What is it?
Photovoice is a form of participatory photography and is a collaborative methodology in which often-marginalised or disadvantaged participants are supported to generate their own photographic work in order to share lived experiences and present the world as they see it. In doing so, individuals and communities gain tools and opportunities to create knowledge, understanding and imagery about the issues that are affecting them. By creating alternatives to mainstream modalities of expression, individuals are facilitated to speak, be heard and be seen having previously been excluded.
How does it work?
Initially, a facilitator will work with participants to teach camera and photography techniques as well as deliver fun learning activities to stimulate creative thought around using photos to express emotions and opinions. Participants are then free to photograph aspects of their environment, relationships and daily life as they see fit, and are supported to tell the stories behind their photos. At times these stories can very literal in relation to the images shown, at others they may evoke more symbolic or abstract narratives. Whatever the case, participants choose what they wish to share and develop their own captions.
How did we use it in this project?
ODI called upon the experience and expertise of PhotoVoice, a charity specialising in the delivery of participatory photography programmes, to facilitate participatory photography workshops in Kenya, with orphaned and vulnerable children (OVCs) and Mozambique, with people living with disabilities. As well as being an empowering tool in itself the techniques helped to generate rich insights into the lived experiences of cash transfer beneficiaries. The photographs and the digital stories produced have allowed people all over the world to find out from the individuals themselves, what they think about the money they receive and how it has affected their lives.
Experienced PhotoVoice facilitator, Lucy Williams and ODI’s Hanna Alder travelled to Kenya to run workshops with young people in Kwakavisi (3 hours south of Nairobi) over a two weeks. Twenty children attended from the local area – ten in the morning (10-14 year olds) and ten in the afternoon (14-17 year olds). As orphans and vulnerable children many of them live with carers and extended family. It didn’t take the children long to get technology savvy and they loved taking the cameras home at night. Most of the children made images showing how their lives had changed for the better through the money received, and some explored how they felt their lives would be different if they were not benefiting in this way. A big community celebration was held at the end where the community and family and friends of the participants got to see the work and leave their feedback.
PhotoVoice Project Manager, Matt Daw travelled to Chokwe, a rural town in the province of Gaza in Mozambique to work with adults living with disabilities. Six adults with a range of disabilities attended the introductory workshop, were trained to use the cameras and how to communicate experiences and messages through photographs. Matt then visited each participant in their home over three days, and supporting them to communicate what they felt was important to share about their experience as disabled adults in the community and as recipients of cash transfers. The participants included two wheelchair users, an amputee, a partially deaf man, a man with a neurological condition affecting speech and motor functions, and a blind man. PhotoVoice's Sensory Photography methodology was used to make photography enjoyable and accessible to all - including the blind participant who was at first intrigued to know how he would be able to take part.
Statement of ethics
Ensuring informed consent, protecting the participants’ best interests and promoting their wellbeing at all times were of paramount importance and our principal concerns throughout this project. For more information please refer to the PhotoVoice Statement of Ethical Practice.