Frequently Asked Questions
PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT is a national storytelling initiative that seeks to define what it means to be an American today. To answer this question, PBS and its partners are gathering photo, video and text submissions from an array of Americans. The initiative also includes stories from PBS Digital Studios that will stream as a companion miniseries, a documentary series inspired by user submissions, live event experiences, and educational materials for classrooms across the country.
PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT aims to capture the state and spirit of our nation in a way that only PBS is positioned to do. With our unique access to all Americans, we’re inviting audiences to be heard and to share their stories, through their own words and images.
PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT was inspired in part by Edward Steichen’s historic 1955 exhibition “The Family of Man.” While Steichen’s historic exhibit featured photographs taken around the world by professional photographers, AMERICAN PORTRAIT will consist of videos, photos and text created by the public.
PBS AMERICAN PORTRAIT is a national storytelling initiative that will live across multiple platforms. People across the nation are invited to submit their unique stories by responding to a series of thought-provoking prompts. For each prompt, a user can respond by submitting a video, a photograph, a drawing/illustration or text. Here are the prompts currently being used by the initiative:
- I was raised to believe…
- The tradition I carry on is…
- What keeps me up at night is…
- When I step outside my door…
- Most days I feel…
- I took a risk when…
- The people I relate to are…
- What gets me out of bed in the morning is…
- You don’t know what it’s like to…
- My American story started when…
- My Saturday night looks like…
- My parent(s) wanted me to…
- A day’s work is…
Each user submission will be available once uploaded to the web platform. Submissions will live on the web platform and inspire social media conversations, digital series, and the broadcast documentary series, aimed to premiere on PBS in 2021.
As long as they follow the submission and community guidelines, anyone can submit.
Yes, starting this spring resources will be available on PBS LearningMedia ( https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/ ) to help educators and students engage with digital storytelling and build media literacy skills through American Portrait.
Each person who wants to participate will create an account. Here’s how:
- Tap the Account icon in the main navigation of the homepage. It’s next to the search icon.
- Now you will be on the login page. Since you’re a first time user, select the Register tab and fill in your info.
- Agree to the Terms & Conditions and confirm you’re of age.
- Click Register.
- You’ll get an email from PBS American Portrait to confirm your account. Click on the link in the e-mail, and that will take you back to the Add Your Story screen.
- You’re registered and ready to select a prompt and add your photo, video or text story.
Users between the age of 13-17 must have their parent's or guardian's consent prior to creating a submission. Unfortunately, users younger than 13 are unable to create submissions, but are free to explore and read the stories already up on the site.
Magic link is a secure, convenient alternative to passwords. After you sign up or login, an email will be sent to you containing a link. Clicking on this link will automatically verify your account and log you in.
By way of awesome code magic, we will be pulling your zip code data into our system, so that we can display your story(ies) on our interactive map. Feeling concerned? Safety is a top priority for the PBS American Portrait team and we will never share your exact location.
Yes, in order to submit a story you need to create an account using your email. The stories you submit will be saved in the 'My Stories' tab in your Account.
If your forgot your email or need to update the one you previously used to sign up please contact support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From your Account, you can manage stories you have created, view stories you favorited and add another submission.
The login icon is located in the main navigation bar on the upper right hand side of the Homepage. Once you are logged in the icon will turn green.
Logout is located on your Account page.
If you are having trouble logging in:
- Check that your email address is correct.
- Your magic link may have expired (the magic link expires within an hour).
- Make sure you have only used your magic link once.
*If this is not the case please contact support at email@example.com
There are a few places on the site where you can add your story.
From the Homepage:
- You'll see an 'Add Your Story' button on the top right of the homepage.
- When you click on the button to add your story, you'll see a list of prompts.
- Choose the prompt you'd like to use.
- Tap Next and follow the steps to upload the media of your choice.
From a prompt band (Choose this option to respond to a particular prompt):
- Select the prompt you want to answer (A prompt is a suggested story line such as: I was raised to believe... or The tradition I carry on....)
- At the end of the prompt sentence you'll notice a plus sign (+) in the upper right corner.
- Tap the (+) and select the type of media you want to use for your submission.
From the Account page:
- Tap on the Account icon in the upper right on the homepage. If you are logged in it will be green.
- Navigate to the Account tab and you will see a button to Add Your Story.
We encourage you to be creative and share your unique story that specifically responds to the prompt you've selected. You can also submit multiple stories in response to different prompts! Before getting started, we recommend reading through our Submission Guidelines.
If you are having trouble uploading, check to make sure you have a strong internet connection. If the upload stalls, please reload the page and try again.
You're welcome to share your story, and to encourage others to participate in the project by submitting theirs too! We'll provide links to post to Twitter & Facebook, to send via email, and to copy/paste into a browser. If you'd like to share your post on Instagram, please upload it directly through the Instagram app (unfortunately Instagram does not allow uploads from other websites). Please use the hashtag #AmericanPortraitPBS to help tie all of these stories together.
All submissions to PBS American Portrait go through our moderation process. If there are no issues (technical or other), your story will be live on the website and viewable through search and on the map; your story may also be featured in other American Portrait experiences including social, books, podcasts, exhibits, a broadcast television documentary series, and more.
Yes, you can answer as many as you like!
Deleting Your Story:
- Navigate to the account page and click the 'Go to Account Page' button.
- Select the 'My Stories' tab, find the story you would like to delete, click on the three dots located to the right on the story.
- Click 'yes' to confirm you would like to delete your story. Your story will be removed from the site and your 'My Stories' tab.