Photo voice method to study your life and community. With pictures you can express your feelings, views, hopeas and fears. With viewing pictures together you can share your views and express your message to your community members.

What is photo voice?

Photo voice was developed by researchers from Michigan University. Method is participatory visula sociology and/or social pedagogy.

The idea of photo voice is to give a voice to those of the community who do not have it. To enhance and promote social action by “showing” how for example young (or old or immigrants or other selected focus group) see their community. Typically photo voice focuses on community concerns and/or community assets. The idea is that how community concerns could be addressed and improved and how to make use of community assets to best possible way.

Process includes:

Preparation: Inviting participants to be involved in the project  under a theme which is shared. The theme can be a narrow one (like my future after 5 years) or a more wider one (community concerns and assets). The more flexible the them, the more freedom participants have.

Preparing for photographing: Some guidance for taking photos is needed, but method is not a photographic education course. Ethics of photographing is important: From what can you take photos – permit and consent or photos from topics that are public e.g. scenery or public events, things etc. Photo voice project ends up in and exhibition so photo ethics is important.

Photographic sessions: The themes are discussed and participants can take photos either individually or in pairs. Then photos are shared – e.g. so that each pair selects most important photos that they later want to work on – in their own group. In the course this was done in country groups first. Photos can be printed to size A4.

The themes in January intensive in Finland included: me and my future, community assets and community concerns. These photos taken beforehand were shared and discussed.

After discussion and sharing, groups (multicultural) selected photos which best represented of what their common views were. These were printed out in big size, A4, and a photo exhibition was organized. Captions were written to each photo by participants.

Photo voice process in Mamyfu was a “miniversion” of usually a longer process. But still, it introduced photographing as a method and encouraged young people to share their thoughts. Someone said, that he/she learned to look at photos in a different way than before.

What were the common assets found? Nature, friendship, family… And the community concerns: rush, pollution, environmental problems, loneliness…

Similar challenges all around the Baltic Sea.

Material about photovoice:

In English: