Spot Light

SPOTLIGHT/Number 134, March 2014
Work submitted to SDN in February 2014

Dear SDN Readers: 


This past month has been a goldmine for photography and global awareness. The events unfolding daily in Ukraine, beginning with the protests on the Maidan in Kiev, through the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, and now the succession movement in Crimea backed by Russia have each gripped the world's attention. Taken together, these events are becoming a watershed moment in history. No one knows where they will lead but with the specter of an all-out civil war in Ukraine, backed by Russia on the east and the EU and the US on the west, the world watches in anticipation as all sides continue to posture.

Sergey Ponomarev 1
Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times. Barricades at Independence Square in Kiev.


Photographically, the last month has produced some of the most dramatic news photos in years. Sergey Ponomarev of the New York Times has documented with astoundingly dramatic and sensitive images the most significant events from Kiev and now Crimea. While the era of individual iconic images representing an historical milestone may be behind us, Ponomarev's images will become part of the historical memory of this moment for sure.


SDN published a special newsletter last week focusing on SDN exhibits from Ukraine, leading off with the recent work by Arthur Bondar from Kiev during the Euromaidan protests. We encourage other photographers working in Ukraine to submit their work to SDN.


This month's featured photographer is Markus Drayss for his lyrical black and white photographs in Israel and Palestine. With one of the world's most enduring conflicts in the background, Drayss brings us images of people living their lives like they do anywhere in the world-with joy and sorrow; hopes and disappointments; working and playing. A reminder that separated by the curtain of history are people performing very human things the world over; some actors, some directors, some producers, and on the other side of the curtain, many are in the audience watching-many passively, some not so.


Glenn Ruga
Founder and Director  


PS. SDN has just announced our next call for entries on "Narrative Documentary: Still & in Motion". Deadline for submissions is April 18. 

March 2014 Featured Photographer of the Month       


Markus Drayss  
Israel and Palestine     

Marcus Drayss
Photograph by Markus Drayss. The ultra-orthodox quarter Mea Shearim in Jerusalem on a Friday. People do their shopping before Shabbat.  

Israel and the Palestinian territories cover a rather small region in the Middle East. The peoples that live in this region, however, could not be more divided in terms of politics, culture, religion, ethnicity, or any combination of these factors.

Sometimes it takes no more than a five-minute walk from one world to another: you leave a street art-covered secular area of Jerusalem, and enter the orthodox Jewish world of Mea Shearim; you leave the narrow streets of the souk in Nablus, and enter the maze of the Balata refugee camp.

As a photographer, I felt strangely privileged that I could freely travel around these different worlds, while the people who inhabit them are kept apart  -- often physical (with borders and checkpoints), and often only in their minds.

View exhibit >>

Markus Drayss

Markus Drayss  

Markus Drayss is a German-born photographer and visual effects artist living in London. He divides his time between film and photography, the latter being mainly personal projects. His photographic interest lies in capturing people in their environments, doing this with his own distinct visual style and narrative.

Much of his recent work is focused on travel and documentary photography, covering Somaliland, Ethiopia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and other locations.





Other Featured Exhibits Submitted to SDN in February 2014  

Coughing Up Coal>>
by Sarah Stirk/India

India's Coal Inferno/ India ranks third in the world in the production of carbon dioxide and is burning more coal than ever before, with 66% of its power generated by coal fired thermal power plants, and future plans are for massive expansion. But as India pursues its aggressive path of coal-powered...

by Adrián Morillo Gonzalez/Spain

Jondo is a photographic work based on the search of the sentiment "jondo" within contemporary Calé communities inheriting the flamenco practice. Jondo is a word that refers to a dark and broken singing, common in pioneer flamenco singers. This kind of singing narrates the sorrows...

Portrait of the Maasai>>
by Roberto Falck/Tanzania

The Maasai are semi-nomadic people inhabiting Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are among the best known local populations due to their residence near the many game parks of Southeast Africa, and their distinctive customs and dress.    

In the name of Jesus>>
by Krzysztof Maniocha/Ghana

How do you praise your God? How do you pray to Him? Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Ghanaians believe. Posters and billboards advertising conventions, new churches, miracle prayers, religious matters of all sorts are spread all around Ghana. Pastors of every Christian denomination proclaim the Word...

Maine Lobstermen>>
by Paul Grossmann/United States

Stonington is the largest lobster port in Maine. With roughly 1100 residents and about 350 boats operating, 85% of the economy is based on lobster fishing. A high population of lobster is driving down the price of off-the-boat lobster. A pound of lobster sold for an average of $4.63 nine years ago, ...

Pottery Artist>>
by Ferdous Tasni/Bangladesh

The folk art of pottery in Bangladesh tell stories of village life, of happiness, of family life and the life of the hard working people of Bangladesh. As for Dhamrai, it is the holy grail for the ancient "almost lost" art of pottery...

Adaptation to climate change and social resilience in the Sahel>>
by Axel Ducourneau/Senegal

The Sahel is one of the most exposed regions to climate change. Human populations need to cope and to adapt with the climatic as well as geopolitical threats that endangered their semi-nomadic way of life.

