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Dear Spotlight Readers:

I am dedicating this issue of Spotlight to a very special person, my mom, who passed away last week at 87 years old.

Bernice Ruga was a child of the depression. She grew up in a tenement in Brooklyn while WWII and The Holocaust raged overseas. She survived childhood polio, colon cancer, and breast cancer. She was a fighter and survivor till the end when her body's survival mechanisms could not withstand the inevitability of age. Within 12 hours of having a massive stroke, she was no longer with us.

Bernice & Kaia
Bernice and her great granddaughter Kaia doing their nails together.
Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook for my mom. The day before she died, she sat at her 27-inch iMac to keep track of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, friends and relatives scattered across the globe. And Skype let her see and talk with her great grandchildren in California, some whom she never met in person. I only wish she discovered Flickr because now my brother and are left to scan her thousands of photos kept in albums, envelopes, shoe boxes, and folders filling up the drawers of her few cabinets.

Photography to my mother was not about art or documentary or journalism. Photography for her was to celebrate the people she knew and loved and loved her. Before Zuckerberg there were George Eastman and Edwin Land, both whose greatness was founded on the belief that there was a consumer market for capturing a moment and either within days or instantly, be able to look at and experience those moments again in the comfort of your kitchen. My mom's refrigerator was plastered with such images.

This leads me to to this month's featured photographer, Albertina d'Urso, who has followed another diaspora forced into exile by a repressive regime. Her project, Out of Tibet, documents Tibetans who have fled their home because of the repressive, if not genocidal, policies of China's leaders in their quest to make Tibet in China's image. D'Urso's magnificent photos are now available in a book published by Dewi Lewis. Her photos are art, documentary, and journalism all rolled into one. But to the Tibetans, like to my mother, none of that really matters. What does matter is that they are photos of people deserving our love and attention.

Glenn Ruga
SDN Founder & Director 

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The Fine Art of Documentary

Albertina d'Urso

Photo by Albertina d'Urso from Out of Tibet.
Albertina d'Urso
June 2016 Featured Photographer of the Month
Out of Tibet     

For more than 10 years, Albertina d'Urso has followed in the footsteps of Tibetans forced to escape from their homeland, many of whom crossed the Himalayan range by foot, to defend their cultural and religious identity, their traditions and their language from Chinese repression. In Out Of Tibet she has documented their new lives throughout the world -- including several areas of India (Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Sikkim, Darjeeling, Ladakh, Bodhgaya), as well as in Nepal, Taiwan, New York, London, Paris, Zurich, Rome, Brussels, Amsterdam and Toronto.
View exhibit and complete text >>

Albertina d'Urso
Italian born Albertina d'Urso has worked on many social and humanitarian reportages. She has received several awards including Canon Young Photographer, Lens Culture International Exposure Award, Julia Margaret Cameron Award and International Photography Awards. She has exhibited internationally including shows in Cambodia, Korea, the United States, France and Italy and her work features regularly in magazines such as Vanity Fair, Marie Claire, Panorama, L'Espresso, Photo, and Vision. Her new book Out of Tibet has been recently released by Dewi Lewis Publishing.  

June 2016 Spotlight 
Featured exhibits submitted to SDN in May 2016


Rodrique Zahr
Cuba, A defrosting nation>>
by Rodrigue Zahr/ Cuba

I traveled to Cuba at the end of April this year. Sometime after Obama's visit and almost at the same time as CHANEL's fashion show, Fast & Furious movie shooting, and the first American cruise to dock in Cuban waters...

Mick Stetson
Minamata's Living Legacy>>
by Mick Stetson/ Japan

A visual record of the devastating results of the Chisso-Minamata Disease, as it continues to be lived by the few surviving victims and their community. Imagine an enemy, bold and brazen, in front of your eyes, yet hidden. The enemy secretly poisons the sea that feeds you, hides ...

Lou Jones
by Lou Jones/ Africa

For the last several generations, media coverage of Africa has been both naïve and slanted. What western media deems newsworthy has largely been limited to pestilence, poverty, conflict, and wildlife. The real image is much more complex. Over one billion people go to work, raise and educate their...

Keiko Hiromi
Hibakusha: Testimonials of Hiroshima and Nagaski>>
by Keiko Hiromi/ Japan

A series of portraits and testimonials from atomic bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On August 6, 1945 at 8:15, the world's first atomic bomb "Little Boy" was dropped in downtown Hiroshima...

Dario De Dominicis
To the left of Christ>>
by Dario De Dominicis/ Brazil

In June 2014, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations approved an international resolution helping artisanal fishery, highlighting that it represents more than 90% of the world's extractive fishing. As a photographer, I wanted to investigate the state of degradation and...

Wojciech Ryzinski
Great Hounds in Need>>
by Wojciech Ryzinski/ Ireland

The sight-hounds live normally for 12 to 14 years. In Ireland the majority of them will live only 3 to 4 years. This is because greyhounds are just consumables here. Every year a few thousand greyhounds are retired from racing and coursing. No longer required, they are dumped, abused, abandoned...

Rick Mave
Time to change>>
by Rick Mave/ Myanmar

Time to change, vote to change, this motto has been the core of the 2015 election campaigning of the National League for Democracy (NLD) lead by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi; a change towards democracy after more than 50 years of military dictatorship. During the past elections ...

Amrish Chandan
by Amrish Chandan/ India

Being a single child can be difficult. The afternoons are spent in the company of a sliver of sunlight streaming in through a window. The toy truck is shared with imaginary friends. The house is devoid of the sounds of squabbles and "It's mine!" "No, it's mine!" ...

Joe Reynolds
In Communion With Soil>>
by Joe Reynolds/ Brazil

These photographs describe the Brazilian mining town, Cristalandia, as a place. They are made from an understanding that place is personal not political, that place is created from shared experiences with land and people, and that shared experiences overcome political divisions and allow us to belong...

Francisco Alcala Torreslanda
Dry Land Flower>>
by Francisco Alcala Torreslanda/ Mexico

During the last three years I have been documenting empowering activities of women in rural communities of the center of Mexico. Rural regions account for 80% of the land in Mexico and although home to up to 25% of the population, they are host to 60% of the country's extreme poor and 45% of the...

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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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.