Photovoice is a participatory action research methodology based on the idea that people are experts on their own lives. It employs photography and group dialogue as a means for marginalised individuals to deepen their understanding of a community issue or concern. The visual images and accompanying stories are the tools used to reach and influence policy and decision makers.
The three main goals of Photovoice are:
1) to enable people to record and reflect their community’s strengths and concerns;
2) to promote critical dialogue and knowledge about personal and community
issues, through discussions and photographs; and
3) to reach and influence policy makers.
The Photovoice methodology was used for the first time by Wang and Burris in the early 1990s. It was developed to ‘create opportunities for those who are marginalised, as it allows them to actively participate in enhancing their communities by giving them the chance to tell their stories and have their voices heard. Equipped with a camera, individuals can create photographic evidence and symbolic representations to help others see the world through their eyes.’
Apart from providing insight into their lives, taking photographs has an empowering effect on participants. Photovoice asks community members – in the ‘Welcome to My Life!’ persons with disabilities – to take on the role of photographer, who not only has the responsibility of capturing photographic evidence, but also becomes co-researcher, responsible for data collection, data analysis and sharing of research findings.
Both data collection and data analysis is done by participants and facilitated by a Photovoice facilitator. The group discussions to have a critical dialogue about the photographs taken involves a number of stages:
|Selecting||Choosing those photographs that most accurately reflect the target group’s assets and concerns in daily life||Selection of photographs that are considered most significant or simply liked the best|
|Contextualizing||Telling stories about what the photographs mean||Storytelling according to the acronym VOICE (Voicing Our Individual and Collective Experience)|
|Codifying||Identifying the issues, themes or theories that emerge||Codifying of three types of dimensions:
– themes and patterns