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About SDN

Social Documentary Network/SDN

SDN (founded in 2008) and ZEKE magazine (founded in 2015) are projects of Reportage International, Inc., a new nonprofit organization founded in 2020 to support the work of the two programs.

Documentary Photography and Visual Storytelling Exploring Global Themes

Social Documentary Network (SDN) is for documentary photographers, editors, journalists, NGOs, lovers of photography and anyone else who believes that photography plays an important role in educating people about our world.

Our definition of documentary photography 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.

Launched in October 2008, the SDN website today has had nearly 3,300 compelling online exhibits submitted to the site by photographers from all corners of the globe documenting issues as diverse as the effects of modernization on Kathmandu, homelessness in the U.S., the consequences of oil exploitation in the Niger Delta, and reconciliation in Rwanda. All photographers on SDN share a common curiosity about the human condition and a strong desire to communicate their insights through words and photographs.

Benefits for Photographers

SDN makes it easy and affordable for photographers to create online exhibits of their documentary projects on the fastest growing documentary website. The greatest difference between SDN and other image sharing or portfolio websites is that we review all exhibits before going live to ensure that they meet the following criteria:

  1. Aesthetic quality. The photographs must have a strong point of view and have a deliberate and meaningful composition.
  2. Documentary integrity. The images and the writing must avoid sensationalism, factual information must be accurate, and the images must be respectful of the subject and viewer.
  3. Technical quality of digital files (resolution, focus, exposure, etc.) Only fewer than 10% of exhibits are not approved and we work with a photographers to bring their exhibit up to the level required to go live. We do not edit or curate exhibits. The content on SDN is completely user-generated.

SDN photographers also receive a personal home page on SDN with a photo and bio and a link from the exhibit to the photographer’s personal website. Photographers can also promote the link to their SDN website on their personal site, blog, or social networking pages. All of this creates greater awareness of their work and their issues. Their work becomes accessible to the more than 10,000 monthly visitors to SDN.

Beyond Photography

SDN also provides tools for photographers to inform viewers how to take action by linking their exhibits to NGOs engaged in work related to the subject of the exhibits.

SDN’s image bank of thousands  of photos is a valuable tool for journalists, policymakers, NGOs, and students seeking to better understand the human condition.

What is Required to Create an Exhibit

The minimum requirements to create an exhibit on SDN are a compelling story about an issue related to the human condition, six good photographs, an abstract describing the overall theme, and captions. In order to maintain an exhibit, SDN charges a nominal fee. These fees are used toward overall maintenance and development of the website. All exhibits have the option for a 90-day free trial.

More Than a Website

In addition to the website, SDN also sends out a monthy email Spotlight highlighting recent exhibits to more than 8,000 photographers, editors, NGOs, journalists and people interested in documentary photography.

Other programs include:

Create a free membership today as a first step in creating or exploring documentary websites on SDN!

We encourage you to join today and add your images and writing to SocialDocumentary.net. Begin using the site as your source for visual information about our world.