PhotoVoice is able to offer our award winning participatory photography expertise to other organisations and individuals through our consultancy programme. This can ensure meaningful community engagement in discussions, decision-making and programme delivery. PhotoVoice has previously partnered with numerous international development organisations to enable participatory photography components to enhance their research and aid programmes.
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PhotoVoice has more than a decade of experience in working with some of the most marginalised and hard-to-reach communities in the developing world. We have helped to develop the skills and equipment needed to use digital photography as a tool of communication. We have then developed programmes and systems which allow these unique images and stories to reach the people who can bring about change.
By providing expertise in the practical and ethical use of photography with marginalised, vulnerable and issue-affected groups, we have enabled organisations to engage in productive, positive, and constructive dialogue with their beneficiaries. This increases the effectiveness, responsiveness and relevance of programmes, can help identify new opportunities and priorities, and provides valuable evidence from the field to inform future delivery and engagement with international staff and supporters.
Our previous project partners include the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), World Vision International, CAFOD, Age International, Save the Children and Amnesty International, amongst others.
When it came to deciding on partners for a major youth photography project for youth in our region, PhotoVoice was top of our list and they have not disappointed.
By working in partnership with PhotoVoice, we have ensured empowered child participation in advocacy.
Photography is a highly flexible tool that crosses cultural and linguistic barriers and can be adapted to all abilities. It can effectively and powerfully communicate findings to other stakeholders and decision-makers which can directly link to informed, appropriate change. The PhotoVoice process provides participants with increased skills in photography, visual literacy and IT, and increased confidence in voicing opinions and perspectives in an articulate way.
Being a visual medium, photography doesn’t just ‘tell’ about its subject but also ‘shows’ it. A digital photograph is an incredibly versatile format for sharing information about projects. Within workshops the photos can be displayed and discussed as soon as they are taken, encouraging valuable group debate and dialogue. After the workshops, photos can be shared electronically across the world in seconds via the internet, or displayed in places with no electricity by being printed for exhibitions, or reproduced in postcards, leaflets or books. This ensures that the voices and perspectives of the participants can reach whoever needs to see them. PhotoVoice has expertise in creating context-appropriate exhibitions in a huge variety of challenging environments.
PhotoVoice staff are experts in conveying photographic skills to communities where technology and related concepts are new, and where working with a translator is necessary. At no point do participants need to be literate or IT savvy to engage fully and confidently. PhotoVoice also has expertise in inclusive photography techniques which make photography accessible to disabled people, including blind and partially sighted people.
With sensitivity to ethical, cultural and logistical issues associated with the creation and public use of photography, PhotoVoice embeds skills and processes locally to ensure sustainable benefits from the engagement, both for the participants and wider community.
The PhotoVoice process is an effective way to engage and inform community stakeholders in projects focused at development work, or research into an existing programme or issue. The opportunity to learn photography skills through fun and exciting workshops, and create photographs that can be shared with friends, family and the wider community, ensures that participants from all demographics and ages in a community are willing and able to participate.
In PhotoVoice workshops, photographs are used to stimulate discussion about attitudes, issues and experiences relevant to the project. This dialogue is extended to the wider community when photographic work has been generated by the participant group, through exhibitions and presentations.
PhotoVoice trains and equips members of communities where programmes are active to become ‘PhotoVoice Community Monitors’. These community representatives ensure a steady stream of documentation and evidence of both project activities and the wellbeing of the community. Feedback mechanisms are set up to allow these Community Monitors to raise issues and highlight problems or oversights that they perceive in programme delivery, and to share their attitudes and those of other community members through photos and words. This increases the accountability of the project to the community it seeks to benefit, and creates opportunities for project systems and priorities to be regularly reviewed in light of real-time developments and observations.
When a project has community members engaged as monitors, a ‘story of change’ is built up through the images produced across the project timeline, creating a rich source of evaluative data to inform future activities.
The photos, captions and case studies resulting from a PhotoVoice process are a powerful source of visual material for reports, advocacy campaigns, printed materials and supporter communications. Community members are aware of, and able to document, details of their life which an outside researcher or photographer would never have access. Community members will use their skills to represent their own lives and experiences, creating the opportunity for greater understanding and engagement with the real people the project seeks to benefit.
As well as providing information to support organisation’s campaigning efforts, advocacy training can be incorporated into the project design. This can encourage communities to advocate for themselves by teaching how to use the photos, captions and case studies to seek and expect positive change.