Participatory visual methods such as ‘photo-voice’, originally created for use within community action research, have seen a sustained increase in use across the social sciences and humanities. Participatory photo methods generally provide participants with the tools to create photographic data in accordance with research themes, or pertinent local social issues that participants and project leaders are looking to change. Within photo-voice, this usually involves a researcher giving participants cameras to have them photograph different elements of their lives or everyday experiences alongside seeking their participation or direction at other stages of the research, such as during the project design phase or in the latter stages of data analysis.
Proponents of photo-voice methods suggest that the method promotes empowerment within research, by allowing participants to create, select and analyse their own data, therefore developing a critical consciousness regarding the issues worked on and providing a creative outlet for communicating opinions and sharing stories of their lives. Photo-elicitation methods also utilise photography as an intermediary in research, however the focus is on photos as a tool to generate discussion within interviews, and the photography is produced by the researcher, rather than the participant (Shaw, 2020).
Photovoice has been used to engage marginalised populations, such as homeless young women in health research (Phipps et al, 2020), by providing opportunities to express their social experiences through a participatory photography project, exhibition and report aimed at policymakers.
Newcastle University is home to the Geography, Politics and Sociologies Visualities Research Group, find out more here.
The Centre for Learning and Teaching also work on several innovative methodologies including visual methodologies and co-production, find out more here.
Phipps, M., Dalton, L., Maxwell, H., and Cleary, M., (2020). Combining Self-Determination Theory and Photo-Elicitation to Understand the Experiences of Homeless Women. Issues in Mental Health Nursing. DOI: 10.1080/01612840.2020.1789785
Shaw, P.A., (2020). Photo-elicitation and photo-voice: using visual methodological tools to engage with younger children’s voices about inclusion in education. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, DOI: 10.1080/1743727X.2020.1755248