotlight, and eligible for Featured Photographer of the Month.  
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Calling All Volunteers 
SDN needs volunteers to help us set up and run the LiveZEKE exhibition at Photoville in Brooklyn, NY this fall. If you have daytime or evening hours available September 20-25, please email us at and let us know what your availability is. Click here to find out more about LiveZEKE. 
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Subscribe to ZEKE magazine and get the best of global documentary photography delivered to your door, and to your digital device, twice a year. Each issue presents outstanding photography from the Social Documentary Network. 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.