About the Social Documentary Network

SDN 10th anniversary

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SDN 10th Anniversary Party. Photo by Matthew Lomanno

Social Documentary Network (SDN), founded in 2008, is a global community of documentary photographers, editors, curators, NGOs, students, journalists and others who believe in the power of visual storytelling to build understanding and appreciation for the complexities, nuances, wonders, and contradictions that abound in the world today. 

Since our founding, the SDN website has featured more than 4,000 exhibits by nearly 3,500 photographers from all corners of the globe. We also create gallery exhibitions, educational programs, lecture series, award programs, portfolio reviews, and our flagship print and digital magazine founded in 2015, ZEKE: The Magazine of Global Documentary. 

In 2020, SDN founded a parent nonprofit organization, Reportage International, which is now the umbrella organization set up to support the programs of both SDN and ZEKE.

Documentary Photography and Visual Storytelling Exploring Global Themes

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. Documentary work presented by SDN can be about solutions, recovery, peace and reconciliation, and rebuilding. But it can also be about conflict, 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.

All photographers on SDN share a common curiosity about the human condition and a strong desire to communicate their insights through photographs and words.

SDN Major Programs

SDN Website: A web portal for documentary photographers to create online galleries of their projects and make them available to anyone with an internet connection. Since 2008, we have presented more than 3,300 documentary stories from all parts of the world.

ZEKE Magazine: This bi-annual publication allows us to present visual stories in print form with in-depth writing about the themes of the photography projects.

ZEKE Award for Documentary Photography: An award program established in 2019 juried by a distinguished panel of international media professionals. Award winners are exhibited at Photoville in Brooklyn, the Bridge Gallery in Cambridge, and featured in ZEKE.

Documentary Matters: A place for photographers to meet with others involved with or interested in documentary photography and discuss ongoing or completed projects. Originally founded as in in-person program in 2016, since Covid, it is entirely online and reach a global audience.

SDN Education: An initiative of SDN offering educational opportunities for photographers interested in advancing their knowledge and skills in the field of documentary photography.

SDN Review: SDN has teamed up with leaders in the editorial, publishing, and fine art industries to review work of documentary photographers, offer constructive criticism, and to keep an eye out for new and talented photographers to showcase in media, galleries, and in publications.