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Dear Spotlight Readers:

Spotlight normally comes out once a month to present featured work submitted to SDN during the prior month. Given our recent Call for Entries and the unprecedented number of exhibits submitted in just a few weeks, we are publishing two issues of Spotlight this month to give us the opportunity to present more of this work without overwhelming our readers. The featured photographer of the month will be announced in our first issue in February as usual.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who submitted work to the Call for Entries. We received 140 outstanding entries. All the work submitted can be viewed here. The judges are now reviewing the submissions and the winners will be announced by February 15.

In closing, I would like say how saddened we are to learn of the death of the thirty-three year-old French-Moroccan photographer Leila Alaoui, who was wounded in the Burkina Faso terrorist attack on January 15 and later died of her injuries. Ms. Alaoui was in Burkina Faso on assignment for Amnesty International. As reported in the New York Times today,  "Ms. Alaoui was described as one of the most promising photographers of her generation by Jean-Luc Monterosso, director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris."

Glenn Ruga
SDN Founder and Director

January 2016 Spotlight, Special Issue

by Sarah Stacke/ United States

Melanie explores what being a woman means to her. The social process of becoming a woman, whether born female or transitioning later, is complex and combines both experiences and a socialized perception of gender norms. When someone wants to be recognized as a woman, how does society encourage her...

Beyond the borders - explorations among the refugees of the South Caucasus>>
by Jan Zychlinski/ Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Nagorno Karabakh

From September 2014 to February 2015, I traveled through the South Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan) to document the fate and living conditions of refugees from the conflicts after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In several previous visits to the Caucasus ...

Ghost Villages>>
by Mick Stetson/ Nepal

Priya Gurung knows ten people who left her village to work overseas. Today, the young are no longer happy living traditional lifestyles, instead they dream of the success the modern world promises. In Nepal's rural villages, very few people remain. What were once thriving, autonomous villages ...

La Nieve y la Flor>>
by Annalisa Natali Murri/ Cuba

Humans have always migrated for dissimilar reasons, but the Russian migration to Cuba is the only one of this magnitude that has been impelled by love. Cuba has maintained for decades ideological and cultural ties with USSR. Among many things, this led thousands to travel from the island to the...

An ordinary day>>
by Carla Fiorina/ India

With almost 8 million blind people, India accounts for 20% of the total blind population in the world. What's worse, 75% of the cases could have been prevented or cured.  This photo essay shows an ordinary day of a tiny fraction of that figure ...

Portrait of the Cuban School of Ballet>>
by Rebekah Bowman/ Cuba

The Cuban National Ballet School's reputation for training world-class dancers using a method codified by its founders to express a Latin aesthetic and sensibility, and classical ballet's tremendous popularity on ...

The seven skirts of Nazaré>>
by Gonçalo Cunha de Sá/ Portugal

Bigger boats tint the horizon while small family boats carve past adventures in the sand. They sail in the dreams and memories of older people. Soon, only old photographs will defy time and tell the story of this village. The hope, the hardship, the grief, all...

Post-Elections Crisis in Burundi>>
by Christophe Viseux/ Burundi

Post-election crisis in Burundi. More than six months after the announcement of Nkurunziza seeking a controversial third term, Burundi and the capital Bujumbura are still experiencing a state of unrest. In recent weeks, there has been an increase of violence within the neighborhoods...

by Ricardo Teles/ Brazil

The town of Codó, in Brazil's northeastern state of Maranhão, is the cradle of a peculiar Afro-Indian-Portuguese religious cult called Terecô da Mata Codoense, born when runaway slaves met local native Indians in the babaçu palm forests of the region...

Take Me to the River>>
by Michael Kolster/ United States

Take Me to the River looks at five post-industrial rivers, the Androscoggin (ME/NH), the Schuylkill (PA), the James (VA), the Savannah (SC/GA) and the Los Angeles (CA), as they emerge from almost two centuries of disgrace. These contemporary ambrotypes try to remind us that our waterways...

The Dwindling Seas>>
by Rémi Chauvin/ Australia

Kiribati is made up of a scattering of atolls within an ocean the size of the United States, stretching across all four hemispheres. Within its waters are some of the most abundant fishing grounds in the world, with tuna the main catch. Kiribati sells licenses to foreign countries to fish in their...

Fighting HIV>>
by John Rae/ India, Romania, Gambia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, El Salvador, Paraguay

John Rae is a professional documentary photographer based in New York. For the past 13 years, he has been working in collaboration with The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria on the frontlines of the world's response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. This collaboration has taken John to...

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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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).
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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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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.