Implementing Youth Photovoice for Strategic Planning

by Dr. Miranda Yates

Photovoice, a research methodology implemented with youth and other frequently marginalized populations, utilizes the power of photography as a catalyst for self-expression. It invites individuals to capture on film information about their lives and perspectives that might otherwise be difficult to express. A Community Portraits grant from the Human Services Counciland Measure of America, with funding provided by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, recently enabled us to utilize Photovoice as a tool for including youth perspectives in our strategic planning process.   Our project focused on the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn where Good Shepherd Services seeks to deepen its work.

Interested in implementing this approach?

Hot Tips:

  1. Prepare Your Prompts Carefully. Craft 3-5 simply worded prompts that capture the questions you seek to address. Write prompts as first person statements.  Our prompts were:
  • These are the places where I feel like I belong.
  • This is my community at its best.
  • This is something that I would like to change.
  1. Utilize Your Resources.  Ask program staff to assist with recruitment. Solicit feedback on project materials, from the project flyer to the informational packets. We also found success in partnering with a former participant and professional photographer who shared tips with participants and helped host the meetings.
  2. Point-and-Shoot, Disposable, or Cell Phone? There are pros and cons to the type of camera you select. Factors include budget, pixels, product availability, and photograph collection method.
  3. Harvest the Feedback. Design a participatory meeting that offers space and time for participants to reflect on their photos and those of others. Encourage participants to discuss and interpret the photos –  identifying trends, themes, and what can be learned
  4. Share the Results in Multiple Ways. In addition to informing strategic planning, use the results to impact conversations in multiple forums. Ensure participants have copies of all their work to take with them. Display the photos at the program site. Create a photo gallery that is open to the public. Bring photos to spark conversation at a community convening. Write an advocacy report.

Rad Resource:

I Bloomed Here”, a guide created by the National Indian Child Welfare Association, has more helpful tips and ideas for designing your own Photovoice project.

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This post was written with Dr. Miranda Yates of Good Shepherd Services. It was originally published on December 20, 2016 in AEA365, a blog sponsored by the American Evaluation Association (AEA) that is dedicated to highlighting Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Rad Resources, and Lessons Learned for evaluators.

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