Penn Institute for Urban Research Photo Contest 2019

Penn Institute for Urban Research Photo Contest 2019

Deadline: April 18, 2019

The Penn Institute for Urban Research invites you to participate in a photo contest on the theme of urban informality. In particular, they 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. They welcome photos that capture informality in any of its many forms, and from any corner of the world.


  • 1st place winner receives $200;
  • Runners up will receive $50 each.

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.


  • The contest is open to the public, including all students;
  • Applicants can be from anywhere in 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 [email protected])

For more inforamtion, visit Penn Institute for Urban Research Photo Contest.