Spot Light

SPOTLIGHT/Number 135, April 2014
Work submitted to SDN in March 2014

Dear SDN Readers: 


I recently returned from spending a week reviewing portfolios in Houston at FotoFest, the largest photo review event in the world. The quality of work and the commitment of the photographers was inspiring! Most of the photographers would not consider their work documentary but almost all of the work addressed interesting and important themes, often in nontraditional ways.


But what I did find is that many of the photographers, curators, and editors whom I spoke with assumed that SDN is all about crisis and tragedy. This is not only true at FotoFest, but I also find this the case at other conferences, festivals, and with personal conversations. I would like to begin correcting that misconception now since it has never been our mission but it has come to identify SDN.


I would like to encourage the SDN community to understand that our interest is in the diversity, beauty, and complexity of the global human condition. Sometimes this can be tragic, especially for the 90% of the world that does not have access to the resources of the developed world. But there is also beauty in that 90% that is important to recognize and honor. Some of my favorite exhibits on SDN are often about the transition from traditional to modern ways of life such as these beautiful photographs of HongJiang in China by XingKai OuYang or the photographs of Moroccan Berberes by Portuguese photographer Rui Peres.  

SDN will always be interested in the more challenging issues of conflict, global health, climate change, resources, trafficking, and the issues that sculpt the contours of history. The overriding concern is that the work submitted to SDN is based in unmanipulated photos representative of the physical world and telling a story about an issue or theme that concerns us as a members of a global community. Keep the work coming and we will do our part to provide exposure to this work to other photographers, editors, curators, art directors, journalists, others in the media and photo industry, and the general public.


This month's featured photographer is Dario De Dominicis for his extraordinary black and white photos titled "The Favela Hill" about Providencia, the oldest favela in Rio and in Brazil. Dario explores in dramatic tones both the simplicity of daily life and the complexity of struggle for thousands of people as their community is challenged by a government clearing out the "slums" for the upcoming World Cup games this summer and the Olympics in 2016.


Glenn Ruga
Founder and Director  


PS. Don't miss our current call for entries on "Narrative Documentary: Still & in Motion". Deadline for submissions is April 18. 

April 2014 Featured Photographer of the Month       


Dario De Dominicis  
The Favela Hill      

Dario de Dominicis
Photograph by Dario De Dominicis. The authorities declared the "relocations" to be in the interest of residents because they live in "risky areas" where landslides might occur and because "de-densification" is required to improve quality of life. But there is little evidence of landslide risk or dangerous overcrowding; 98% of ProvidÍncia's homes are made of sturdy brick and concrete. 
Situated in the middle of the economic center and in the heart of the Docklands, the Providencia hill is the oldest favela of Rio and all of Brazil. Now, while the city is redoing its make-up in preparation for the next World Cup and the Olympic games, the future of this community is seriously at risk. In the last two years, looking to revitalize the whole harbor area, the Council has started various huge projects and the Providencia is right in the middle. The plans involve the removal of nearly a third of the houses of the community. Many residents have reported fundamental legal rights violations.

View exhibit >>

Dario De Domenicis

Dario De Dominicis   

Dario De Dominicis began working as a professional photographer in 1993, collaborating with a photojournalistic agency in Rome. His work is published in several Italian and international newspapers (Espresso, Internazionale, Newsweek, Le Monde, Sunday Times, El Pais, Der Spiegel, etc). In 1999, he was commissioned for a reportage in black and white about life inside the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary. The photos were published in a book by the Vicariate of Rome during the Jubilee of 2000. In 2001, he completed a project that lasted four years on the monarchist movement in Italy. The work, distributed by Contrasto agency, was published inside the weekly insert "Io Donna" of the Corriere della Sera. Since 2003, he has increasingly turned his attention to personal research and projects. From 2002 to 2009, he has taught photojournalism at the Roberto Rossellini State Institute for Cinema and Television in Rome. Since 1994, he has been travelling in Cuba following the transformation of the country after the fall of the socialist block in Europe. Summarizing this photographic project, in 2004, he published the book Una Historia Cubana published by Postcart. From 2009 he has been based in Rio de Janeiro and in 2013 he held a workshop entitled "Vision without Frontiers" during the International Festival of Photography "Paraty em Foco".


Other Featured Exhibits Submitted to SDN in March, 2014  

Liberian Schools in Black and White>>
by B. D. Colen/Liberia

Liberia, the West African nation founded in 1847 by American freemen and freed slaves, was torn apart by more than a decade of some of the most savage civil wars of the 20th and early 21st century. Ten years after the conflicts ended, the nation still has an unemployment rate as high as 85 percent...

The Afars: The Forgotten People>>
by Harry Benhaiem/Ethiopia

In the heart of the horn of Africa live the Afar people. Their origins go back millions of years when their ancestor Lucy was discovered buried in the ground. Inhabitants of a coveted region, these nomads and herdsmen are victims of persecution. Military invasions have progressively chased the...

Runway Diaries>>
by Md. Khalid Rayhan Shawon/Bangladesh

Runway is a place where aircraft take off and land. In Dhaka, Bangladesh there is a locality near the runway. People come to visit here to see aircraft closely as well as local people passing their normal life as well...

Father and Daughter>>
by Mstyslav Chernov/UnFrame/Ukraine

For 17 continuous years, Vitaliy takes care of his ill daughter Sasha. Her condition is thought to be from the fallout of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant meltdown in 1986 in Ukraine.

Euromaidan Kiev>>
by Arthur Bondar/Ukraine

Ukraine was always in a difficult economic and political situation and it didn't matter to the leaders. Politicians always care about themselves but not the people who live in this country. The level of corruption and crime increased especially in the last few years. At that time protests became...

Missionary of charity Mother Teresa' for unwanted child>>
by Mohammad Asad/Bangladesh

'Missionary of Charity Mother Teresa' helps mothers and unwanted children. For 43 years, they have given continuous service to the mother and child.

Trees Grow and Fall [Video]>>
by Nasser K/United States

In the forest, trees rise majestically as the world's sentinels of life, goodness, and clean air. In the city, packed with cars, people, and structures, trees become hindrances to progress, nuisances to be eliminated. Does it have to be this way? 

Welcome ~ to Burkina Faso>>
by Gretjen Helene/Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is a unique and colorful world. The deep red of the earth and the colorful pattern of cloths worn by the Burkinabe people are just a visual expression of the bright attitudes and cultural diversity to be found there. These images are a window into their way of life and the customs...

I Want to Dance>>
by Nafise M./Malaysia

Unlike most refugees in the world, Iranians don't escape from their homeland because of battles, genocide or civil war. Most of them mention lack of freedom in their cases to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. They mainly include journalists, activists, homosexuals, converted...

Pasung: Punished by the Gods>>
by Christian Werner/Bali

Bali is a tropical vacation paradise, but there is a dark side just a few tourists get to see. People with mental illness are chained by their family members, they are often tied up or locked up in shocking living conditions. Around 20 million people in Indonesia have a mental illness. Help...

Foreclosed Dreams>>
by David Wells/United States

Owning a home was once the American dream. At the peak of the foreclosure crisis, more than one in seven American homeowners were either behind on their mortgage payments or in the process of foreclosure. After a house is foreclosed, there is a fleeting moment when the ghosts of the one...

Quo Vadis, Black Death?>>
by Christian Werner/Madagascar

Plague, Yersinia pestis, Scourge of God, or the Black Death -- the plague has many names. It is known if at all, from the history books. Plague is a disease with a long history. Especially in the Middle Ages numerous plague epidemics carried large parts of the European population off, so that the...

Fish Camp>>
by David Mattox/United States

The East Side Setnet Fishery on Alaska's Upper Cook Inlet has been sustainably harvesting wild sockeye salmon for over a hundred years. Largely multi-generational family owned operations, these families and crews gather together each summer along the shores of the Cook Inlet not only...

by Karolina Jonderko/Poland

They left clothes strewn around, unmade beds, open books, the TV turned on, as if they were about to come back soon. They left their rooms unprepared for emptiness. Every year, the Polish police file 15,000 missing person reports. Every day, the faces of missing people...

Irish Road Bowling>>
by Wojciech Ryzinski/Ireland

Road Bowling is played with a 794 grams solid iron bowl with a circumference of approximately 18 centimetres. Contestants match their individual skills in throwing the bowl with optimum speed, controlled delivery, and international accuracy along a carefully considered and tactically selected path...

Mokpangumba: Our Village, Our Home.>>
by Sergio Leyva Seiglie/Sierra Leone

Mokpangumba is a small village in the heart of Upper Banta Chiefdom, Moyamba province, Sierra Leone. Being so close to hugely profitable rutile mines, it was utterly destroyed during the civil war of 1991-2001. Rebels attacked and kidnapped many of the villagers for use as soldiers and labourers...

Join the SDN community!
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.

More information >>

Media and Information Policy Journal/2014 now available
Five SDN photographers included in issue on Climate Change, Resource Conflict, the Environment and Human Security


Photo by Garth Lenz featured in MIPJ 2014: ATHABASCA RIVER, SUNCOR UPGRADER AND TAILINGS PONDS | Alberta Tar Sands | 2010  


Photo features include work by NOOR photographers Francesco Zizola, Pep Bonet, Kadir van Lohuizen, Nina Berman, and Jon Lowenstein; VII photographers Lynsey Addario and Ed Kashi (via, with additional features by SDN photographers Garth Lenz, Ismail Ferdous, Yusuke Suzuki, and Jon Lewis.     


The edition also includes interviews with environmental photojournalist and zoologist Sean Gallagher; photojournalist Robin Hammond on his book with MIPJ partner FotoEvidence, Condemned; James G. Workman and his book Heart of Dryness; Francisco Femia of the Center for Climate and Security; and Red Shuttleworth on his play High Plains Fandango, which includes themes of water scarcity.  


More information >>

Alexia Foundation Announces 2014 Women's Intitiative Grant   

The Alexia Foundation is pleased to announce the call for entries for our 2014 Women's Initiative Grant which will provide a $25,000 grant for a project to be produced on a significant issue involving and affecting women. This call for entries is intended to permit the photographer to propose a serious documentary photographic or multimedia project encompassing any issue involving women anywhere in the world.

Deadline for submissions, June 30, 2014. 

Daylight Photo Awards      

Have your work reviewed by an amazing jury and win $1000 and an exhibition at the Daylight Project Space!

2014 JURY: 
Lars Boering, Dutch Photographers Association 
Julian Cox, Deyoung Museum 
Louise Clements, Format Festival 
Elissa Curtis, MSNBC 
Holly Hughes, PDN 
Manik Katyal, Emaho Magazine

Entry fee: $35
Submit at
Deadline for submissions, May 1, 2014. 

Open Society Documentary Project Announces Moving Walls 22 Photography in an Age of Surveillance    

The Open Society Documentary Photography Project is soliciting proposals for our next exhibition, Moving Walls 22 / Watching You, Watching Me: Photography in an Age of Surveillance. The exhibition will take place from October 29, 2014, to May 2015 at Open Society Foundations-New York. 

Deadline for submissions, May 1, 2014. 

Current Crowd Funding Campaigns


by Lindsay Morris    

You Are You  

Support this book project that documents a weekend summer camp for gender-nonconforming children and their families. 

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.