What is Photovoice?

*This page is under construction*

As a form of participatory research, Photovoice engages community members as co-researchers, involved at every stage of the research process, from research question development to analysis and dissemination. The SHOWeD technique is one way to conduct participatory analysis.

A Research Method

Photovoice is a research methodology that aims to enable people:

1) to identify and record their personal and community strengths and concerns;

2) to engage in critical dialogue about them;

3) and to communicate these strengths and concerns to policy makers

(Wang & Burris, 1997).

Frequently Asked Questions

“A researcher who is willing to learn how to ‘stand with’ a community of subjects is willing to be altered, to revise her stakes in the knowledge to be produced.”

(TallBear, 2014, pg. 2)

Why use Photovoice?

Photovoice is a participatory research method which values lived experiences as sources of knowledge.

It engages "participants" as co-researchers, attempting to decrease the divide between research and subject.

Is Photovoice real research?

The short answer is yes. Photovoice has been recognized in many academic circles as a useful research method, particularly when working with marginalized groups. It's participatory and arts-based nature does not reduce the need for a rigorous approach to research. As with any method, it should be done well and systematically.

Photovoice does present some unique challenges to the research process. For a discussion on these challenges, please see McKinsey & Pruitt, forthcoming.

How do I start my own Photovoice project?

Ask your partners.

First, ask your potential research partners if Photovoice would be a useful method for addressing their concerns in their community.

Search the web.

Many resources exist on the web. You can find manuals and handouts from PV projects available open-access on the web.

Ask for help.

Reach out to researchers who have conducted their own projects - particularly those researchers who have worked with similar issues or communities.

Check the literature.

Reading through the method sections of academic articles detailing Photovoice projects can be useful when determining what approach to take.

Be flexible.

Maybe Photovoice does not end up being a good fit. Thankfully, other participatory methods exist. Be willing to revise your plan in line with community needs.