Jump to content

Organize/Record our history

From Wikipedia 10
Meeting of Wikimedia community of Ho Chi Minh city on January 1st, 2011 to celebrate 10th anniversary.

On January 15, 2011 the largest encyclopedia in history and one of the most valued information resources ever is turning ten. Celebrations are happening around the world. Cakes will be cut, toasts will be made, concerts performed, pages created, and stories will be told. We have an incredible year ahead in the history of our project, but if we care about our history and future, we must document our activities.

If you, your chapter or organization, or your company, school, etc are hosting an event, take pictures! Record video! In other words, create media and share it. Remember that everyone in our movement (and beyond) wants to see what everyone else is doing. Your pictures help tell the global story of Wikipedia 10, and they record our history for the ages.

Here are some tips and thoughts for recording your event.

Who will be in charge?

Braunschweiger Jäger mit dem weißen „Free Travel-Shirt“ und dem schwarzen T-Shirt des Braunschweiger Wikipedia-Stammtisches mit dessen Logo beim 3. Braunschweiger-Bürger-Brunch am 07. Juni 2009

Designate a photographer/videographer

Everyone takes pictures. Whether with smart phones, digital cameras, video cameras, or with professional equipment - everyone can do it. But when it comes time for that big group shot, who calls the shots? At your Wikipedia 10 event, designate one or two people to take care of all photography. If possible have one person shooting video and someone else shooting pictures. Your finest photographers will almost always stand out - but if you don't know, ask! Great photographers know how to make themselves known. They know how to make people comfortable being photographed, and they can produce really great shots.

If you don't know a photographer already, this is a great time to meet someone and invite them to your event. Good, amateur photographers are everywhere. In the case of special events, make sure your photographers are very comfortable photographing people in a variety of situations. Your designated photographer should also make sure everyone uploads their photos to commons, and understands creative commons licensing so everyone can share our photos on Wikimedia Commons.

Be ready - find good photography locations

Wikimania 2009 attendees in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Before the event takes places, make sure you've got someone arriving to photograph and/or videotape the event. Remember that photographs look best:

  • in good, natural light
  • generally in well-lit spaces
  • in places where people feel comfortable and at-ease

If your party or event is happening indoors, possibly in a dark space, make sure to find some well-lit places for photographs - whether of people, groups, or action.

Your photos tell the story of your location

A poster exhinition presented by Wikimedia Israel and the Hebrew Wikipedian community at the Technion, Haifa, Israel. December 30, 2007 to January 1st, 2008.

Not surprisingly, indoor spaces all pretty much look the same! Make sure to plan for photographs around or near your venue that help tell the story of where you are. Is it cold out? Is it tropical? Are you in the city or countryside? Head outside. Bring people, banners, cakes and other things and try to tell the story of your event by documenting the location. Ask yourself: Would someone from another part of the world know where this event is?

Even the smallest evidence of architecture, space, lighting, sculptures etc. help tell the story of your location and your event.

Let people know they will be photographed!

Ask permission before you take pictures. Respect personality rights, and when possible let event participants know they will be photographed, and their image shared on Wikimedia Commons (or other projects). Asking permission and notifying people of photography can also help people feel more comfortable at events. When someone knows they can also request to not be photographed, they also feel more comfortable.

    • Ask your photographer to record the names (and usernames!) of people in photographs.
    • Or ask participants to visit photos once they are posted and tag themselves and others.
    • Knowing who is in a photo is almost as important as having the photo itself!
    • (It's hard to write on the back of a digital image, isn't it?)

Props and items!

If you've requested Wikipedia 10 merchandise, wear it! Make the Wikipedia mark and other symbols present in your photographs so they help tell the story of the occasion. Computer screens and projections also help tell the story. People converge around images - we tell stories best with visual references. Find those spaces and take great shots.

  • However you should also think about taking some items out of the photograph if they are distracting or don't help the photo. Things like:
    • beverages
    • food (pizza isn't always that flattering)
    • clutter or garbage
    • if you can help it keep commercial or advertorial signs unrelated to the event out of shot, or out of focus.
Wikimania 2010, Gdansk Poland

High resolution, please!

History will thank you for making sure to shoot photographs at the maximum possible resolution. Set the resolution high, and upload shots at the best resolution possible.

Compose your shots

Jimmy Wales at Wikimania 2009

Taking pictures of peoples and groups can be really challenging. If you have a zoom lens, it's easier to step back and capture moments without getting close. Otherwise you may have to step close to two people talking, or even closer to frame a portrait well.

  • Stay close to your subject. The further you get, the shakier the shot, the less clear the faces and details, and the poorer the light.
  • Use lights and flash. Experiment with your flash before you start taking pictures. Test with a subject. When possible add light to the whole space - this will generally provide better results than a flash.
  • Shoot lots and lots of pictures. This simple rule of thumb is the best way to get excellent photos, and to become a better photographer in general. This is why having one person focus on photography is so important. Taking a thousand or more pictures for a big event is normal if you want to get some very good photographs. Sorting images out later is hard, but worth the time.
  • Group shots can be tricky, but they're important too. Take time to organize people well. Make sure the group is well-lit from the front (or use a flash), and stay as close as you can to keep everyone in the shot and maintain the focus.
  • Use a tripod to keep shots as clear and in-focus as possible.

Edit and Upload

Indonesian editor in front of Wikipedia writing contest banner

Images are only telling the story if you share them! Before you upload that 1,000 images you shot, edit them down carefully to the best shots. For a busy event with 100 or so people, you could have 25-50 really amazing photographs. Ten photographs is better than nothing, of course, but 200 photographs makes it harder for people to find the really great images that tell the story.

  • Include a variety of images...
    • Groups of people talking
    • Speakers and special visitors
    • Establishing shots - those shots of the whole space, outdoors or indoors, showcasing the whole group and establishing the scene
    • People using computers - what's on their screen?
    • People showcasing products or props
    • Birthday cakes! Other birthday-themed items
    • People expressing emotion

Upload where?

Indian Wikipedians at Foss.IN in 2009.
  • On Wikimedia Commons at Wikipedia 10 events.
  • Or list other places on that Commons page where other images can be found (flickr, picasa etc).
  • Don't forget
    • add detail to photographs: users or people in images
    • title images intuitively
    • cross-post in other categories related to your chapter or geography on Commons
    • encourage others to upload images - email on lists etc when your images are posted.

These images play a critical role in documenting the history of our movement, our project, and the whole free culture world. Future generations will turn to this resource to understand more about the pioneers who helped build the largest encyclopedia in history.