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Dear Spotlight Readers:

First off, let me wish everyone a happy new year!

I often begin this column with an overarching political commentary rather than discussing more photocentric concepts. This is  consistent with the core beliefs of SDN where context is first and foremost what drives us. Visual imagery is just our way of getting there.
This year has begun with a rather auspicious bang following the  execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia that has set off a confrontation with Iran and both nations' regional client states. As of this writing, the lines are being drawn and it is only a matter of time before the world's superpowers will be forced to take sides. Russia no doubt will side with Iran even though at the moment it is calling for restraint. The US is playing a neutral card but may be forced to show its hand because of Congressional and public pressure against Iran. China is showing restraint because its business interests lie in stability. War and greater conflict in the Middle East will serve no one's interest other than that of the hard liners across the region. The term World War III is being heard with increasing frequency. Let's hope that world powers have learned a hard lesson from prior world wars to limit their bravado and self-interest in a quest for a greater peace. The alternative is just too frightening.
This month's featured photographer is Astrid Schulz for her project on 100 Faces of Viet Nam. At a time of so much tension in the world, it is heartening to see an exhibit about a country experiencing a renaissance of human potential 40 years after fighting and winning a devastating war against the U.S. and has now come to be our friend. Schulz's photographs are heavily influenced by her theater and TV background as evidenced by the impeccable composition and lighting of each frame. She also adds  intimate and important details about her subjects. Astrid's words and photos together weave an important story about the resiliency of the human spirit.

During the past month, we have received more exhibits than usual because of our Call for Entries that closes on Friday. As a result we are only able to select just a sampling of December's exhibits to present in this issue of Spotlight. If you would like to view all the work submitted to the Call for Entries, you can visit this link.

Glenn Ruga
SDN Founder and Director

Astrid Schulz

Photo by Astrid Schulz from 100 Faces of Viet Nam
Astrid Schulz
January 2016 Featured Photographer of the Month
100 Faces of Viet Nam 

This portfolio shows a selection of portraits across Viet Nam representing a society which is on the brink of change. It shows the people from a developing country caught between tradition and modernity. Photographed in five different cities from the north to the south, these portraits allow a view into people's homes and work places plus an insight into their lives and concerns -- some of them are unexpected. 

View Exhibit >>

Astrid Schulz Astrid Schulz has been a professional photographer for 12 years, specializing in portraiture and documentary. Born in Germany, she now lives in central London. However, she frequently travels abroad for her assignments and personal projects. In recent years, she spent seven months in Vietnam and one month in Senegal and also exhibited her work internationally during several artist residencies. Influenced by her background as a designer for film and TV, as well as her passion for storytelling, her pictures open up an informative window into people's lives. Astrid has been a contributor to five book publications; one of them won an award in 2015. She is currently working on the project "100 Faces of Viet Nam", which will be her first solo book. 

January 2016 Spotlight

Featured exhibits submitted in December 2015 

Margarita Mavromichalis
by Margarita Mavromichalis/ Greece

We can argue about politics, the economy, religion and all we can think of, but there should be no arguments when it comes to human lives in peril.  I come from a country, Greece, that has been facing the worse economic crisis in modern history and its people have been suffering more ...

Michael Biach
by Michael Biach/ Bosnia and Herzegovina

Almost two decades after the war in Bosnia & Herzegovina ended the country remains threatened by nearly 120,000 landmines, buried in the ground along former front lines. As urban areas are largely cleared, people living in the remote countryside are permanently threatened by the silent hazard ...

Alfredo Macchi
by Alfredo Macchi/ Afghanistan, Libya, West Bank

War Landscapes is a photo project based on an exhibition and a photobook with about 100 black and white images taken in fifteen years of work in major conflict areas of the world.  I took a lot of photos of despair, screaming and pain, but for this book I chose images of landscapes...

Jan Banning
by Jan Banning/ Colombia, France, Uganda, USA

Law & Order is a rare and innovative book about criminal justice combining the world of photographic art with that of legal science. The photos reveal the daily realities of police, courts and the often hidden prison conditions in Colombia, France, Uganda and the United States of America.

by David Verberckt/ Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, Georgia, Transnistria

Frozen Conflicts. A journey through the unrecognized frontiers of Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and Transnistria, countries and defacto independent territories which are at a standstill since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Some people live their lives like many others but have a different status...

by Stephen Petegorsky/ Nicaragua, Honduras, Colombia, Ethiopia, Peru, Jordan, Tajikistan

Since 1998, I have photographed the work of the Polus Center for Social and Economic Development, a small human services organization whose international projects assist people with victims of conflict and people with disabilities. Their first efforts led to the opening of the Walking Unidos prosthetics...

by Larry Louie/ Nepal

In Kathmandu, Nepal, six months after the devastating earthquake in April, tens of thousands of people are still living in temporary shelters and tent areas. Rebuilding efforts after the earthquake are in chaos with the new Nepalese government and are compounded by the fuel crisis ...

by Mark Parascandola/ Spain

La Chanca is a historically impoverished zone made up of small dwellings built into the hillside on the outskirts of Almería, Spain. The inhabitants painted their homes using whatever ingredients were available, resulting in a multicolored patchwork. Ruins still remain of a nineteenth century lead ...

by jordi pizarro/ India

In only four decades, Ghoramara has lost more than 75 percent of its territory. Erosion and sea rising due to climate change are responsible for such a loss. While experts look for scientific explanations, the island's five thousand inhabitants strive to protect what is left and get prepared for ...

by Pierpaolo Mittica/ Japan, Russia, Ukraine

Since the use of civilian nuclear energy began in the early 1950s, thousands of serious incidents have occurred in nuclear reactors scattered around the world. Three of these major incidents have marked the history and life of millions of people, past, present and future. These include...

by David Verberckt/ Armenia

In December 1988, a powerful 6.9 magnitude earthquake rocked the north of Armenia, killing more than 25,000 people and making over half a million people homeless. The earthquake flattened the town of Spitak and much of the nearby cities, Gyumri and Vanadzor. Three years later...

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

Paula Sokolska
ZEKE Writer & Editor 

Caterina Clerici

Special Issue Editor  

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SDN News

Reading the Pictures Salon: The Visual Framing of the Migrant Crisis
Sunday, January 10, 11:00 am EST 
Photos of the migrant crisis have dominated the media space over the past year. What can we learn from the way traditional and social media, primarily in the west, has depicted the crisis in terms of context; scale and scope; demographics (including gender, race and nationality); geopolitics; aesthetics; empathy and sensitivity?  
Reading the Pictures Salon brings together the eyes and voices of leading photojournalists, editors, visual academics and highly-informed observers to discuss and analyze the most vital and interesting news images of the day. Join us for the discussion and participate live in an accompanying chatroom. 
Order ZEKE Magazine
Zeke fall 2015
Current issue includes documentary features on Syria, Migration, and Gender and interviews with Marcus Bleasdale and Alice Gabriner (International Photo Editor for TIME).
To order >> 


Have your work reviewed by editors from Time, Nat Geo, Smithsonian, NYTimes, and LA Times
Winner to be featured in spring 2016 ZEKE and $1,000 honoraria 
SDN Call for Entries logo Send us your best documentary projects and photo editors from Time, Smithsonian, National Geographic, New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times will review them. All entries are exhibited on the SDN website and most appear in our monthly Spotlight, and are sent out through our social media. 

Deadline for submissions:
January 8

More information & to enter >> 

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.  
Find out how >>

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.