ChiTeen Stories: Photo Challenge For Teens

Calling all teens: CPL is celebrating 150 years and we want you to celebrate with us. We want to know what the library and/or community means to you - share your ChiTeen Story through our photo challenge!

Starting in May, Chicago teens 13-19 are invited to submit an original work to win prizes through the month of July. Each month there will be a different prompt. Every applicant will have the opportunity to win prizes, with the grand prize being a DSLR Camera Kit. Submissions will also be considered for a future photography exhibition at Harold Washington Library.

This project is made possible by a grant from the Illinois State Library, a Department of the Office of Secretary of State, using funds provided by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).

Challenge Details

Who: High school students between 13 to 19 who live in Chicago.
What: Submit a portfolio of one to three original photographs created in the past two years, along with an artist statement. Incorporate the challenge prompt theme(s) into your work.
When: Submit your work for the July prompt by August 12. Winners will be announced in August.
Where: Complete the form below.

Submission Guidelines

Allowable mediums: The portfolio will be comprised of original photographs that incorporate the challenge themes into the work.

Artist Statement: The artist statement should give insight into both you and your work using 250 words or less. What do you wish to tell people that would guide their viewing and deepen understanding of your work? Some prompts to consider:

  • Discuss the meaning/intention behind your artistic choices and the overall piece
  • Write about your creative process and your goals for the future

Presentation Tips: Please submit your art using a professional format.

  • .jpgs are preferred for processing reasons, but .png and .pdf files are also acceptable.
  • Title your image file with your name and the name of the piece, if possible.

Evaluation Process: Submissions will be judged by a panel of Chicago Public Library staff. Evaluation will be based on the thoughtfulness of the artist statement, the passion to create, the artistic merit of the piece(s) and the relevance to the provided prompts. Ask your local teen library staff member for help with any of these components.

July Prompt: ChiTown Evolution

Pick a photograph of Chicago from Chicago Public Library’s Digital Collection, Chicago Collections Consortium or your family photo album. Using the photograph as a reference, restage it in the present day. Identify what has changed and what has stayed the same.

Note: many images included in CPL's Digital Collections and the Chicago Archive Consortium have special requirements for use of their images. When looking for images online, take note of the rights associated with the images that you select and information needed to showcase your work. If you have questions, feel free to email the Teen Services Department at

We have created a list of 15 search terms of historic landmarks that you can look up to help you get started. Feel free to explore on your own and search by your neighborhood, local parks or local newspaper. Your neighborhood is full of hidden treasures waiting to be explored.

  • Chicago World’s Fair or World’s Columbian Exposition
  • Millenium Park or Millenium Park Construction
  • Cloud Gate
  • Chicago Theatre
  • Jackson Park
  • Grant Park
  • Chicago RiverWalk
  • Michigan Ave. or Magnificent Mile
  • Loop
  • Field Museum
    • Museum of Science and Industry
  • Adler Planetarium
  • Lake Front
  • Garfield Park Conservatory
  • University of Chicago
  • Aragon Ballroom and Uptown Theater
  • Emil Bach House
  • 18th Street (Pilsen)
  • Sox Stadium

Interested in learning more about Chicago History? Request an appointment to visit CPL’s Archives and Special Collections Department in person.

Submit your artwork using the form below by August 12. By submitting this portfolio, you authorize Chicago Public Library to post a copy of your work with first name, last initial attribution in the Chicago Public Library collection as well as on our website, social media channels and other marketing initiatives.

This form is no longer accepting submissions.