Migration Stories>>
by Leona Strassberg Steiner/United States

Migration Stories is a collaboration between myself, a recent NJCU graduate in photography, and Catherine Raissiguier, an NJCU professor of Women's and Gender Studies. During the fall of 2013, faculty members and students came together to narrate their lives, hopes and ...

Medical Clinic Volunteer Work in Cap-Haitien Area, Haiti>>
by Wayne Chinnock/Haiti

Finding proper medical care in rural Haiti is very difficult, being able to afford it is nearly impossible for most Haitians. These circumstances combined with widespread ignorance relating to breastfeeding, proper cleaning and nutrition have made Haiti one of the most desperate countries in the world...

Personal Space>>
by Karen Rangeley/United Kingdom

Personal space is a documentary project that originated with a visit to a textile-finishing factory in Summer 2013, as part of a wider project to promote the wool industry in northern England.  Following a series of visits to one particular factory, Karen began to explore the relationship between...

Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas. Juan Aldama's Campus.>>
by Omar Espinosa/Mexico

In many communities of Zacatecas, violence, lack of proper education, poverty and hunger are some of the most alarming experiences that we hear from in the testimonies of the youngsters. We can learn a lot from the frequently unseen young adults that are used to walking, to travel kilometers...

by Sheila McLaughlin/United States

I was 18 in 1972 when my parents died. Left alone I remained living in my family home surrounded by their clothing, furniture, letters, and religious icons -- the objects of their lives. Decades after they died I visited my mother's homestead in Ireland. I decided to stay and photograph...

by Paul Giguere/El Salvador

Teosinte, El Salvador, was decimated during El Salvador's civil war which lasted from 1980 to 1992. The United States supported the war by arming, funding and training the Salvadoran military, to combat what they perceived as a Communist threat. Most of the people who now live in Teosinte...

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Upload your documentary exhibits and let thousands of photographers, editors, curators, gallerists, students, and the general public learn about you and your projects.

Each month, SDN selects a featured photographer to highlight in Spotlight. April 2014 will be the last month we will be able to offer a $200 award due to a grant running out.

Advisory Committee
Kristen Bernard
Lori Grinker
Steve Horn
Ed Kashi
John Sevigny
Jeffrey D. Smith
Steve Walker
Frank Ward
Jamie Wellford

Glenn Ruga
Founder & Director

Barbara Ayotte
Communications Director

Caterina Clerici
Special Issue Editor
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SDN News

SDN Call for Entries   
Narrative Documentary: Still & in Motion
Deadline for Submissions: April 18, 2014


While millions of photographs are taken daily and posted to Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, and other image sharing services, only a small fraction tell a narrative story and a smaller number would be considered documentary. For this call for entries, SDN is seeking submissions that create a coherent documentary narrative, first with the images and then providing necessary context with text and optionally, sound and motion. All themes, subject matter, and formats are encouraged.    


This is the first SDN call for entries where multimedia submissions will be eligible.

First Place winner to receive:

  • Featured in inaugural issue of SDN Annual, with 8-10 pages devoted to the grand prize winner. The Annual will be mailed free to leading editors, publishers, photo buyers, and galleries, and available for purchase. Winner to receive 10 complimentary copies.
  • Featured in email Spotlight sent to SDN's 7,000 followers.
  • Featured on SDN's home page.
  • Featured on SDN social media.
  • Receive a one year subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud.  
  • A $250 gift certificate to Digital Silver Imaging, one of New England's leading digital labs and one of the few labs in the US to offering digital silver gelatin printing. For more information, see:
  • Receive a signed copy of Afghan Warrior, a DVD video documentary about Reza, a famed National Geographic photographer (and SDN advisor), and his journeys to Afghanistan to seek a portrait of a nation. 
More information >>

Using the Power of Photography to Promote Global Awareness
February 27-March 20, 2014
powerHouse Arena
37 Main Street, Brooklyn, NY

Sheri Fink
Opening reception, February 27. Photograph by Matthew Lomanno.

SDN will be exhibiting the work of the five winners of its last Call for Entries on Global Awareness.
First Place Winners: Gwenn Dubourthoumieu & Mark Tuschman
SDN Documentary Prize: Fausto Podavini
Honorable Mentions: Carol Allen Storey and Suvra Kanti Das

View photographs on the exhibition and
panel discussion on Photography and Global Health >>

More information >>

Exhibition Sponsors:

Digital Silver Imaging

MPS Fund Accepting Applications for $5,000 Grant 

The New Orleans Photo Alliance (NOPA) will begin accepting applications for the Michael P. Smith Fund for Documentary Photography. This fund, established by NOPA to honor the legendary New Orleans photographer Michael P. Smith, awards one $5,000 grant annually to a Gulf Coast photographer whose work combines artistic excellence and a sustained commitment to a long-term cultural documentary project. We are proud to announce our 2014 juror, Michael Famighetti, the editor of Aperture magazine.

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.