Australian and New Zealand Communication Association
Photography can be a powerful tool for self-expression. For those who are less empowered in our community, such as children, photography can provide a voice through images. It is a form of creativity that can provide a new way of seeing. This article examines the potential of photovoice as a meaningful way to develop critical thinking and communication approaches. Photovoice is a method of participatory action research that is innovative in the ways by which it enables participants to identify and represent their surroundings. Photovoice has been used in anthropology, public health, social work and education, and is associated with empowerment and valuing subjective experience. For this article, we draw upon the outcomes of photography workshops held with children whose families are the recipients of welfare support, and who have agreed to participate in the Hand Up: Disrupting the Communication of Intergenerational Poverty Linkage project. We examine the processes of photovoice, in which every child’s perspective is valued. The children are active participants, empowered through capturing images through professional cameras, selecting and editing their work and, importantly, talking about their photographs, all of which encourage engagement in critical consciousness. There was also a focus on the directness of communication, in the way personal thoughts and ideas were handwritten alongside the photographs produced. In particular, we were interested in the significance for the children of creating a photo album. In our age of digital images, which are viewed on screen, the children were given photo prints, and had a new tactile experience as well as a lasting reminder of their personal photographs, which could be shared and discussed.
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