SPOTLIGHT/November 6, 2011  


Dear SDN Community:


Three years ago this fall we launched SDN at the PDN Expo in New York with eight live exhibits -- most of them either by me or my friends. Today there are currently 358 live exhibits on the site and a total of 720 exhibits that have been exhibited. The work comes from every corner of the world, from both accomplished professional photographers to the most amateur. All the work exists because someone has a story that they believe needs to be told and has taken a portfolio of well-conceived and executed photographs. The common thread is a belief that photography is a powerful means to give insight into the global human condition. Today the exhibits run the gamut from the subtle, such as an exhibit by Aditya Swami on how communities along East Anglia's in England coast are adapting to the threats posed by coastal erosion, to the topical, such as the Occupy Boston movement by photographer Scott Brauer. Other exhibits explore issues related to war and peace, the environmental, gender, age, disability, the economy, housing, global health, globalization, development, and numerous other issues that cannot be easily categorized.

In the three years that we started, we have also had two calls for entries, both with exhibitions in New York. Our first exhibit on the global recession has since traveled to Boston, Chicago, and Portland, Maine.

I would like to thank everyone who has participated in SDN during the past three years--photographers, viewers, the Advisory Committee, judges, sponsors, interns, and volunteers--and look forward to continuing to work with this expanding community into the future.

Warmest regards to everyone. 

Glenn Ruga 

Founder and Director


Other Recently Added Exhibits

Hungry as the Sea

Aditya Swami
This project explores how communities along East Anglia's coast are adapting to the present and future threats posed by coastal erosion within the context of a changing global climate and potential rise in sea levels.

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street

Eric Anderson
Photographs taken at the Occupy Wall Street site in New York City. By early November the broad range of activists had been camped for nearly 47 days.


Stephen Speranza
Travelling with the Foundation For Peace to Haiti last July, Speranza highlights the refugees who had been displaced from Port-au-Prince.


Andrea Mellen
A continuation of the Special Siblings project features Molly and her siblings.

Forget they exist, "Present in the Absence"

Vinoth Vijayaragavan
In India, these children of the earth are without shelter.

Manifestacion de los estudiantes

Eric Verdaasdonk
Students in Santiago de Chile are fighting for their right to have free access to education.

Faces of Bougainville Island

Timothy Ashton
A portrait of a people who have fought and suffered against the government of Papau New Guinea. 

Smiles of Bangladesh

Jan Møller Hansen
Bangladesh is the Land of Smiles. Here is a small selection of smiles by people in Dhaka and other cities.
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Featured Exhibits

Occupy Boston

Photographs by M. Scott Brauer

Photograph by M. Scott Brauer. Members of National Nurses United join the OccupyBoston demonstration in Dewey Square in the Financial District of downtown Boston, Massachusetts, USA..


For weeks, demonstrators have camped in Dewey Square in the Financial District in downtown Boston, Massachusetts, USA.  The protests have been mostly peaceful with a variety of chants and marches aimed at raising issues related to the distribution of wealth, jobs, and other broad economic topics. On Oct. 11, police forcibly removed protesters from a secondary camp, making 141 arrests. Protesters have vowed to stay indefinitely.


View the exhibit.  

Chernobyl Aftermath 

Photographs by Petr Toman

Photograph by Petr Toman. Tatiana lives in Ivankiv and suffers from blood problems as a result of exposure to radiation.


Over 10 years, 600,000-800,000 clean-up workers throughout the former Soviet Union were involved in liquidating the aftermath of the explosion of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant's Reactor 4. Although it occurred 25 years ago, the event is still considered the largest technological disaster in the history of our world.


View the exhibit.  

The "Freedom" Group: Female Sex Workers in Cochabamba, Bolivia

Photographs by Matteo Bertolino













Photograph by Matteo Bertolino. Blanca and a client. May 2011.  


The invisibilibilty and ignorance concerning female sex workers' lives and working conditions is directly linked to prejudices, stigma, discrimination, stereotypes, marginalisation, violence, precariousness, and a lack of proper legal mechanisms (human rights, women's rights, labour rights, etc.). This work documents, in particular, a specific group of female sex workers who in the 1990s formed the group called "Freedom."   


View the exhibit.  

Born in Flames: The Toodyay Bushfire 

Photographs by John Toohey












Photograph by John Toohey.  


In December 2009, a bushfire in Toodyay, Australia, destroyed 34 homes and razed several thousand hectares of bush and farmland. The state government declared the area a natural disaster.  In August 2011, the land was already regenerating and transformed, demonstrating the recuperative powers of nature.


View the exhibit.  

Salema: A Street Maker from Bangladesh 

Photographs by Sakia Rafique












Photograph by Sakia Rafique.  


This series examines a middle-aged woman named Salema who earns $6.60 per day.


View the exhibit.  

SDN News

Moving Walls 19 Opening Reception        

November 30, 2011
OSI-New York
400 West 59th Street, New York, NY
5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
RSVP to this event. 
Pete Muller

© Pete Muller. Battling Impunity: The Fight Against Mass Rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


The Open Society Documentary Photography Project is hosting an opening reception for Moving Walls 19, featuring the following seven bodies of work:

Bharat Choudhary: The Silence of "Others"
Greg Constantine: Kenya's Nubians: Then & Now, with contributions courtesy the Kenya Nubian Council of Elders
Rena Effendi: Oil Village
Wyatt Gallery: Tent Life: Haiti
James Mackay: Even Though I'm Free, I Am Not
Pete Muller: Battling Impunity: The Fight Against Mass Rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo
John Willis: Views of the Reservation, with drawings by Dwayne Wilcox and contributions by the Lakota people

Since its inception in 1998, Moving Walls has featured over 150 photographers whose works address a variety of social justice and human rights issues that coincide with the Open Society Foundations mission.

Click for more information and to RSVP. 


British Journal of Photography International Photography Awards on View at Foto8    

November 22-28
Foto8 - London
1-5 Honduras Street


Chloe Dewe Mathews

Two sisters run down to the underground mosque in Beket-Ata. They have come on a pilgrimage with their family from Aktau, to pray for the recovery of their uncle. Beket-Ata Necopolis, Kazakhstan. Image © Chloe Dewe Mathews/Panos Pictures.

Chloe Dewe Mathews, a Panos Pictures photographer, has won this year's International Photography Award, run by British Journal of Photography, for her series Caspian. Caspian is a documentary project shot in the sanatorium town of Naftalan, where people "gather to bathe in chocolate-brown oil, purported to have therapeutic properties," says the Panos Pictures photographer. "It was startling to see a substance normally associated with industry, politics, power and wealth, being used for health and relaxation. This 'miracle oil' has been bathed in for centuries."  Read more.>> 

About 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.  


Spotlight editor: Matthew Lomanno