Photovoice Resources


The following resources may facilitate your understanding and practice of the photovoice as a methodology.

Miratho_Photovoice Workshop Guide

Miratho_Common Photobook- 2020

Miratho Common Photobook- 2019

Photovoice: An Overview

Photovoice forms part of the extended family of participatory approaches, and its methodology rests on three theoretical underpinnings (Wang & Burris, 1997): a) education for critical consciousness (e.g., Freire, 2007); b) feminism and notions of ‘voice’ (e.g. hooks, 1981); and c) participatory documentary photography (e.g., Hubbard, 1994). Additionally, it has three main aims, to: 1) cultivate critical consciousness among participants; 2) allow participants to document aspects of their lives on their own terms; and 3) reach policy makers with the project’s findings in order enact change (Wang & Burris, 1997). Photovoice also has the potential to overcome some limitations in traditional research practices, by seeing research participants as co-researchers, and by using different knowledge systems in the production of knowledge (Reason & Bradbury, 2008).

Participatory visual approaches like photovoice enable the creation of data by the participants themselves, who typically report in the first person their experiences of everyday life. This gives us as researchers usually rich and detailed empirical evidence about how they perceive their experiences. For our photovoice project, we worked with 19 volunteers out of the 65 students involved in the broader Miratho project. During four-day workshops that were held in Limpopo, Gauteng and the Free State respectively, the 19 students participated in reflexive exercises like River of Life drawings and developing storyboards, and photography training. Once they had received photography training, they were issued with digital cameras and had three days to take photographs guided by the prompt to document experiences of inclusion and exclusion at university, but also in alignment with the storyboards they had developed. They took their own photographs, presented these for feedback, followed by further photograph taking. On the final day of the workshops they curated and captioned their stories, including a title and caption for each of the six photographs that comprised their photo story.

An innovative photovoice exhibition was held on Saturday 30 March 2019 at UFS in the Reitz Hall. The exhibition showcased the compelling photo stories of 19 students who all come from low-income rural or township households, and are studying at four universities across Free State, Limpopo and Gauteng provinces. During the exhibition, students presented and discussed their individual visual stories of exclusion and inclusion at university with the audience. In these visual narratives, students document in photographs and in text their often painful experiences of exclusion at their university but also highlight their determination and hard work as they struggle to be included.  Because photovoice involves young people as co-researchers in a creative and critical knowledge-making process, this participatory research method also included the students producing a common photo story (see e-book), as well as drafting a charter for an inclusive university. Based on their stories, the inclusive charter presented five key points for how a university can be made more inclusive through: changes in outreach and access processes, student welfare, inclusive teaching, access to ICT and teaching spaces. The exhibition powerfully highlighted the importance of enabling the ‘narrative capability’ of ordinary students – the freedom to tell their stories and to have these acknowledged by members of the university community.