Penn IUR 2018-2019 Photo Contest: Why Cities?

The Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) is pleased to announce a year-long photo contest that explores the question “why cities?” The contest, in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania’s Academic Theme Year, will highlight a series of urban topics including urban greening, energy efficiency, and affordable housing. With more than 80% of the human population projected to live in cities by 2050, the contest aims to highlight the importance of understanding the various facets of urban life.

Each month of this academic year, Penn IUR will announce an urban topic and accept photo submissions that explore that topic. Each month’s theme is intended as a motivation to think about cities, but participants are encouraged to post photos related to any of the themes, or any urban issue, throughout the year. For the month of September, we ask participants to submit images that relate to urban greening and address the question: “Why do cities need green spaces?” Each month’s theme will be announced on Twitter and Facebook.

                                  Submissions will be accepted September 1, 2018 - April 15, 2019

                                  Prizes: 1st place = $200; Runners up = $50 each.

To enter: Participants should tweet their image to Penn IUR (@PennIUR), using the hashtag #ThisIsWhyCities, and include a short description of the photo, as well as the date and location that the photo was taken. For those who do not use social media, submissions can be emailed to

The contest is open to the public, and submissions will be judged by a panel of urban experts. Winners will be announced in May. Please direct any questions to Laura Barron at or 215.573.8386. And, don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


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 and 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.

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