Through a Woman's Lens

Esther Bubley, Photo by Gordon Parks, 1944. Library of Congress

Deadline for entries: January 7, 2018
Submission fee for up to 30 images: $30
Scholarships available. See below for details.

SDN is proud to celebrate women photographers with this Call for Entries open only to women*. The winning entry will be featured in the Women’s Issue of ZEKE magazine featuring only women photographers.

Women photographers have been at the forefront of the medium since 1839 but for 178 years have often faced discrimination and sexism in a craft and profession dominated by men.

Supporting articles related to documentary practice will be also be written by women authors. While only women photographers are eligible to submit to this Call for Entries, the themes for submission are open to any topic of interest as long as your submission is documentary. (We allow for a broad definition of documentary.)

Submission to the Call for Entries can be new or existing exhibits on the  Social Documentary Network website. All submissions are exhibited on the SDN website and are eligible to be featured in the Women’s Issue of ZEKE magazine as well as subsequent issues.

Boston-based curator and writer J. Sybylla Smith (see bio below) is the guest editor of the Women’s Issue of ZEKE magazine to be published in April 2018.

Other benefits of entering "Through a Woman's Lens".

  • Your work will be carefully looked at by a panel of expert judges. While you won't get personal feedback, you will be sure that they will take notice of memorable work. (See below for bios.) 
  • Your work will be eligible for all future issues of ZEKE magazine.
  • All entries are considered for our monthly email Spotlight and in our social media.
  • All entries remain live on the SDN website for one year and can be renewed. The SDN website is viewable and searchable by the thousands of people who visit the SDN website each week.
  • SDN periodically does other special online publications, including InFocus, that your work is eligible to be featured in.

In you are not already a subscriber of ZEKE magazine, click here.

*Anyone who self-identifies as female is eligible to submit to this Call for Entries.

Click here to enter >>


First Place

  • Featured in the spring 2018 Women’s Issue of ZEKE magazine.
  • $1,500 cash prize.
  • Featured in email Spotlight sent to SDN’s 8,500 members.
  • Featured on SDN’s home page.
  • Featured on SDN’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds.

Honorable Mention: Four photographers

  • Presented in the spring 2017 issue of ZEKE magazine.
  • Receive 100 "frames" from SDN to be used for new exhibits or renewals. ($85 cash value)
  • Featured in email Spotlight sent to SDN’s 9,800 subscribers.
  • Featured on SDN’s home page.
  • Featured on SDN's Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds.

Other female photographers will be selected from both the Call for Entries submissions and from the entire archives of SDN to be included in two other articles in ZEKE magazine.


Barbara Ayotte: Senior Director of Strategic Communications, Management Sciences for Health, a global health nonprofit organization that has worked in over 150 countries to help build stronger health systems in developing nations. Barbara is also an editor for ZEKE magazine and Director of Communications for Social Documentary Network.


Aida MulunehAida Muluneh: Born in Ethiopia, Aida studied film at Howard University in the U.S. and then went on to work as a photojournalist at the Washington Post. She is also an exhibiting artist with exhibitions throughout the world and with work in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Hood Museum, and the Museum of Biblical Art in the United States. As one of the leading experts on photography from Africa, she has been a jury member on several photography competitions including the Sony World Photography Awards and the World Press Photo Contest. Aida is the founder and director of the Addis Foto Fest and she continues to curate and develop cultural projects with local and international institutions through her company DESTA (Developing and Educating Society Through Art) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Amy PereiraAmy Pereira: Amy’s focus is documentary photography and long-form visual storytelling.  As Director of Photography at MSNBC (2013 - 2016), she spearheaded multiple long-form award-winning projects including: The Geography of Poverty by Matt Black, Continental Drift made in partnership with Magnum Photos about the global refugee and migrant crisis and Political Theatre by Mark Peterson.


J. Sybylla SmithJ. Sybylla Smith: Independent curator with more than 25 solo or group exhibitions featuring over 80 international photographers exhibited in the U.S., Mexico and South America. An adjunct professor, guest lecturer and thesis advisor, Sybylla has worked with the School of Visual Arts, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Wellesley College, and Harvard  University.


Molly Roberts: Photography editor, curator, and photographer; she recently joined National Geographic magazine as a Senior Photography Editor after 15 years as Chief Photography Editor at Smithsonian Magazine. Molly is the acting director of the DC-based, Women Photojournalists of Washington.


Deborah WillisDeborah Willis, Ph.D.: Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Professor Willis has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Fletcher, and MacArthur fellowships, the Infinity Award from the ICP, and recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation Award. Named one of the "100 Most Important People in Photography" by American Photography magazine she is one of the nation's leading historians of African American photography and curators of African American culture. Willis's books include Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery, with Barbara Krauthamer, Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present, and Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty.  

Amy YenkinAmy Yenkin: An indepedent producer and editor. She is a recognized expert in the field of social issue documentary photography, with an emphasis on the use of arts for social change, philanthropy, non-profit management, and strategic planning. Amy is the former director of the Documentary Photography Project at the Open Society Foundations (OSF).


Daniella ZalcmanDaniella Zalcman: Daniella is a documentary photographer and is a grantee of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a fellow with the International Women’s Media Foundation, and a member of Boreal Collective. She is the winner of the 2016 FotoEvidence Book Award, the Magnum Foundation’s Inge Morath Award, and the Magenta Foundation’s Bright Spark Award for her project Signs of Your Identity. Daniella’s work regularly appears in The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, National Geographic, and CNN, among others. In 2017 she started Women Photograph, an initiative to elevate the voices of female visual journalists. (

How to Enter

Create and submit an exhibit of your work on the SDN website. When submitting, you will have a choice for a standard exhibit or competition entry. Choose competition entry. The remainder of the process will be identical to creating a standard exhibit, but your work will be entered to the call for entries. Click here for details on how to submit your work to SDN.

Entry Requirements

Entries must be documentary. We define this broadly, but an important quality is that the intent is to tell a visual story about the subject of your photographs. If the work is more about you as an artist, then it would not be appropriate for SDN or ZEKE magazine.

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, 2010 unless the work is part of a long term project that began prior to 2010 and continues to the present.

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.

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

Converting Existing Exhibits to Call for Entries Submission

Existing exhibits on SDN can easily be converted to a Call for Entries submission by logging into your account, going to the exhibit you want to convert, and click a button at the top of the page to convert to the Call for Entries.


This Call for Entries is only open to woman. We leave that to you to define your self-identified gender.

The Call for Entries 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. Previous SDN Call for Entries first-place winners in the past five years are not eligible to enter. There is no restriction for honorable mention winners from prior years.

Entry Fees

$30 for one exhibit entry of 6 – 30 images and one multimedia piece. All fees must be paid using a credit or debit 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 there the submission fee would be prohibitive. To apply, send an email to with an explanation of your need. Requests for scholarships must be received one week prior to submission deadline.

Important Dates

  • Entries accepted on SDN website: November 7
  • Entries deadline: Midnight EST, January 7, 2018
  • Judging: January 14-28
  • Winners Announced: By February 6
  • Published in Womens' Issue of ZEKE: Spring 2018

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, in SDN promotional materials, and in ZEKE magazine. 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.


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.

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.


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