Help » FAQ » Photo Submission


What about rights? Do I give them up?

Not at all! Capture My Chicago is not a rights grab. Photographers control how their photos are used by opting in to specific uses for their photos. You will not find any blanket statements in our terms, which means photographers can be certain where and when their photos will be used. You also won't find any terminology like "in perpetuity" or "exclusive" in our terms of service, which means we never own the rights to your photo -- you're simply lending us rights for specific uses, and submitting your photo does not preclude you from using it in any way you see fit in the future.

What about attribution? I want my credit!

We understand, and we agree. Everyone deserves proper recognition for their contribution. In publications, in promotion and on the website, your photo will always be credited to you. In addition, we provide a way for you to promote your website and your photography services on the your profile. Folks who like your work in printed products can seek out your name on the Capture My Chicago site and order your prints (if you have that setup) or get in touch with you.

Why can't I upload?

There are a few common situations that could be causing issues with our uploader. Our upload utility uses a small Flash interaction to allow you to select and upload multiple photos at once. Many of the problems stem from a user either not having Adobe's Flash Player, not having an up-to-date Flash Player, or having some sort of Flash blocking extension or plugin turned on in their browser. Beyond that, sometimes we make changes to our website code, and because browsers are smart and cache files so that you don't have to wait and download them each time, your browser may be using an old version of a javascript or style file that we have updated. Please try the list of suggestions below if you are having troubles with uploading.

If you are having troubles with our "transfer from Flickr" feature, these will not apply, and you should contact us.

  • Download and install the latest version of Adobe Flash Player
  • Disable any Flash or ad blocking extensions, plugins, or toolbars you have installed
  • Clear your browser's cache and restart your browser (How?)

Why can't I see my photo?

In order for your photo to be publicly viewable it needs to have the required fields filled out. The required fields on a photo that you have uploaded are:

  • Caption
  • Category
  • Place

You can edit a photo at any time by clicking on the edit button on that photo's page, or you can batch edit all of your photos by going to the edit photos page.

Please note: we cache lists of photos in various spots around the site which means it may take up to 30 minutes for your photo to appear in category lists and so on. As long as your photo has been saved with the above information, it will show up in a matter of 15-30 minutes.

What's a pixel, and how do I know if I have enough of them?

A pixel is a unit of measurement. It's what computers use to measure image sizes. We don't require your photos have a certain number of pixels, but if you want your photo picked for publications, it needs to be high resolution.

With that as the preface, it would be best to upload images of at least 2000 pixels on its longest side. To find out how many pixels your image has, open it in a photo editing, or photo viewing application. Most applications should have a straightforward menu system which should lead you to "image dimensions," "image size," or "get info." Once there, you should see the width and height of your image in pixels.

Bigger (or more pixels) is always better, so just upload the largest available version of your photo. We will accept all photos (even really small ones), but a photo is more likely to end up published in publications if it's bigger.

Do my photos have to be taken here?

Yes. This is a community of folks looking for the best of the Chicago area in photography, so photos should be from the Chicago area. It doesn't matter where you are from, but all photos should be of the Chicago area. When you submit a photo, we ask you where it was taken. It's an honor system, but we allow users to report a photo if it's not from the area. This "must be taken from here" policy is self-policing. We let the users' reports and votes weed out ones that shouldn't be here.

How much post-processing can I do to my photos?

Art is subjective, so ultimately it's up to you. That said, our editors prefer photos to digital art. When editors are picking photos for challenge winners, publications and so on, they are likely to skip over submissions that look like they came from photo-editing software instead of a camera.

For example, if you're trying to catch en editor's eye, don't turn your photo of a dog into a photo of a dog with a cape, saving a kitten from a tree. Don't spend 45 minutes in your photo editing application making an unrealistic scene. Don't make your photo look like a painting. Don't drop items into your photo that weren't there in the natural scene. Just don't mess with it too much. Use your own judgement but remember that other people and the editors have the ultimate call, and they're not going to vote for or pick a photo that doesn't look like a photo.

Cropping, toning, contrast, removal of dust spots are all examples of appropriate digital enhancement. Note: we do have a special category for HDR imagery if you're into that sort of thing.

Should I upload one photo multiple times and put them in different categories?

No, you shouldn't. Each photo can be entered in one category, and one category alone. Now if you've got a photo that's a little different and you want to put that in another category, that's fine, just don't upload the same photo more than once.

