Spotlight banner July 2015
Dear SDN Readers:

Where is this world of digital image making going? Does a photograph on our high resolution phones give us a rich enough experience to appreciate the complexity and nuances of a photograph taken with a 30 megapixel camera?  


Our world has never been more tied to the visual experience created by photographic images which today are sharper, dust free, and have greater color fidelity than ever before. But what about the other stuff, the soul and content of a photograph? Has anyone surpassed W. Eugene Smith, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, or August Sander? Many of today's greatest come close, but it is not because of the camera they carry over their shoulder.


Great technical proficiency in photography has never been the core of what makes great photography and great photographers. Rather it is an idea about ourselves, our world, how the two interact, what matters, what is real, what is human, what is BS. That is the stuff of great photos whether it is film, digital, Polaroid, or from a Diana.


As we all continue on this great adventure into the unknown future of this magnificent medium, let's take stock in what matters--photography only begins with the technology of making a photo but can lead us into the darkest or brightest recesses of our collective psyches. That is what matters and makes it so interesting.


As always, I am thrilled to present this issue of Spotlight and proud to feature the work of Brian Driscoll as Featured Photographer of the Month. In 2012, Brian was a winner of our call for entries on the Art of Documentary for his project on Political Prisoners of a Revolution. His work this month is on Urban Asylum-Seekers in Thailand and the human toll of finding a new and better life in a hostile and strange world.

Glenn Ruga
SDN Founder and Director

Brian Driscoll
  Photo by Brian Driscoll from Urban Asylum-Seekers.
Rashid, 25, an asylum-seeker from Karachi, Pakistan, spends most
  of his time inside his room.

Brian Driscoll/July 2015 Featured Photographer of the Month
Urban Asylum-Seekers  

This series is a photographic record of people who strive to live a life of freedom, but who are currently in a statelessness chapter of time in their lives. Cities and towns across the world have become home to millions of people trying to escape violence and persecution. People are targeted for their religious beliefs, social status, race, gender, nationality, and on-going conflict. 

View Exhibit >>

Brian Driscoll Brian Driscoll is a documentary photographer currently based in New York City. His humanistic interest in photography began in his early 20s after exploring Central America and South Asia. As a visual communicator, Brian searches for opportunities to go deeper within the layers of a given society striving to capture the nature of the human spirit and portray a distinctive characteristic of an individual that may otherwise have been overlooked. His work emphasizes social and political issues.

Brian is a graduate of the documentary and photojournalism program at the International Center of Photography where he was a recipient of the Director's fellowship and most recently the recipient of the Rita K. Hillman Foundation Fellowship. His work has been exhibited at festivals and galleries nationally and internationally, including powerhouse arena in Brooklyn and the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow. In 2011, he was selected and featured as an Emerging Talent by Getty Reportage.

Brian has received awards from Lens Culture, American Photography, Prix de la Photographie, Paris (PX3), FotoWeekDC, International Photography Awards,, New York Photo Festival Invitational, Magenta Foundation, FotoVisura Grant, Kontinent Awards, and New York Photo Awards.

July 2015 Spotlight


Seeking Refuge>>
by REZA/Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo

"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." -Mahatma Gandhi
In my view, refugees are the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society, our human family. Over the last three decades, I have borne witness to the conflicts which tear apart the ...

Jo Farrell
Living History: Bound Feet Women of China>>
by Jo Farrell/Hong Kong

This ongoing photographic project documents and celebrates the lives of some of the last remaining women in China with bound feet. In their native country, China, it is not often discussed, as it is considered such an old custom that does not reflect modern China. For the past nine years I have been...

Rui Pires
Nepal: The resilience ...>>
by Rui Pires/Nepal

This is an essay about the resilience of the Nepali people after the terrible earthquake that killed more than 8,700 people, injured more than 22,000, displaced more than 450.000, and destroyed a large part of the country schools... 

Bernardo Hupsel
Yemanjá, Faith and Devotion>>
by Bernardo Hupsel/Brazil

In colonial Brazil, slaves brought from Africa were not allowed to practice their own religion, resulting in a syncretic religious fusion that developed into a few different Afro-Brazilian religions such as Candomblé and Umbanda. Although worshiped through Latin America and other places the mo...

Death Rite>>
by Ian Flanders/Nepal

Located on the banks of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu, Nepal is the Pashupatinath temple -- considered one of the sacred temples of Hindu faith. Family, friends and the public gather to mourn the dead, witnessing the burning of the deceased on the pyres...

Fighting diabetic eye disease in Africa>>
by Terry Cooper/Uganda

285 million people are visually impaired worldwide: 39 million are blind and 246 million have low vision severly impacting the quality of their own daily lives and that of their families. The causes of such visual impairment are largely avoidable with 80% of causes treatable given access to healthca...

Weekend Warriors>>
by Daniel Gorman/United States

This is my community. Weekend warriors; once a month and two weeks in the summer. "Guard bums" is the less charitable moniker. That's the common perception of our National Guardsmen and women, although that reality has vastly changed in a post-September 11 nation. This series comes from...

Portraits of Santa Marta>>
by Eric Cortés/Colombia

Facing urban renewal and aggressive tourism in Santa Marta, Colombia. With the development of the region, hundreds of families are losing their jobs and houses, giving space to hotels with private beaches where access to locals is being denied. Dealing with pollution, dynamite fishing and the...

Reporting Back to You: Volume 3>>
by Paul McGuirk/United States

There's a lot fibrillating from the heart of our culture now, creating spasms that can hurt you if you get too close to a nervous reflex from one of its extremities. In an effort to feel for fever, I've put the front and back of my hand to the face of this. Even, at times, putting...

by Alfred Rasho/United States

As a kid, the movies were absolutely magical for me. I never imagined a life of creativity for myself. When my parents took me to the toy store, I would choose a toy instrument, the only creative outlet that was available to me.  As a young teen and into my 20s, I played in various bands but ...

Face of opposition>>
by Łukasz Łuciuk/Poland

More and more Poles are manifesting their dissatisfaction with the current political situation. Each subsequent demonstration gather more people, and at rallies we can hear more and more radical slogans.  Protesters' faces express grief, sadness, resignation and helplessness, and all of the...

Pink Paddle>>
by Joseph Bornilla/United States

When we are faced with any critical challenges, as humans we normally complain and to the extremes, we blame and curse the Supreme Being. This series is a documentary of strong ladies that can be our inspiring heroes. Los Angeles Pink Dragons, founded in 2003, is California's first dragon boat...

Coal mining on the surface>>
by Heidi L. Augestad/South Africa

The Witbank area in Mpomalanga, two hours drive from Johannesburg, is one of the worlds most polluted areas because of the coal mining industry. With 560 active coal mines, this region is producing 73% of South Africa's electricity. The local communities suffer the back drops of this industry due...

New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial>>
by John Romanski/United States

The New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial is located in lower Manhattan, New York City. The main entrance area is at Water Street to South Street. This memorial was originally built in the early 1980s. Translucent glass blocks form the wall. The wall contains engraved excerpts of diary entries...

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

Glenn Ruga
Founder & Director

Barbara Ayotte
Communications Director

Paula Sokolska
ZEKE Writer & Editor 

Caterina Clerici

Special Issue Editor  

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SDN News

Order ZEKE Magazine in Print or Digital

ZEKE Cover
ZEKE magazine is now available in both print and digital formats and features work of leading SDN photographers. The first issue features water scarcity, the Bangladesh garment industry, and Rio de Janeiro as it prepares for the 2016 summer Olympics with photographs by Dario De Dominicis, Suvra Kanti Das, Tiana Markova-Gold, Rudi Dundas, and others.
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srebrenicaSDN Commemorates the 20th Anniversary of the Srebrenica Massacre with these Seven Exhibiit 
Sarajevo 1995 SDN presents these seven exhibits that explore the events of the war in Bosnia, the aftermath of Srebrenica, and life in Bosnia today as the population needs nothing more than to move on.

Submit Your Work to SDN
Find out how to have your work featured on the SDN website, included in ZEKE, Spotlight, and eligible for Featured Photographer of the Month.
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About Social Documentary Network 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.