SDN Spotlight

SPOTLIGHT/Number 127, September 2013
Featuring exhibits submitted to SDN in August 2013

Dear SDN Readers: 


This month we are pleased to award the Featured Photographer of the Month to Sebastiano Tomada for his powerful essay on Life and Death in Aleppo. There is no issue gripping the world right now and more deserving the attention of SDN and our viewers than the civil war in Syria. The recent chemical attacks by Assad's forces that caused the death of 1,400 people, many civilians and children, and the high-wire diplomatic posturing only makes the issue more charged.


The photographs in Tomada's essay are powerful images that portray life and death of rebel soldiers and civilians in the besieged city of Aleppo suffering constant bombardment by government forces. Tomada is careful not to take sides in the conflict other than reporting from rebel territory and graphically depicting their plight. His position is factual, and he states on the SDN website in third person, "Sebastiano brings us the cruel reality of the men, women and children who continue to live in the besieged city of Aleppo. From the make-shift front lines to the lives of those who have lost their homes, this report poignantly documents the situations of the wounded, the difficulty of accessing health care and the precariousness of relief provision structures exposed to a war that has no end in sight."


As this issue of Spotlight goes to press, we are excited to announce our next Call for Entries, Using the Power of Photography to Promote Global Awareness. The deadline for entries is September 28. We are again partnering with Management Sciences for Health (MSH) to award two Grand Prizes, each a $4,000 photography fellowship to spend up to two weeks documenting the global health work of MSH. For complete information on all prizes and call for entry guidelines, visit 


Glenn Ruga 


SDN Featured Photographer of the Month    


Sebastiano Tomada

Photograph by Sebastiano Tomada. A young girl is medically treated for shrapnel wounds. Aleppo, Syria. September 29, 2012.


Life and Death in Aleppo   

Photographs by Sebastiano Tomada      

Photographer Sebastiano Tomada documents the lives of those who fight along the shifting front lines of a never ending urban war and those who struggle to live behind them. With a focus on daily life and the medical conditions of a city under siege, Sebastiano brings us the cruel reality of the men, women and children who continue to live in the war-torn city of Aleppo, Syria.

View the exhibit. 


Other Recently Added Exhibits

Claudia Wiens

Soap Opera Production in Syria     

Claudia Wiens

Jorge Sarmento


Jorge Sarmento

Amy Vanderford

Journey of the Heart

Amie Vanderford

Krzysztof Maniocha


Krzysztof Maniocha

Tony Wood

The Bad Lands of North Philadelphia

Tony Wood

Rui Pires

Mothers of Africa

Rui Pires

Marti Belcher

The Tattooed Women

Marti Belcher

Balarka Brahma

Spirit of Silence

Barlaka Brahma

Katie Lin

Running from Repression

Katie Lin

Antonio Correria

Urban Decay

Antonio Correia

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Women on the Edge 
Intimate Portraits of Courage and Dignity
Photographs by Mark Tuschman

Mark Tuschman

Photograph by Mark Tushman.

A portrait of a recipient of the WomensTrust scholarship.  


For the past decade, Mark Tuschman has been on a mission: to document the lack of autonomy that millions of women in developing countries have over their own lives and bodies, and the efforts being made to empower them. The photographs in this exhibit are part of a prospective book titled Women on the Edge: Intimate Portraits of Courage and Dignity.


View the exhibit.

The Common Man and Dying Trades
Italy and Lebanon
Photographs by Ron Nicolaysen   
Ron Nicolaysen

Photograph by Ron Nicolaysen. Tailor; Beirut, Lebanon.

This exhibit, with photographs from Lebanon and Italy, depicts dying trades, once handed down from father to son (parent to child). Trades that are now being swallowed up by large companies producing similar products at a lesser cost to the consumer, but sacrificing quality.

View the exhibit. 

Photographs by Suvra Kanti Das

Suvra Kanti Das

Photograph by Suvra Kanti Das. Bangladeshi garment worker Anna, 16, who worked on the 5th floor of Rana Plaza, poses for a portrait at Enam Medical College, in Savar, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. Anna had her right arm amputated to free her from the rubble when she was rescued nearly 48 hours after the building collapsed.


"Arati was stuck under the rubble of the collapsed garment factory in Dhaka for three days before being rescued. It was dark and full with dust, two other bodies were pressing on her right leg with a pillar on top. There was not a single inch to move; it was hot, difficult to breathe and not a single drop of water to drink. After 72 hours when she was pulled out from the rubble, the doctors realized that they needed to amputate her right leg to save her life. Her mother also worked in one of the garment industries that collapsed. Although Arati was rescued, her mother lost her life."


