Methods, Tools & Techniques
Methods, Tools and Techniques are ways of gathering data and collecting the information to learn what changes have happened.
PhotoVoice is a research method in which participants take pictures to illustrate their situations. They photograph things that are important to them and record changes.
PhotoVoice lets people define for themselves what parts of a programme or service are worth keeping and what needs to be changed. They can show their photographic records to others, including policy makers.
PhotoVoice is commonly used in community development, public health and education, around the world.
In Aotearoa New Zealand PhotoVoice has been used by youth groups, health and social service providers and local authorities. It helps them to demonstrate the impact that something has had on members of the community, a particular group or programme participants.
PhotoVoice tries to bring the perspectives of those who live in the community to those who traditionally have been in charge and mix it into policy-making.
PhotoVoice makes use of the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.
How it Works
The researchers or evaluators provide cameras to people concerned with an issue (such as youth drinking) or who are clients of a service, or programme participants.
Researchers ask participants to represent their communities, or express their points of view, by photographing scenes to illustrate dominant themes.
Themes may include:
- Community concerns.
- Their experience of something.
- What they like or don’t like.
- Community assets.
- Health barriers and supports.
- The good or bad results of a project, event or public facility.
In this paper by Glenis Mark and Amohia Boulton (2017) they describe the steps to indigenizing PhotoVoice as a tool, focusing on three cultural adaptation steps:
Advantages of Photovoice
- Interactive and easy to use.
- Supports qualitative discussion.
- Captures evidence –data that is rich and meaningful to participants and funders.
- Develops community skills and understanding.
- Can be empowering and transformative for participants.
- Consistent with tikanga Māori processes and oral traditions – draws on images, metaphors, whakatauki, storytelling.
- A way of looking at and understanding things from the perspective, gaze and heart of the ones capturing the image – evaluator lens.
- Supports participants to bring to life the important things they wish to say, in their own words – participants’ lens.
- Promotes reflective thinking.
- It is inexpensive.
Limitations of Photovoice
- Some people distrust cameras or don’t like taking or being in photos.
- Participants may use images to misrepresent a situation or viewers may misinterpret an image.
- Understanding – some ‘get’ the concept of PhotoVoice more quickly than others.
- It can take a lot longer than in-depth interviews and focus groups.
- Can take a lot of resources if used with large groups, compared with focus groups.
- Safety and ethical issues are critical as self-disclosure may occur and facilitators need to be able to manage situations where safety and emotional wellbeing is at stake.
Who uses it?
- Whānau Ora providers use it.
- Evaluators and researchers use it.
- In Aotearoa it has been used mainly with children and young people:
- An exhibition of photos and poems completed by youth from several communities in Aotearoa New Zealand in partnership with the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.
- A school in the Hawkes Bay region employed PhotoVoice as a means of engaging students and understanding their experience of the school.