Training: PhotoVoice Training
PhotoVoice with Legebitra in Slovenia
What is PhotoVoice as a participatory method?
How can it be used as a method to create social change and speak to power?
How can PhotoVoice be used by LGBTQI+ communities?
These questions formed the basis of a project to explore the lived experiences of LGBTQI+ people in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Working in partnership with the University of Sunderland, ReportOUT and Legebitra in Slovenia, both Drew Dalton and Abbie Riley delivered PhotoVoice training courses to staff, volunteers, and service users of Legebitra.
This project was funded by the UK Research and Innovation Participatory Research Fund.
What will this project aim to do?
What is Photovoice?
PhotoVoice is a participatory research method commonly used as a mechanism for personal and community change. First introduced as a ‘Photo Novella’ by Wang and Burris (1994), PhotoVoice has since become an empowering methodology that allows individuals to reflect upon the strengths and concerns of their own lives and community. Researchers also recognize PhotoVoice as a vital tool for Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) because of its accuracy in gathering information (Garziano, 2004).
Not only does PhotoVoice establish a partnership among the people involved, it also involves them in all aspects of the research process (Streng, 2004). By capturing the needs of marginalised populations, PhotoVoice can direct the focus of research for a community. PhotoVoice goes beyond just facilitating discussions, as it goes to a stage of action where change can occur at a policy level by speaking to people in power to make community-led change happen.
At the heart of this project lies Freire’s (1970) empowerment ‘education theory,’ which specialises in encouraging individuals to become vocal about the needs of their community. Empowerment education begins first with the data collection. Individuals go into their communities and take pictures of their concerns. Once completed, the individuals move onto facilitated discussions, sharing with one another what the photographs mean to them. The group dialogue allows the individuals to build upon each other’s concerns, helping shape the identified needs of the community.
As members become more passionate about improving the well-being of their community, the individual’s self-image will change as well. Residents will then take on the role of community advocates and participate in policy changes (Wang, 1994). PhotoVoice places the control into the hands of the oppressed, allowing them to become the decision makers and elect the themes that are represented among the photos.
As members of the community, these individuals are more imaginative and observant of than even the most experienced photographers and photo journalists (Wang, 1994). As Freire (1970) argued, the purpose of education should be to transform lives and liberate them from the status quo. For a difference to be made, the momentum created at the individual level must continue onto the community level, as well as the institutional level.
To construct a training pack for all LGBTQI+ organisations to implement PhotoVoice as a method of community engagement and empowerment.
To facilitate a face-to-face set of training workshops in Ljubljana, Slovenia (in partnership with Legebrita) to implement this pilot training course with LGBTQI+ people, around their own chosen social issue.
To determine social change via their chosen photographs and stories, alongside speaking to people to power, to facilitate change for LGBTQI+ people in Slovenia, and ultimately, worldwide.
To host the training pack and instructional videos on ReportOUT’s website, so it may be utilised by other LGBTQI+ organisations across the globe.
Project milestones so far:
The first part of the project was to develop PhotoVoice training sessions with Legebrita (an LGBTQI+ rights organisation) in Ljubljana, Slovenia. This part of the project was completed in June 2023, working to facilitate Legebrita staff, volunteers, and service users, to document their own chosen social issue currently facing LGBTQI+ people in Slovenia.
The training sessions were a success, which has now facilitated Legebitra staff, volunteers, and service users, to 'speak to power' to ensure that they will now choose their own locally agreed issue, using the PhotoVoice method. This will take form through an upcoming exhibition of their own photographs and stories, which will be hosted at Legebrita.
Furthermore, an upcoming training pack, developed by Drew and Abbie, will contain video and physical resources to empower other LGBTQI+ organisations globally, to use PhotoVoice as a method and to be able to facilitate their own sessions.
Feedback from the training sessions:
100% of people rated the facilitation of this course as 'excellent.'
100% of people rated the resources used as 'excellent.'
100% of people rated this course as 'excellent.'
100% of people would recommend this course to others.
If you have any further questions about this project, you are welcome to contact me.
Please view further feedback, and selected photographs from the training sessions, below.
"I liked that it was an open space to work through ideas and to actively participate. The power of photography and the option to address things that you cannot express with words"
Selected PhotoVoice Images from the Project