C A L L   F O R   E N T R I E S

Visual Stories Exploring Global Themes

SDN Congratulations the Call for Entry winners:

Click here for winners >>


The theme of this Call for Entries is the new tagline of the Social Documentary Network (SDN), “Visual Stories Exploring Global Themes.” The category is broadly defined but the key point is that we are not only looking for a collection of great images, we are also looking for cohesive visual stories. The work must be based in the visual language, but words can go a long way in providing context and giving viewers what the images alone cannot.

Our definition of documentary is broad and it doesn't have to be about problems. We encourage work about joy, love, happiness, ordinary life anywhere. Your work can be about solutions, recovery, peace and reconciliation, and rebuilding. But it can also be about conflict, and disease, and climate change, as long as the stories are about real people and/or real situations. We want the real stuff, your stuff — messy, awkward, jubilant, filled with contradictions, want of answers, but the stuff that the world is made up of everywhere,
every day.

Deadline for entries: Extended to midnight EST, January 20, 2015
Submission fee for up to 30 images: $35
Scholarships available. Information >>.

How to Submit to the Call for Entries

  • Visit the SDN website,
  • Create a free membership,
  • Login to your account, and click on tab "Create New Exhibit"
  • Click on link "Create new exhibit and submit to competition"
  • Upload text and at least six images. Photos must be at least 1500 pixels in one dimension. For further information on creating an exhibit, click here



First Place: One photographer

  • Work from winning entry will be exhibited at the Bronx Documentary Center and photographer will be acknowledged as First Place winner. Exhibition opens late May 2014. Exact dates TBD. SDN will pay for high quality printing of work (not mounted) for exhibition, or photographer can choose to deliver work to gallery for hanging.
  • $500 honoraria
  • Featured in ZEKE Magazine
  • Featured in email Spotlight sent to SDN’s 7,500 followers.
  • Featured on SDN’s home page.
  • Featured on SDN social media.

Honorable Mention: 2-4 photographers at discretion of judges:

  • Work from winning entry will be exhibited at the Bronx Documentary Center and photographers will be acknowledged as Honorable Mention. Exhibition opens late May 2014. Exact dates TBD. SDN will pay for high quality printing of work (not mounted) for exhibition, or photographer can choose to deliver work to gallery for hanging.
  • Featured in ZEKE Magazine
  • Featured in email Spotlight sent to SDN’s 7,500 followers.
  • Featured on SDN’s home page.
  • Featured on SDN social media.


Felicia Anastasia: Founder and Creative Director of Anastasia Photo Gallery in New York. Dedicated exclusively to Documentary Photography and Photojournalism, Anastasia Photo grew out of Felicia's commitment to objectively recording the human condition in an ever changing world. With every exhibition, the gallery makes a donation to a charitable organization associated with the photographer’s subject matter.

Barbara Ayotte: Director of Strategic Communications for Management Sciences for Health (MSH); Director of Communications, Social Documentary Network. Former Director of Communications for Physicians for Human Rights.

Sam Barzilay: Creative Director of United Photo Industries; co-founder of Photoville. a new pop-up photo destination that made its debut on the Brooklyn waterfront in the summer of 2012; former director of the New York Photo Festival. In his dual capacity as curator and festival organizer, he has had the pleasure and privilege of curating photo exhibitions and lecturing on current trends in contemporary photography.

Alice Gabriner: International Photo Editor at TIME magazine, a position she held previously from 2003-2009. Prior to rejoining TIME, Gabriner was a Senior Photo Editor at National Geographic magazine, and before that, she was the Deputy Director of Photography in the Obama White House. During her ten-year tenure at TIME from 1999-2009 she oversaw the magazine¹s award winning coverage of the Iraq War, and she worked with TIME’s notable team of photographers during the Presidential election in 2000.

Molly Roberts: Photographer and photography editor, currently Chief Photography Editor at Smithsonian Magazine, with 25 years experience in the magazine publishing world. She is an advocate for powerful visual storytelling and human rights and recently created the non-profit HumanEyesUSA to present documentary photography projects in public spaces and to use powerful imagery to help illuminate complex issue facing America.

