Penn IUR Photo Contest on Urban Informality – until 18 April 2019

Deadline: 18 April 2019. The Penn Institute for Urban Research invites you to participate in a photo contest on the theme of urban informality. In particular, we are interested in photos that capture the ways that people in urban areas create or use informal systems to survive and thrive. Photos might highlight one or multiple aspects of informality—in housing, work, transportation, food production, education—or any other facet or facets of urban life.

Informality is economic or social activity that takes place outside of formally regulated structures. Such activities are not necessarily illegal, though they may be. Some simply exist outside of the framework of a given country’s codified laws. While informality is often discussed in the context of developing countries as in unregulated labor markets, small-scale commercial enterprises, subsistence farming or slum dwellings, it also operates in the world’s richest and most developed countries. In the U.S. for example, unlicensed food trucks or street vendors are ubiquitous on some city streets, and homeowners hold furniture sales in their front yards.

We welcome photos that capture informality in any of its many forms, and from any corner of the world.

To enter: Tweet your image to Penn IUR (@PennIUR). Include a short description of the photo, the date and location of photo, and the hashtag #IURPhotoComp. (If you do not use social media, email your submission to
Additional information:

The contest is open to the public.
Submissions will be judged by a panel of urban experts.
Winners will be announced on April 24 at the event “Why Cities? Roundtable on Informality as a Way of Life: Challenges to Sustainable Urban Development” at the University of Pennsylvania.
All entrants should be mindful of ethical considerations of photographing vulnerable populations. See below for additional ethics information and criteria.

Ethical considerations: Respect for your subjects and the communities you are documenting should always be your first consideration when taking photographs. Culturally sensitive photography requires:

considering the emotional, psychological, political, economic, cultural, social or physical circumstances of your subject before taking a photograph;
asking for consent before taking a photo;
taking into consideration privacy and confidentiality; and
giving respect and context to images.
For more specific guidance on culturally sensitive photography visit the UNC Ethical Photography website. For additional information about general ethical guidelines for photographers, read the National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics.

File Submission: In order to ensure high quality reproduction, we will require larger versions of the winning photos. Participants must be able to submit a high-resolution version of their photograph upon request.

Editing: All photos must be your original work. Collage, cropping, and use of software such as Photoshop is permitted.

Copyright: By entering the contest, you acknowledge that the submitted photo is an original work created solely by you, that the photo does not violate, plagiarize or infringe on the copyrights, trademarks, database, moral rights, rights of privacy/publicity or intellectual property rights of any person or entity, and that no other party has any right, title, claim, or interest in the photo. You will retain all copyrights over the image, and the image will be attributed to you when used.

Usage Rights: By entering the contest, all entrants grant Penn IUR its affiliated publications an unrestricted, perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to publish, reproduce, display, distribute and create derivative works of the entries (along with a name credit). Penn IUR will not be required to seek any additional approval in connection with such use.


1st place = $200
Runners up = $50 each

Winners will be announced and winning photos exhibited on April 24 at the event “Why Cities? Roundtable on Informality as a Way of Life: Challenges to Sustainable Urban Development” at the University of Pennsylvania.

Photo Contest Website: