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For Immediate Release
January 6, 2009

Barbara Ayotte, Director of Communications


SocialDocumentary.net, a new website, was launched this week and features online documentary photography exhibits created by photographers from around the world-images and words that are devoted entirely to exploring the global human condition through the documentary form. A beta version of the site was launched in October 2008.

SocialDocumentary.net, the fastest growing documentary site, currently features more than 110 exhibits on topics such as: religion in India and Tibet; gang violence in Baltimore; homelessness in London and Los Angeles; daily life in Cuba, Mexico, Siberia, Namibia, and Vermont; education of girls in Afghanistan and special needs kids in the US; racism in the UK; childbirth; the effect of logging on reindeer herders in Finland; industrial workers in Ohio; and reconciliation in Rwanda, among many other pressing issues. Visit the Best of 2008 on SocialDocumentary.net

"SocialDocumentary.net (SDN) is committed to providing a platform for talented photographers the world over--whose work is often not able to be viewed elsewhere-- who bring us honest, compelling, and sensitive images and help us better understand the issues of our times," said Glenn Ruga, publisher and founder of SDN.  

Unlike other image sharing sites, such as Flickr or Shutterfly, SDN staff reviews all exhibits and hosts only those with a strong point of view, documentary integrity, and high technical quality. "There are no other sites devoted entirely to documentary that allow photographers--both amateur and professional-to easily upload their own exhibits and to be a part of the fastest growing community and collection of documentary work on the web," said Ruga.

Using Photography to Change the World
SocialDocumentary.net was founded in the tradition of Roy Emerson Stryker's New Deal photography project. Stryker, an economist within the Farm Security Administration in 1937, was tasked by the Roosevelt Administration with establishing a documentary photography section during the Depression. This public agency set out to commission photographers to document the plight of the unemployed across America in order to convince Congress that help was desperately needed. He also believed that Americans needed to see images of those living in conditions other than their own in order to take notice.  

 "The goal of SocialDocumentary.net is to connect and inform people around the world through photography and provide a visual record of the 21st century. It is designed to be a resource for teachers, students, policymakers, and consumers who are concerned and interested in learning about the world and changing it," said Ruga. "I wanted to create an online collection of quality photography exhibits that create a fresh way to look at the world and a greater understanding of humanity--whether struggling farmers in Darfur, suburban teenagers in Philadelphia, AIDS orphans in Mozambique, postwar Bosnia and Kosovo, or life in Siberia and Moscow," said Ruga.

SocialDocumentary.net provides easy-to-use tools for photographers to create quality online exhibits in five simple steps.

Technical Features

  • Images are uploaded at a large size that will nearly fill a standard high resolution browser, allowing web visitors to see more than they normally would on other image sharing sites.
  • Each exhibit has a unique size slider that enables visitors to adjust the size of the image simply by moving the slider.
  • All exhibits have a slide show feature and visitors can determine the duration of each image.
  • Each exhibit provides statistics on number of visitors and allows for viewer feedback and commentary.
  • Each exhibitor has his/her own home page with a unique URL, a photo and contact information and other biographical data.
  • The website limits the ability of web users to copy images.
  • Exhibits are linked to organizations working on the issues depicted in the photographs, allowing for continued advocacy and/ or action.
About the Founder:
Glenn Ruga, a full-time graphic designer, works in Lowell, MA and resides in Concord, MA. A part-time social documentarian and a lifelong human rights activist, Ruga has created traveling and online documentary exhibits on an immigrant community in Holyoke, MA, on the struggle for a multicultural future in Bosnia, and the war and aftermath in Kosovo. He is the owner and creative director of Visual Communications and the founder and President of Center for Balkan Development, a nonprofit organization created in 1993 to help stop the genocide in Bosnia and create a just and sustainable future in the former Yugoslavia. Glenn has a B.A. in Social Theory from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an MFA in Graphic and Advertising Design from Syracuse University. He also has a certificate in Interactive Communications from Massachusetts College of Art.

For more information and to view the photography exhibits, visit www.socialdocumentary.net