View the exhibit. 

Disabled Farming in Ghana
Defying the Odds  
Photographs by Keith Bratton 
Keith Bratton

Photograph by Keith Bratton. Joshua has had to learn to balance on his crutches when working in his garden. Elavanyo, Ghana.


In Ghana disabled people often become outcasts in their villages. Some of the factors leading to this fate can include villagers' lack of understanding about disabilities, families shunning their children who have a disability because of the perceived shame that it brings to the family, or the lack of opportunities for those living with a disability to adequately provide for themselves. Joshua has defied the odds.  


View the exhibit. 

Let Them Be
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Photographs by Elzbieta Jablonska  
Elzbieta Jablonska

Photograph by  Elzbieta Jablonska. Institute for Mentally Disabled Children and Adults in Bosnia and Herzegovina. All patients can exist well in "tight-knit community" if we only let them be who they are.

These photographs were taken at the Institute for Mentally Disabled Children and Adults in Bosnia and Herzegovina which houses approximately 400 patients. Thanks to the dedicated staff, the institute looks like a home for a very large family. A lot of activities-- and beautiful mountains surrounding this clinic-- make the patients happy. Mentally disabled people can exist well in the community. There is a full range of beautiful emotions and the place is full of care and love. Just let them BE who they are.  

View the exhibit. 

Photographs by Ohn Phanphiroj  
Ohn Phanphiroj

Photograph by Ohm Phanphiroj. Warin Mangsin; age, 14; hometown, Bangkok; reason for prostitution, money. 

Thailand has long been known as the sex capital of Asia. According to a 2004  survey, there are approximately 800,000 underage prostitutes in Thailand and the money being traded is $134 million, or 3% of Thai economy. Underage is a photographic documentation aimed at understanding the minds of these underage male prostitutes in a most candid and visceral way.

View the exhibit. 

Getting Clean: The story of ex-addicts
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Photographs by Danielle Shitrit  
Danielle Shitrit

Photograph by Danielle Shitrit. Tanya, a beautiful, healthy looking woman surprised me by telling me she was a drug addict and shared her brave story with me. She started taking drugs with a guy she met and disconnected from her environment; "Nobody wanted to do anything with me anymore".

"Three years of war destroyed people in the way of killing them, in the way of losing life. But this 18 years destroyed people in the way of losing purpose". These are the words of a 14 year old ex-addict who describes very accurately the entire situation of drugs abuse in Bosnia these days. The effects of the war are not only on the buildings filled with bullet holes or the pavements decorated by mortars attacks. The war's implications are also, and mostly, on the people themselves. Danielle's work focuses on ex-addicts -- people who went through a lot in their life and manage to pull themselves out of that world and start a new page in their lives.

View the exhibit. 

Ruthy Goes to Church
South Africa
Photographs by Julie Gunther  
Julia Gunther

Photograph by Julie Gunther. Ruthy goes to church.

'Ruthy Goes to Church' is a portrait of Ruth Jones, a resident of Manenberg, one of Cape Town's notorious areas where drug trafficking and gang-related crime are business as usual. Every Sunday the unbearable past and harsh reality fall from her shoulders when she dedicates herself to the church's marching band. This is the second installment of Julia Gunther's ongoing project 'Proud Women of Africa': a photographic record of women who live or work in Africa.  

View  the exhibit. 

Looking for the Promised Land
United States
Photographs by Virginia Allyn  
Virginia Allyn

Photograph by Virginia Allyn. Jamie looked at the landscape in this area of Camden and stated "There's nothing." Most people here don't have an education. In 2010 there was a plan announced to close all public libraries in Camden. No U.S. city this large had lost all its libraries before.

"Do you really want to hear what I have to say?" a resident of West Baltimore asked. What it is like to live without money and opportunity, trapped in cycles of poverty and welfare and living in blight on dangerous, violent streets? What do these streets look like? Through the lens of my camera I set about telling this story.

View  the exhibit.