Should I embed a color profile?

We don't require it because most folks don't know what a color profile is. However, if you know what one is and you're looking to convert your image to a certain profile, we'd love to have it in sRGB. This isn't necessary if you don't know what a color profile is.

Will you edit my photo info?

We'd prefer not to, but if we want to use your photo in a product, we will be looking for grammar and spelling mistakes. We're human, too. It happens to us just like it does you. Otherwise, we won't be changing the information about your photo. We'd ask that you pay special attention to the details in your captions. If your caption tells us your photo is of your cousin Sally, we pretty much have to believe you. So far as the details of your photo, if at all possible, the caption you give us will appear "as-is" if your photo is selected for a product or publication. If your caption is too long, or redundant, or has parts that are not applicable to the photo, we may cut it down.

What about people photos and releases? Are famous people okay?

Photos of people in a public square are okay without any kind of release. Photos of family and friends are usually okay, but get their permission first. We probably can't publish models and famous people in a product or publication without their consent, but go ahead and post photos if you have them. Let us worry about the rights and such. If our lawyers feel we need to get in touch with the famous person or model, we will get ahold of you and make arrangements.

How do I submit a new photo?

You can submit a new photo from file (on your computer) or by transferring from Flickr (if you have an account there). Either way, all metadata (IPTC) data that exists in your photo will be transfered as well to make caption input super easy.

What are the guidelines for photo submission?

There are few hard-and-fast rules that must be followed, they are:

  • JPEG format.
  • You must be the photographer and have rights to upload the photo.
  • No nudity.
  • Taken within the Chicago area.

If you see a photo that doesn't follow these rules, be sure to report it (click the "report" link on the bottom-right of the photo's page).

In addition to the rules, to help guide the community of Capture My Chicago users, we have a few submission guidelines. These guidelines aren't rules, but we'd prefer you honor them. Our editors are fairly unlikely to pick photos that don't adhere to these guidelines:

  • No borders.
  • No obtrusive text (or watermarks) on photo.
  • No collages.
  • No enlargements. Just upload your photo in its original size.
  • No heavy digital manipulations (fake items in photo, isolations, etc.).
  • No non-photos (like drawings, paintings, and screen shots).

What is the size indicator when uploading?

The size indicator tells you how big each photo could run in print, if chosen for a product or publication. We print things at 300dpi, which means we need your original photo files. The size indicator is no guarantee that it would run at any particular size, but we thought it would be helpful to show you the potential size it could run.

What kind of caption are you looking for?

A good one. It takes a lot to write a caption, and we hope you're up to the challenge. Try to be concise but get everything relevant in. Be descriptive and pithy. Try to use proper grammar, punctuation, etc. We know everyone won't be perfect, so just do your best.

What category should I submit my photo to?

Picking the right category is super important. People usually browse photos by category because they are interested in a particular subject. If you submit your photo to an incorrect category, a voter may not dig your photo just because it's not what they wanted to look at, even if it's a great photo. We have a wide range of categories, so you should be able to find the right one for your photo.

How many photos can I submit?

While we don't have a cap on the total number of photos you can submit to Capture My Chicago, we do set a limit on how many photos you can upload within a 7-day period to 20. This is a rolling 7 days, meaning that if you were to upload 5 photos today, then use the remainder of your uploads tomorrow, you would regain 5 uploads 7 days from now, and then 15 again 8 days from now. The idea is to encourage you to upload your best photos a few at a time, every few days. If you submit photos that way, your photos will be seen by all sort of different folks on different days. Plus, 20 photos per week works out to about 80 photos per month or 1,040 photos per year!

The reason for this limit is simple: we want to see your best photos. We encourage you to personally curate your collection of photos so your Capture My Chicago profile showcases who you are as a photographer. After all, our goal is to find the best of the Chicago area, so let's start with your best. We want your best photos to compete against other users' best, and may the best of the best win!

What's required for the place field?

Places are proper names of towns within the Chicago area. When uploading a photo, start typing the name of a proper proper town and the results will pop up. Select the correct town name from the matching list. Please note: we use Yahoo's GeoPlaces API to determine valid town names within the Chicago area. We are working to improve this system. If you don't see the town name you're trying to enter, please pick one as close as possible. We hope to have an improved places system soon!