Glenn Ruga: Founder and Director, Social Documentary Network; Executive Editor of ZEKE magazine, to be launched in April 2015. Former Executive Director, Photographic Resource Center at Boston University; Curator of 2012 New York Photo Festival.

Jeffrey D. Smith: Executive Director, Contact Press Images where he has directed the photographic coverage operations of the agency for more than two decades. Former Executive Director of Woodfin Camp and Associates.

Jamie Wellford: Former International Photo Editor, Newsweek Magazine. He teaches at the International Center of Photography in New York City and is currently a Knight Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan. Wellford also curates photography and multimedia shows that address topical issues in the world.

Entry Requirements

All entries must have between 6 and 30 photographs related to a specific theme. The submission may also have a multimedia component to supplement the still images. Submissions must have an abstract to provide context (180 words maximum) and captions to accompany the photographs. Additional text about the situation being documented may also be entered, as well as a bio of the photographer, information on organizations working with affected communities, and other relevant information. Photographs must have been taken after January 1, 2009.

All work must be submitted via the Social Documentary Network website at For specific image specifications, see: Images must be a minimum of 1500 pixels in one dimension.

All entries are automatically and simultaneously submitted for exhibition on the Social Documentary Network website and must follow all rules and regulations regarding exhibits on SDN.

Exhibits on need to be approved before going live (click here for more information). In the event that an entry to the Call for Entries is not accepted for the SDN website, the photographer may make changes to their exhibit and re-submit, at no additional cost, up until the entry deadline. Greater than 90% of all exhibits submitted to SDN are approved.

Photographers can submit multiple contest entries but individual photographs may only be submitted for one entry.

All entries will be viewable to the public on the SDN site.

Converting Existing Exhibits

Existing exhibit on SDN can easily be converted to a Call for Entries submission by logging into your account and clicking a button in the admin page for your exhibit.


Contest is open to professional and amateur US and international photographers. SDN staff, volunteers, advisory committee members, judges, and their families are not eligible to enter the competition. Previous SDN Call for Entries winners in the past three years are not eligible to enter.

Entry Fees

$35 for one exhibit entry of 6 – 30 images and one multimedia piece. All fees must be paid using a credit card on the SDN website. International credit cards are accepted. All entry submissions and fees are final and non-refundable.


Scholarships are available for photographers from countries without access to credit cards or where the $35.00 fee would be prohibitive. To apply, send an email to with an explanation of your need.

Important Dates

Entries accepted on SDN website: Starting December 5
Entries deadline: January 18 (extended to January 20)
Judging: January 29-Feburary 13
Winners Announced: February 25 (This has been extended from original date of Feb 23.)
Exhibition at Bronx Documentary Center: May 22 - June 7, 2015
Exhibition Reception: Saturday evening, May 30, 2015

Use Rights

All entrants and winners retain copyright of their work. By submission for jurying, photographers whose images are chosen grant SDN a royalty-free license to use their images for the purpose of subsequent display on the SDN site or in SDN promotional materials. Entries grant SDN the right to use their name for promotion in any medium including radio, newspapers, publications, television, videotape, and/or distribution over the internet. Samples of the winning work will be released to the press for promotional purposes. Photographers grant use of their images as stated without further contact or compensation from SDN other than the prizes listed above. Photographer’s credit will be provided with all use. Winners grant SDN the right to use the work in SDN Annual if chosen (digital or print).


Entrant acknowledges that SDN may not be held liable for any loss, damages, or injury associated with this contest. Entrant agrees to indemnify SDN for all costs, damages and attorney fees resulting from any third party claims, including copyright infringement, arising from entrant’s participation.

SDN reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to disqualify any entrant that fails to comply with contest and website rules and guidelines. This Contest is void where prohibited by law.

About SDN

Social Documentary Network (SDN) uses the power of photography to promote global awareness. SDN members include photographers, NGOs, journalists, editors, and students who create and explore documentary websites 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.


Email us at