Photovoice part 2: How to implement a Photovoice project in your community

Part 2 in this series will go into additional detail about the process of utilizing Photovoice, as well as additional references.

As mentioned in Part 1 of this series by Michigan State University Extension, Photovoice is a tool that can be utilized to help acknowledge youth perspectives and empower youth voices in your community. Youth have a unique point of view and often think of innovative solutions to challenges. In using photos and/or videos to portray what they see as strengths and opportunities in their community, youth can inspire people of power to start creating change.

If you’ve read Part 1 and are interested in organizing a Photovoice project in your community, here are some important things to keep in mind. The goals of Photovoice are to give a public voice to populations that are ignored, broaden community awareness, and influence change or policy. From the very start, this project should be collaborative and participatory. The participating youth will need training on how to use a camera as well as open support from organizers throughout the process. This training should include the ethics in addition to the technical aspects of photography.

After recruiting youth participants and some adult mentors or facilitators, the next step is identifying a thematic question—an area for participants to focus on when they are in the community taking photos. From here, develop community partnerships with people who have influence in the thematic area you’ve identified. These partners, along with the general public, should be the primary audience of the final display of photos. Then it’s time to go out and start photographing strengths and opportunities for growth/improvement in the community. With regular reflection and facilitated dialogue, youth should each choose their best photos for a public exhibit. At the exhibit, youth can share their experiences and perspectives using their photographs as a talking point. Because one of the goals of Photovoice is to influence change, the next phase- while out of participant control- is positive action. Adult facilitators and mentors play a vital role in maintaining on going conversation between participants and community partners if necessary, and helping youth debrief after the exhibit experience.

“What is Photovoice and why is it valuable?” introduced the concept of Photovoice, and after reading this article, you should have a general understanding of the process behind a Photovoice project. For more detailed information on applying Photovoice in your community, visit Community Tool Box and Photovoice.org. To see examples of Photovoice projects, follow Photovoice.org on Twitter @photovoice. Academic research  is also available including, “Photovoice: Concept, Methodology, and Use for Participatory Needs Assessment” or “A Practical Guide to Photovoice: Sharing Pictures, Telling Stories and Changing Communities.” Watch this example of youth utilizing Photovoice, “Health in my Hometown: A Youth Photovoice Project.”  For more articles on youth development, community change and participatory projects, visit the MSU Extension website.

Other articles in this series:

  • Part 1: What is Photovoice and why is it valuable?

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