SPOTLIGHT/December 23, 2012

Dear Spotlight Readers:


This is the 119th issue of Spotlight. Normally we feature new work submitted to the site since the last issue. The next few issues will take a departure from this schedule as we have received nearly 250 entries to the Photography Fellowship in Africa -- many of which are worthy to be featured. We cannot possibly highlight all of them in one issue; therefore over the next few months we will continue to feature the best of this work along with new work submitted to the site.


Stay tuned for the end of the year when we release our Highlights of 2012 (you can still submit work to qualify for this honor) and on January 7 we will be announcing the winners of the Photography Fellowship in Africa.  


It seems that an issue of Spotlight does not go by without an event of major global significance landing on our doorstep and challenging the photography community to respond in meaningful and sensitive ways. This time it is the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut where a lone gunman killed 20 children, 6 adults, himself and his mother. The horror and tragedy of this event has shaken the world with disbelief and has been documented in every major media outlet, as it should be. Following the initial grief and mourning, there is now a national call for stricter gun control laws and more resources for mental health counseling and awareness. The lone outlier in this discussion is the NRA which has called for stationing armed guards in every school in the nation and blamed the problem on the media and video games. Never has such a major national policy organization been so tone deaf to the direction of debate in this country. SDN encourages this ongoing debate on gun policy in America and challenges the documentary community to use their skills to bringing informed awareness to this issue.   


On that note, all of us at SDN would like to wish everyone a very happy holiday and new year!


Best regards, 


Glenn Ruga
SDN Founder and Director     



Featured Exhibits   


XingKai OuYang

Photograph by XingKai OuYang. Li Fengying (left) became a child bride (raised by her future husband's family) when she was 12. In 1944, in order to escape the War she fled from Shaodong to Hong Jiang. 


Ancient commercial city Hong Jiang         

Photographs by XingKai OuYang      

Hong Jiang is a town with an important historical legacy, and its people are a solemn and dignified group. This old town has been very well preserved, rich in content, and looks like "Qingming Shanghe Tu," a hand scroll painting, directly portraying a panoramic view of the lives of all levels of society, of the periods of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and the Republic of China. Experts name it "a living fossil of the emergence of capitalism in China inland."    


View the exhibit.  

Other Recently Added Exhibits


White Elephants - Pass by Me 

Piotr Zbierski
A long-term personal project, made from 2009 to 2012, concentrates on the single faces, gestures, pantomime of feelings and relations.

Tariq Tarey

Dadaab, the Somali Struggle to Flee Violence

Tariq Tarey
The UNHCR has declared the Dadaab Refugee Camp Somalia to be the largest refugee camp in the world.

Isabell Zipfel

OderLand. InbetweenLand

Isabell Zipfel
The OderLand lies on the border with Poland. It's chilly, it's bleak and gloomy. It's the most easterly part of East Germany and is scarred by economic recession, unemployment and depopulation.

Flynn Warren

Our Own Future - Social Enterprise Stories

Flynn Warren
The aim of this project is to assess and disseminate the influence of social entrepreneurship and governance in Kenya, accomplished through interviews and photography.

David Colwell

Public Health and Malaria in Africa

David Colwell
This is a partial collection of images documenting the efforts of US-based institutions to study, treat and prevent the spread of malaria

Candace Feit

Tuareg Rebellion, Norhtern Niger

Candace Feit
These images document the timeless yet changing way of life of the Tuareg people, whose nomadic livelihoods have been threatened by climate change, globalization, migration and mining.


Cambodian Children at Risk

Arantxa Cedillo
Presents children at risk without showing their faces or any other feature that could lead to their identification.


Fukushima "No-Go Zone"

Pierpaolo Mittica
Despite the massive nuclear contamination, life still goes on inside the "No-Go Zone".
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The Truth Told Project
Democratic Republic of Congo
Photographs by Sarah Fretwell   

Photograph by Sarah Fretwell. One of more than 6,000 working prostitutes in Butembo, a city of 800,000. This woman has been working as a prostitute for several years. Her husband died in the war. Without a husband, no education, and mouths to feed, working as a prostitute is her only option to make money.


