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Using Photovoice principles

Posted by Andrea Lewis

Written by Sonal Kantaria.

Using Photovoice principles

I will be using the Photovoice principle in working with young people from Streetwork Aboriginal Corporation. In our case, I will be using Photovoice as a way for young people to turn the camera on themselves and, through self-portraits and exploring their relationship to place, create a kind of visual autobiography.

Self-expression and record-making
Photographs create instant and permanent records. Many of us do this in our everyday lives: we create tracks for ourselves through photos, diaries, videos, etc. When you’re uprooted from one place to another the need to do this can be even stronger. Photographs can be built into histories and albums that reflect a current life and period of time.

Dialogue and conversation
Photographs can facilitate discussion by creating distance between the photographer and a subject of conversation. A photographer can talk around a subject, via the medium of an image, rather than directly. This depersonalisation can help someone who might want to talk but finds it difficult.

Through discussion and dialogue photography enables learning about the world around us, and about each other. Engaging in photo projects and viewing and talking about each others’ photographs enables conversation about diverse topics from family to religion, relationships to dreams. In examining and discussing what an image communicates and means, opinions are voiced and shared and understandings develop. It is also an effective way to become familiar with the other students in the group. During the workshop, the young people were divided into pairs and asked to work together to build a photo narrative of their day taking into consideration the various elements that make up a Photostory.

Creating a photo essay is a combination of art and journalism. As with a written essay, the elements of a photo essay should be structured in a way that easily conveys a story to the viewer. Each individual photo contributes to the overall story, theme, and emotions of the essay. The photographs chosen must not only be compositionally and artistically strong, but also informative and educational. Finding photos that have both qualities can be very challenging, but the result can be very powerful.

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