To get this out of the way first: I don’t consider myself one of Wikipedia’s best photographers. Up to this date, 11 of my photos have attained featured picture status on Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia’s media respository. There are other community members who are far better photographers than I am. Some of them have uploaded tons of featured pictures to Commons. You can take a look at some of those people’s featured works in Commons’ category of featured pictures by creator.
Who this series of blog posts is for
Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll explain how you can attain featured picture status for one of your photos on Wikimedia Commons. You’ll learn how to:
- get a high quality shot that makes your photo worthy of attaining featured picture status on Commons
- do some basic postprocessing and upload your work to Commons
- successfully get through the featured picture nomination process
I’ll also explain my personal strategy for attaining featured picture status and I’ll give you some ideas of what the most common mistakes are. I’ll walk you step-by-step through the whole process.
So, if you’re new to Wikimedia Commons and you’re what other people would describe as a photography enthusiast, this is for you. If you’re already familiar with how to upload pictures to Commons, but you’ve never dared to nominate one of your works, this tutorial might help.
About Wikimedia Commons and its Featured Pictures
Wikimedia Commons (or simply “Commons”) is Wikipedia’s media repository. Built from the works shared by thousands of volunteers, Commons hosts educational images, videos and audio files that are used by Wikipedia and the other projects of the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, in all languages.
What’s special about Commons is that every single media file is available under a free license. Each file can be used and shared by anyone, for free, just by following the license rules – usually by giving credit to the author and preserving the license so that others can re-share the work as well.
Today, Commons contains more than 17 million files, which makes it one of the biggest media repositories on the web. Currently, about 5,200 of Commons’ pictures – including photographs, computerised graphics, animated media, etc. – have attained “Featured Picture” status. Featured pictures are images that the community has chosen to be highlighted as some of the finest on Commons. You can browse through those images by visiting the featured pictures page on Commons.
Why would you ever want to nominate your photo as featured picture on Commons?
Now, why would you ever go through the process of nominating your photo as featured picture on Commons? Doesn’t that sound like a lot of work? Yes, absolutely. Going through the whole process can take you weeks. However, I believe it’s totally worth it.
And here’s why: by participating in the featured picture nominations on Commons, I learned a lot about what other people consider an outstanding photo. This helped me tremendously with improving my own skills. Today, I have a much better understanding of what makes a great shot. The feedback from my fellow community members on Commons enabled me to hone my post processing skills, as well as my photography workflow as a whole. Additionally, every picture that makes it successfully through the nomination process will participate in Commons’ Picture of the Year contest. That way, you’ll get another opportunity for feedback by an even wider audience.
Could you achieve the same effect on other photography sites as well? Absolutely. What makes Commons stand out, though, is that its community is brutally honest. Some of my pictures which got a lot of attention on Flickr, failed when I nominated them as featured pictures on Commons. The community on Commons is highly critical which I think is a good thing. Because, after all, this is about the best that Wikipedia, one of the world’s biggest websites, has to offer when it comes to high quality photos.
My next post in this series will be about “Getting the shot”. I’ll explain how doing research can help you with getting a better result and also what my workflow looks like when I’m at the scene.