The Truth Told Project was born in December 2010 in the war-torn mineral rich region of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Exploring the lives of previously unheard-from girls, women, and men, the purpose of this story is to shed light on the lives of those most impacted by this ongoing conflict and the immense prospect the land and people hold for the future.

View the exhibit. 

Hurricane Sandy, The 100 Year Storm

New York
Photographs by Ruddy Roye


Photograph by Ruddy Roye. The Madonna stands resolute.   


New York has seen a few storms but none with the power and devastation like Hurricane Sandy. When it was over, more than 113 people were dead, 23 of them on Staten Island. The whole of Staten Island's Eastern Shore was severely damaged, but hardest-hit was Midland Beach, a low-lying community of townhouses. Approximately 40,000 people were made homeless before that terrible night was over. For them and countless others, life will never be the same again.


View the exhibit. 

Struggling to Thrive: Health and Wellness in the Congo  
Democratic Republic of Congo
Photographs by Anne Bailey


Photograph by Anne Bailey. After every delivery, nurses begin the process of cleaning and sterilizing the delivery room as best as they can with limited water and cleaning products.


For decades, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been shattered by civil war. North Kivu province, in particular, continues to feel the effects of years of conflict and instability. Unemployment is rampant, access to quality healthcare is limited and security is tenuous at best. In the face of these challenges, the majority of Congolese people struggle to thrive.


View the exhibit. 

Reproductive Health Rights
Kenya and DRC
Photographs by Jessica Scranton


Photograph by Jessica Scranton. A woman holds her child in Kangroo position that keeps the child warm and protected. Bukavu, DRC


These images depict the amazing strides that are being made to positively change reproductive health access in conflict situations, such as better mosquito netting, training for health providers, greater medical access for women and cleaner facilities.

View the exhibit. 

Women's issues and health in Malawi
Photographs by Alfredo Caliz 


Photograph by Alfredo Caliz. Patriak Rita, 12 years. Read Lipongwe School. Through a scholarship program he is persuaded to continue his studies after his parents died.


These photos, made in Malawi, reflect the different projects run by the NGO Action Aid, all of which relate to women's issues like education, HIV, or sexuality. Social workers are heavily involved in the problems of their communities.


View the exhibit. 

Ghosts - Albinism in Tanzania
Photographs by Jackie Dewe Mathews 


Photograph by Jackie Dewe Mathews. Mwazani Ibrahim (19yrs) already has very badly damaged skin. People with albinism have no pigmentation in their skin so are unprotected from the sun's UV rays. Unless they are very careful, skin cancer is an inevitability. Prefering to fit in with her black skinned friends she doesn't like covering up, as its not culturally normal for women in Tanzania to wear hats or long sleeves.  


Albinism is a genetic condition causing a lack of melanin in the skin, eyes and hair. It is estimated to affect one in 3,000 people in Tanzania - seven times as many as in the West. Unlike those in the West who lead relatively normal lives, people with albinism in Tanzania face a life of prejudice and illness.   


View the exhibit. 

Maternal Mortality: Fight for Life
Sierra Leone
Photographs by Jean Chung 


Photograph by Jean Chung. Women weep as they sit around the dead body of Qamar, center, a 26-year-old tuberculosis patient who died of postpartum complications two weeks after the delivery, in their house.  


Each year, about 529,000 women die giving birth. In Sierra Leone, one woman out of eight has chance of dying in childbirth during their lifetime.  


View the exhibit. 

Waiting for an Opportunity
Sierra Leone
Photographs by Fernando Moreles 


Photograph by Fernando Moreles. Juveniles in Prison, Sierra Leone. Pademba Road prison, Feb. 2010. None of these children received legal assistance at his trial, nor received any family visits.  


