Photovoice: innovative reflective research method?

Annette Coburn, Fiona Averill

Research output: Contribution to conferencePresentation


This presentation considers use of Photovoice in two educational research contexts: higher education and community based informal education. This innovative method allows not just for the production of visual images but actively encourages analysis and reflection by participants themselves. This helped in co-production of data through their explanation of meanings, and their reflections on the stories portrayed from their images. This distinctive research method is grounded in ethnographic principles and has been effective in engaging diverse cohorts through using cameras to capture individuals lived experiences. In this sense, the researcher becomes the facilitator to the creation and interpretation of the data rather than the producer.

Photographs which are context rich in depicting people in their own cultural and everyday social settings are, according to Wallace and Coburn (2011) consistent with Freirian pedagogy that encourages a decoding of visual representations in order to read and interpret the world (Freire, 1972). Creating personal images can be useful in enhancing the interpretation of written and verbal data whilst complementing participants and researchers to become more critically conscious of how images are used to shape and define the world. By helping people to reflect on and re-think on their lived experiences they can become conscious of the power of images to create meaning and make sense for the world.

Photovoice offers a contemporary educational research methodology in a photo rich world where social media and the accessibility of ‘smartphones’ makes this a simple method that breaks down barriers between researchers and research participants.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2017
EventScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference : Educational Futures in a Changing Landscape: Bridging Boundaries or "Mind the Gap"? - University of the West of Scotland, Ayr, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Nov 201724 Nov 2017


ConferenceScottish Educational Research Association Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleSERA Conference 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • photovoice
  • visual research
  • innovative methods


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