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News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement

Posts Tagged ‘Photographer profile’

There are no barriers to free knowledge

This post is available in 2 languages:
English  • Polish


St. John’s Bridge, a gothic bridge in the Old Town of Kłodzko, Poland.

When Jacek Halicki first discovered the Wiki Loves Monuments photo contest through a banner located on top of the main page of the Polish Wikipedia, not only hadn’t he realized he could actually edit Wikipedia by himself; he could never have foreseen that contributing to Wikipedia would soon become a passion and a way to overcome the barriers in his life.

Hailing from Kłodzko in south-western Poland, a city referred to as the Little Prague due to its high number of culturally significant buildings, Jacek Halicki is a former photojournalist, amateur radio operator, jazz lover and perhaps most importantly to his story, a pensioner with severe mobility impairment.

Jacek Halicki with his tricycle.

When asked what made him stay with Wikipedia, he says that it is a natural consequence of the active life he lived before falling ill. “It is a great use of my free time to the benefit of others and also a way to prove to myself and others that illness does not mean idleness, apathy and depression,” he adds.

Halicki’s contributions to the Wikimedia movement certainly reflect this positive attitude. Since September 2012, he has uploaded more than 4,000 pictures to Wikimedia Commons; more than 100 of them have been assessed to be of quality image standard by his fellow Commons contributors, with an additional dozen or so being awarded featured picture status on the Polish Wikipedia.

A local patriot, Halicki expresses his fondness for the city of Kłodzko by creating new articles about its culture and monuments. He also improves existing articles about Kłodzko and illustrates them with the pictures he takes from his tricycle, a modified e-bike that he operates with an electric motor.


Documenting the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 for Wikimedia

This post is available in 4 languages: English 7% • Svenska 100%Deutsch 7% • 中文 100%


I got an idea in May, 2012, as the Eurovision Song Contest was ending and Loreen had just been named the 2012 winner, with her song Euphoria. Because Loreen represented Sweden, the 2013 contest would be held in my country. This would create an exciting opportunity for me and Wikipedia, because my home is in Gothenburg, and I could take really good photos for the Wikimedia Commons database.

Loreen after she won in 2012.

Photo: Vugarİbadov

Licence: CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported.

Eurovision Song Contest is well documented on Wikipedia. The contest was started in 1956, and currently has Wikipedia articles in 91 languages[1], many including information on artists and their songs, statistics, voting history, the rules and points awarded. My idea started here because there are not many photos and the quality varies; occasionally someone sitting in the audience at the show manages to take a photo with their phone, but there were not many quality images. Using the CC-BY-SA-3.0 license, anyone would be free to copy, distribute and edit my photos, as long as I am attributed and new versions of the photos have the same license.

The most common use of photos on Wikimedia Commons is in Wikipedia articles, and photos enhance the articles. My goal was to make it possible to have really good, professional photos of every artist in the Eurovision Song Contest 2013. Newspapers, magazines, websites and other media outlets that did not send a photographer to Malmö could also use my photos from the database.

I applied for photo accreditation and, at first, my application was denied because the Head of Delegation saw me as a fan and not as a serious photographer. Then some members of Wikimedia Sverige managed to explain my intentions and the purpose of my application. When I was finally approved, it meant that I had the same rights as all the other 1700 photographers and journalists at the contest.

Emmelie de Forest after winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2013.

Photo: Albin Olsson

License: CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported

It has been an amazing week, and a very successful project. I took thousands of photos and right now over 500 are uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. They are categorized under: contestants, countries, rehearsals and/or press conferences. All of them are also under the category Photos taken by Albin Olsson during the Eurovision Song Contest 2013. There are close-ups of almost all of the artists, photos of the artists performing their songs on stage, and also videos I filmed.

The 2013 Eurovision Song contest winner was Emmelie de Forest, from Denmark, with her song “Only Teardrops.” My photograph of de Forest has already been used in 36 different languages on Wikipedia, including Japanese and Chinese.

Since non-freely licensed material is not permitted on Wikimedia Commons, I couldn’t upload the songs or videos containing the songs, but I filmed more than 32 clips where 12 of the artists present themselves. All in English, but 11 of them in at least one other language (you can find the videos in the commons category Videos from Eurovision Song Contest 2013 and I might add a few more). It feels really cool that the Wikipedia articles don’t just have a nice photo at the top of their infoboxes, but a short video too.


Wikimedia Commons Profile: Muhammad Mahdi Karim

Pancratium Zeylanicum flower, indigenous to India and islands in the Indian Ocean.

Pancratium Zeylanicum flower, indigenous to India and islands in the Indian Ocean.

Muhammad Mahdi Karim is an avid contributor to Wikimedia Commons and his beautiful photographs have been Featured Pictures and Pictures of the Day, regarded as some of the finest images on the database. Karim describes his motivation for contributing to Wikipedia as the opportunity to share a memory with others.

“If I see something that others may never get to see or be in a place that some may never visit, it would be wasteful of me not to preserve these memories and share them with those who wish to experience them but are unable to do so,” he said. “Photographs help preserve these and Wikipedia provides a platform to share them.”

Karim was born in Moshi, Tanzania, a small town near the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Now, he studies computer science full time in Bangalore, India.

Karim discovered Wikipedia years ago when he mistakenly erased the contents of an entry. However, this simple accident led him back to the online encyclopedia. “I was inspired by seeing pictures of nature on Wikipedia, ” he said. Soon, Karim began uploading his own photos to forums.

Not all feedback was positive, however. “I was not very well-versed with photographic techniques, but after criticism from users, I have improved my skills to both my and Wikipedia’s benefit.”

This ability to change and grow through the use of Wikipedia is, as Karim put it, redefining what it means to be an encyclopedia. “It‘s a community of dedicated users who help one another to improve the content and in the process improve themselves. Today, I have in turn taken a few good pictures and helped to preserve a small part of our world. If others can take inspiration from my work to preserve, protect or improve out world, I will take great pleasure in that.”

Karim said that he’ll continue to contribute to Wikipedia, because, “apart from Google, it’s the only other site I can’t live without anymore. I can do without Youtube and Facebook, but take away Wikipedia and you’ve left me stranded.”

(View more of Karim’s images at his user page here.)

Interview and Profile by Zoe Bernard, Communications Intern

Trithemis Annulata