I dropped out of 100wikiCommonsDays – here’s why I enjoyed it anyway
Is it possible to upload a photo to Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia’s media repository, every day for 100 consecutive days? The answer is yes. Until today, two photographers have completed the challenge and many more will hopefully follow their lead. I started my own 100wikiCommons challenge and dropped out after uploading 68 photos. Here’s why I enjoyed it anyway.
I always admired fellow photographers who participated in “365 Projects”. Taking at least one photograph every single day, for a full year, seemed inspiring and daunting at the same time. Such a project pushes and stretches you. When I first heard of a similar project for Wikipedia photographers, I thought “100 days – that sounds feasible!” So, in early December 2016, I created a page on Wikimedia Commons to document my progress and started uploading an image every day.
Using your camera every day opens your eyes to the many photographic opportunities in your everyday life
At first, I uploaded wildlife and landscape images that I had taken on my weekend trips along the California coast. Quickly I learned that using my camera every day opened my eyes to the many photographic opportunities in my everyday life. So I continued with images that I took in the Presidio of San Francisco during my daily lunch breaks. Photos during my first month of 100wikiCommonsDays included views of the Golden Gate Bridge, monuments like the Korean War Memorial, and the former Presidio Theatre.
Then, on a work trip to Stanford University, I documented the Stanford campus, including the beautiful Memorial Church. A weekend drive up the Pacific Coast brought me back to Fort Ross, a former Russian settlement in Sonoma County. I even got back into photographing lighthouses, after one of my colleagues looked at me and said “I really like your lighthouse pictures. Why don’t you go back to photographing them?”
In order to shoot interesting photos, you have to travel to interesting places
But my personal highlight was a 3-day-excursion to the Lost Coast, one of the most remote areas in Northern California. The Lost Coast had been on my bucket list for quite some time and I truly enjoyed the adventure of taking photos of lonely beaches and spectactular coastlines. If I learned one thing over the last couple of years, it is that you have to travel to interesting places in order to shoot interesting photos.
With people in the United States being increasingly concerned about the future of this country, I decided to document “Bridge Together Golden Gate,” a peaceful protest on Inauguration Day. On January 20th, several thousands, many of them dressed in purple (the symbolic color of anti-bullying) formed a human chain on the sidewalk across the Golden Gate Bridge. And I was among them, as a photojournalist for Wikipedia. What a very special moment! Without participating in the 100wikiCommonsDays, I might would most certainly have missed the opportunity to capture the inspiring enthusiasm of that day.
If you set out to participate in 100wikiCommonsDays, do it at the right time of the year
Then, after day 68, I dropped out. Almost everything came together: the darkness in the mornings and evenings (remember, I started my personal challenge in the middle of the winter), an unusual amount of rainy days, a growing workload at my job, and finally, a cold that prevented me from going outside and taking pictures.
That’s another learning: if you plan on taking photos almost every day, make sure that you’ll have enough time at your hands and that the conditions will allow you to spend time outside.
In the end, I tremendously enjoyed the experience. Looking back, it really didn’t matter that I couldn’t finish the project. My personal 68 WikiCommonsDays pushed me you out of my comfort zone. They forced me to engage with other types and styles of photography (like photojournalism). The commitment to complete the challenge opened my eyes for the beauty of my surroundings and it encouraged me to constantly think about the next photo opportunity. If you like to challenge your own photography skills and you enjoy sharing photos with others through Wikipedia, 100wikiCommonsDays might be for you.