SDN News
SDN Call for Entries Deadline:
September 28
Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of industry professionals.
  • Shahidal Alam, Founder, Drik Photo Agency, Bangladesh
  • Barbara Ayotte, Director of Strategic Communications, Management Sciences for Health, Cambridge
  • Dimitri Beck, Editor-in-Chief, Polka Magazine, Paris
  • Manoocher Deghati, AP Middle East Regional Photo Editor, Cairo
  • Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel, Director, Anastasia Photo, New York
  • Glenn Ruga, Founder and Director,, Boston
  • Two Grand Prizes: MSH Photography Fellowship: Two winners will each receive a Photography Fellowship with Management Sciences for Health (MSH). $4,000 honorarium and up to two weeks of expense-paid travel in one to two of the countries in which MSH works. Travel will occur between December 2013 and June 2014. (See below for further details on the MSH Photography Fellowship.)
  • SDN Documentary Prize: $1,000 cash award
  • 2-3 Honorable Mentions
All winning entries will participate in an exhibition at powerHouse Arena, Brooklyn, NY, from February 27 through March 23, 2014. There will also be a web-based component to the exhibition. SDN and MSH will pay all printing and preparation costs for the exhibition.


>>Click here for more information and application instructions. 

SDN on Instagram 
instagram is now on Instagram as yet another way to give visibility to the great documentary work of photographers on the website. Follow us at @socialdocumentarynet.

SDN Publishes SpecialIssue #2 
Climate Change: Our Uncertain Future
Featuring Ed Kashi and Bill McKibben

Climate Change 
Photograph by Ed Kashi. The Atlantic Ocean is seen in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in Atlantic City, N.J., Oct. 30, 2012. The super storm ravaged the East Coast, leaving many dead and billions of dollars in damage. (SDN) is pleased to announce the release of the second edition of SDN/Special Issue, Climate Change: Our Uncertain Future. This is the second in our series bringing greater context to issues explored by photographers whose work appears on SDN. Our first Special Issue on  Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health in Africa was published earlier this year in March.

Climate Change: Our Uncertain Future, is edited by Caterina Clerici and features Ed Kashi, Bill McKibben and other leading photographers and scientists working on the issue of climate change.    


Benefit for the Rockaway Shore Soup Project 
Wednesday, October 23, 2013

7:00 pm, The Bowery Hotel, 335 Broadway, NY
Pay as you can, $85 minimum donation in advance. 

Shore Soup The Rockaway Rescue Alliance's Shore Soup Project a community-based not for profit organization that formed in response to Hurricane Sandy. The Shore Soup Project served more than 50,000 free meals to homebound, displaced, and financially struggling residents of the Rockaway peninsula following the devastating superstorm. This past summer, the Project rolled out an innovative pay-as-you-can, relief food truck. Now, Shore Soup Project is organizing a benefit coinciding with the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, to raise funds to build a permanent brick-and-mortar relief restaurant, SHORE. The restaurant will serve as an anchor for the Rockaway community as it continues to recover and will provide the residents access to healthy food, as well as nutrition workshops, a community garden, and mentorship and employment opportunities. 


Photography and the Struggle for a Better World 
Featuring Michelle Bogre, Ron Haviv,
Ed Kashi, Glenn Ruga, & Amy Yenkin 

Friday, October 25, 1:30 pm 
PDN PhotoPlus Expo, Jacob Javits Center, NY 
Some photographers go out into the world to record in and others set out to change it. Since the founding of photography in 1839, there has been a rich tradition of talented photographers with a burning desire to do both. Matthew Brady, Roger Fenton, Robert Capa, W. Eugene Smith and more recently Jonathan Togorvnik, Sebastiao Salgado, Donna Ferrato and Lynsey Addario are just some of the luminaries of photojournalism and documentary photography who have changed our perception of the world, and therefore the world itself.  

The presenters on this panel discussion will each talk about how socially conscious photographers are embracing the challenges of new technologies and a new economy to continue to inform the public about injustice and, in many cases, using this awareness to change the world.

International Photographer John Sevigny Brings Central America Images to Minneapolis  
"Happyland" exhibition opens with a reception at 6:30 pm, Friday, Sept. 13, Minneapolis Photography Center

John Sevigny  
Photographer and SDN Advisor John Sevigny spent three months documenting the decadence and decay of bars, markets and gang hangouts in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. Those images will be on display starting Friday at the Mpls Photography Center, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The photographs were taken in 2012 in the three Central American nations, which were all torn apart by US-funded proxy wars during the 1980s. The images were inspired, in part, by the French Nabi painters' use of color.

The Aftermath Project 2014 Grant Cycle is Now Open   
Submissions for the upcoming grant cycle for The Aftermath Project are now open. Thanks once again to the generous support of the Foundation to Promote Open Society, The Aftermath Project will be offering one $20,000 grant in 2014, and naming four finalists.
The deadline for applications to be submitted is November 11, 2013. For the first time the submission process will be online, via a recently re-launched website

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.