ChiTeen Stories Photo Challenge Winners

How can we see Chicago through a teen's eye?

To answer that question, and to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Chicago Public Library, we created the ChiTeen Stories photo challenge.  All Chicago teens were invited to submit photography that followed one of these three prompts:

  • Photo of Your Community: A photo that captures a Chicago location meaningful to you
  • Show Us Your Spot: An edited photo of your favorite spot at a library branch
  • ChiTown Evolution: A modern day recreation of an historical Chicago or family photo

From these submissions, a group of librarians and professional photographers chose the top three teen portfolios, whose creators won photography equipment to support their continued artistic journey.

Grand Prize Winner: Oliver O.

Prize: Canon DSLR camera kit including camera, shoulder bag, lenses, SD card and PaintShop Pro.

Oliver shot these photos on film using a Minolta XE-7 and is drawn to buildings that "aren't new and shiny and perfect" but "have a history and story to them." Oliver does "very little post-processing of the photos," letting "the character of the photo com[e] from the scene and the film itself." These photos were taken on excursions in Pilsen and Bridgeport.

First Runner Up: Savannah M.

Prize: Paper Shoot Camera and RGB Video Light.

In her photography, Savannah is drawn to "the beauty of things that no one really saw," using a macro focus on everyday objects to highlight their innate splendor. 

Second Runner Up: Kaleb V. 

Prize: Selfie stick, RGB Video Light and phone lenses.

Kaleb's goal is to make the viewer "acknowledge... the insane amount of beauty that can be found on the train tracks of the loop," which "a majority of us often use" as part of the "capitalistic routine" of commuting, "yet we never appreciate the beauty of the roads."

We would like to thank all the teens who submitted portfolios and shared their Chicago perspective with us. We're especially grateful to Ashley Houghton, a professional photographer who helped evaluate the portfolios and has been running teen photography programming at library branches across the city.

The ChiTeen Stories photo challenge was part of a larger photography program called "What's Your Lens?", a project funded through a grant by the Illinois State Library. This initiative provides teens with access to cameras and the skills to capture and share their voice through photo and video.