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Photovoice: Evaluation through Photography

A picture is worth a thousand words, and a method called photovoice takes advantage of pictures’ compelling qualities by incorporating photography into research and evaluation. Photovoice is a participatory evaluation method in which program participants are given cameras to capture images that convey their feelings, beliefs and experiences about an issue. The method is used frequently in advocacy projects, allowing the less powerful stakeholders to communicate about issues that impact their lives.

Photovoice seems to be a particularly popular way to engage youth in projects or in evaluation. For examples of photovoice projects with teenagers, check out the two articles listed at the end of this entry. The project described in Necheles et al. used photovoice to engage teenagers in identifying influences over their own health behavior. These teens then developed materials such as posters to advocate for healthier lifestyles among their peers. The article by Strack, Magill and McDonagh presents a project in which teens identified problems in their neighborhoods through photovoice. Both articles provide abundant advice for conducting photovoice projects, including how to engage youth in analyzing photos and ideas for presenting results.

Some photovoice projects carry potential risk for participants. Participants also must be taught how to get and document consent from others who appear in their photos. Consequently, photovoice projects require above-average planning and management skills. For an excellent resource on managing photovoice projects, check out photovoice.org, particularly the organization’s methodology section.

Resources:

Necheles JW et al. The Teen Photovoice Project: A pilot study to promote Health through Advocacy. Prog Community Health Partnersh 2007 Fall; 1(3): 221–229.

Strack RW, Magill C, McDonagh K. Engaging youth through photovoice. Health Promot Pract 2004;5:49–58.

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