Submissions:2024/WikiPortraits: Transforming the Wikipedia photo desert into a green oasis

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This submission has been noted and is pending review for WikiConference North America 2024.


WikiPortraits: Transforming the Wikipedia photo desert into a green oasis

Type of session:


Session theme(s):

Community Engagement, GLAM (Galleries/Libraries/Archives/Museums), Wild Ideas


We will be hosting a panel discussion on the critical issue of missing or low-quality images on Wikipedia's biographies. With millions of monthly views, Wikipedia's global reach demands visually engaging content. However, many biographical entries on Wikipedia lack quality portraits due to stringent requirements for Creative Commons licensing or public domain. This issue has been widely recognized for years, even inspiring a dedicated @badwikiphotos account on Instagram.

We will discuss systematic approaches and efforts to address these shortcomings, including those covered at Wiki Covers Events. Volunteer photographers from the German-language Wikipedia have pioneered event and portrait photography for the past several years with projects like "Festivalsommer", "Landtagsprojekt", "Berlinale-Projekt", and press photography. Wikimedia photographers from the United States have also contributed press photos, and began WikiPortraits in 2024 as a new initiative to fill visual gaps on Wikipedia by systematically covering events such as the Sundance Film Festival, South by Southwest (SXSW), International Journalism Festival, and Cannes Film Festival.

While the coverage of SXSW 2024 was a U.S.-based effort, the photos filled a global need – the images were incorporated into more than 60 Wikipedia language editions for an estimated 4 million monthly views. Sundance images contributed another 500,000 views per month.

This panel will gather the founders of WikiPortraits to share their learnings. Panelists will discuss the process of media credentialing and ways to recruit volunteer photographers. It will provide practical tips for photographers and for those interested in creating pop-up photo studios.

We will also discuss how affiliates can support photographers for press accreditation, reimbursement of travel expenses, and the loan of camera technology.

These efforts are an important step to make Wikipedia less of a "desert for photos" (Noam Cohen in The New York Times) in topic areas that repeatedly generate an enormous volume of page-views.

Author name(s):

Kevin Payravi, Andrew Lih, Jennifer 8. Lee, Frank Schulenberg

Wikimedia username(s):

SuperHamster, Fuzheado, Jenny8lee, Frank Schulenburg

E-mail address:

Affiliated organization(s):


Able to attend without scholarship?


Estimated length of session

60 minutes

Will you be presenting remotely?

Okay to livestream?

Livestreaming is okay

Previously presented?

Not yet, but applied to present at Wikimania 2024

Special requests: