There are many ways that Critiki’s members pitch in to make Critiki what it is. The ratings, of course; the comments; spreading the word about Critiki. The most visible contribution, and the one I personally get to see most closely, are your pictures.
Every picture added to Critiki goes through a quick review process, where I annotate what’s in the image (so it can appear in the right Picture Albums), and massage the caption a bit. In previous years, this review process could take a long time. I’ve made some big improvements, and now pictures are typically approved and visible within minutes (but I do have to sleep, so sometimes it might be a few hours).
(Here’s an article I wrote with tips for getting great pictures for Critiki.)
Critiki’s members have added over 2,500 photos to the locations in Critiki just in the last year. Whoa!
Every picture added to Critiki feels like opening a wonderful gift from you:
A vintage photo of patrons in a Polynesian restaurant is like getting…
a mint condition ’50s Studebaker convertible
These come through only very rarely, and when it happens, I go bananas! Look at that! Her elaborate bouffant, her shimmery handbag, her earrings dangling like glamour cherries, their pedestaled appetizers, the miniature tiki table lamp, their plastic leis, hers tangled up in her bow, the scene encased in tapa and bamboo. All dressed up for a very special night on the town—prom, perhaps? They don’t quite look old enough to drink, do they? These are the pictures that bring history to life. Critiki only gets maybe, I don’t know, two? three? of these a year. And yet, the photo above came in as I was drafting this very article! Ksasmith, you made my Christmas, mahalo!
A vintage postcard from a Polynesian restaurant is like getting…
a dream vacation to the South Pacific
There is simply nothing better for showing the golden age of Polynesian restaurants than vintage postcards. These showcase Tiki at its best. Interiors, exteriors, all presented in vibrant Technicolor, beckoning you to step right into the scene, find a table, and settle in for a magic evening. There’s nothing more in the world I’d like to do. (I’m pretty sure Critiki member Dustycajun has contributed more vintage ephemera than anyone else. Dustycajun, you make my heart sing.)
A scan or photo of vintage swizzles, matchbooks, menus, napkins, tiki mugs is like getting…
a seven-foot-tall tiki
Souvenirs: they just don’t make ’em like they used to. Long before “branding” became a buzzword, golden era tiki joints had the art down. These pieces of physical history weren’t meant to last decades, but thank goodness they have. All these little bits of vintage art just make me swoon. The illustrations! The colors! The logos! The tikis!
A photo showing a clear, wide view of the interior of a tiki bar is like getting…
a fat gift certificate from Oceanic Arts
Modern-day tiki bars don’t make postcards showing off their best angles anymore. That means we need to take matters into our own hands, and get some shots to show other tikiphiles what the space is all about. When it comes to modern photographs, these are by far my favorites.
(Bar owners: if you have professional beauty shots of your place, goodness gracious, add those puppies to your Critiki listing!)
A photo showing what a tiki bar looks like from the street is like getting…
These photos are not just great documentation. They are a huge help—they let folks know what to look for on their first visit.
A photo capturing some beautiful little detail in a tiki bar is like getting…
a vintage tiki mug
Once the general interior and exterior is covered, it’s great to capture some of the details that make a place special: a gorgeous carving, an interesting lamp, a dramatic mural.
A scan or photo of modern swizzles, matchbooks, menus, napkins, tiki mugs is like getting…
Martin Denny on vinyl
Though the artwork isn’t often on the same level as the best of the vintage pieces, tiki bars of today are getting better about creating their own custom ephemera and souvenirs. Sometimes these teeniest of details make the biggest impact for guests. I love when we get a nice, clear photo that lets these items have their own spotlight for a moment.
A photo of the back of the bar in a tiki bar is like getting…
This is an easy picture to get if you’ve just made a beeline to the bar without stopping to get pictures first… so there are a lot of them. The back of the bar tends to be fairly uninteresting space, though: it’s mostly bottles.
A picture of your drink is like getting…
Sorry, gang. I’m drowning in drink pictures. Everyone needs socks, so it’s not that these won’t get used. I’m grateful to have them! And I understand why there are so many: it’s by far the easiest picture to grab. No need to even look up at the room, much less leave your seat. But you only need so many pairs of socks, you know? Oof. So many drink pictures.
A picture of you and your friends in a tiki bar is like getting…
a gift I can’t use and feel terrible having to throw away
I can’t use these on Critiki for a few reasons. The images in Critiki are intended to showcase the locations, and if people are front-and-center, it shifts that focus. Also, I don’t want anyone to be surprised that a photo of them enjoying a cast-the-cares-of-the-world-away evening showed up on some website without them knowing.
A picture saved from some other place on the internet is like getting…
I can’t accept stolen goods. It breaks my heart! I know it’s well-intentioned. If you see an incredible picture out there and you want it in Critiki (hoo boy, I know that feeling!), the better move is to contact the person the picture belongs to, and ask them to add it to Critiki.
Related, and speaking now to those of you who have amazing collections or really primo photos but don’t add them to Critiki: I tend to not ask people individually to add their pictures to Critiki, even though there’s not much in the world that would bring me more happiness. It’s because I don’t want to make you feel guilty, or feel like you’re doing it to get me off your back. I want Critiki to be a joy for you. But I secretly extra super want you to add your pictures to Critiki.
Mahalo nui loa to every Critiki member who added pictures to Critiki this year. You make Critiki beautiful.
Want some tips for getting great pictures for Critiki? Read on!