Photovoice: Powerful Images That Communicate Current Realities to Direct Social Change

This course presents an overview of photovoice as a participatory qualitative method that provides a way for community members to take and share photographs that express the strengths and needs of their community.  These photographs can be used as a tool to speak to decision makers.

Photovoice is a form of participatory action research that confronts a fundamental research problem: The priorities of professionals, researchers, specialists, and outsiders may completely fail to match what the community thinks is important.  By using cameras, community members document their lives and share their photographs to create powerful visual images that communicate their current realities and envision future realities.

When these images and the stories they tell are presented to a range of stakeholders and decision makers, they can serve as a means of catalyzing community change and assessing root causes to social problems. Because invested parties engage in conversations privileging community members’ priorities, these discussions can stimulate policy—and social change—at local and national levels. At its root, the principles and practices of a community-centered photovoice project align with the principles and goals that guide major theories of inequities in income, health, and social justice.

In addition to addressing the theoretical and political importance of photovoice, the course will also allow participants to engage in a photovoice session to learn how to apply this method within a study and as a tool for evaluation.