What is Photovoice?

Photovoice is a way of doing research where research participants use photos and storytelling to respond to the research questions. 

Health researchers Caroline C. Wang and Mary Ann Burris created it while doing health research in China. Photovoice combines principles of documentary photography (photo) with concepts of empowerment, engagement and enfranchisement (voice).

Photovoice invites people who are marginalized, vulnerable, and who do not have political power or influence, to document their lived experience on their own terms and to explain it in their own words. Participants can also be considered co-researchers because they get to propose research questions, and because they create all the raw data for the study. 

Photovoice is most commonly used in health and education research but it has been used to by researchers working with homeless communities, people who use food banks, and workers seeking to improve workplace safety, just to name a few examples.

A public show or display of photovoice images and stories is part of the photovoice process. Sharing images and stories with the public allows the participants to share their stories with influential people they might not otherwise get to talk to. 

Photovoice is NOT just for academics. Any community or organization can follow the basic steps in the process to discover, investigate, document, discuss, and reflect on shared concerns affecting people.