Minors held in the maximum-security prison of Pademba in Freetown, Sierra Leone, spend years awaiting trial living in terrible conditions. The juveniles are released after long periods without rehabilitation, and the lack of opportunities is directly related with recidivism rates.  


View the exhibit. 

Birth is a Dream - Maternity in Africa
Photographs by Paolo Patruno 


Photograph by Paolo Patruno. A young girl with her first newborn, sitting on her grandmother's bed.  


Every year in Africa, more than 200,000 mothers die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth; every year 1.5 million African children are left without a mother. A great many of these deaths are preventable, when women have access to quality prevention, diagnostic, and treatment services; most maternal death and morbidity can be prevented when pregnancy and childbirth are attended by skilled health professionals.   


View the exhibit. 

SDN NewsOSI Documentary Project Announces 2012 Audience Engagement Grant Winners


Emily Schiffer

Prototype rendering for Emily Schiffer's See Potential project. These banners feature documentary images by Jack Bridges, Jon Lowenstein, Carlos Javier Ortiz, and Joseph Rodriguez and promote a community center at this site. (Graphic design by Alicia Lange) Photo credit: Orrin Williams 


The OSI Audience Engagement Grant supports projects that move people beyond the act of looking and provide ways for audiences to take a more direct role in making change happen. Some projects adopt a collaborative approach to the image-making process and actively involve viewers in deciding how images that represent their community are created, distributed, and utilized. We see these projects as a form of community organizing, where change happens from the ground up. Other projects and photographers have targeted high-level decision makers and take the images to the places where those in power are likely to see the photos. Whether pressuring governments or corporations, these projects are intended to compel decision-makers to positively act on the problems documented in the photographs.  


This year's grant winners are:
  • Robin Bowman. "The American Teenager Project" (Richmond, California)
  • Jon Lowenstein. "Escondido en Escondido" (Escondido, California)
  • Joseph Rodriquez. "Re-entry Stories" (Richmond and San Jose, California)
  • Emily Schiffer. "See Potential" (Chicago, Illinois)
Click here to view detailed information on each project.

Stanley Greene wins the 2013 Aftermath Project Grants


Stanley Greene Photograph by Stanley Greene. Zelina, Downtown Grozny, Chechnya, 2001, from "Open Wound."

2013 Grant Winner

Stanley Greene (USA) "The Rise of Islam in the Caucasus." Greene, best known for his work as a conflict photographer, is a member of the Noor Images photography collective, who knows the Caucasus region well.

2013 Finalists (in alphabetical order)

Gwenn Dubourthoumieu (France) - "Raped Lives," an ongoing project about sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which explores the spread of rape by civilian perpetrators, as a consequence of a conflict infamous for the use of rape as a weapon of war. Dubourthoumieu's proposal stood out for its exploration of the spread of sexual violence by civilians, a direct aftermath of several years of war. Her pictures move beyond mere portraits of victims to include local judicial proceedings in which perpetrators are rarely punished and women who have been raped continue to struggle against the double penalty of stigmatization and injustice in a society dismantled by war.

Boryana Katsarova (Bulgaria) - "Kosovo: The Last Balkan Storm," a project about post-conflict Kosovo, concentrating on the divided city of Kosovska Mitrovia. Katsarova was a teenager when the war started and made one of her first pictures of a KFOR tank rolling across the countryside. Her project asks the question: "Could the cultural, ethnical and religious differences between two communities be actually their human strength, a path to common peaceful future and not their weakness, which will lead them to repetition of the near past?"

Isabel Kiesewetter (Germany) - "Conversion," an innovative ongoing project that investigates the contemporary use of former military bases in East and West Germany, and the challenges and costs of converting those bases to civilian use.

Martino Lombezzi (Italy) - "Blue Line," an ongoing project about the border between Lebanon and Israel. Working on both sides of the electrified fence that separates the two countries, Lombezzi explores the impact of the fence on people who live in the area -- and also how the memory of decades of conflict "contributes to the formation and perpetration of opposed, conflicting identities." 

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.