Choosing between our foundations courses- “Talking with Pictures: Photovoice” and “Photovoice Facilitation 101: The Basics”

By Laura Lorenz and Stephanie Lloyd

We are pleased to offer two foundational photovoice professional development courses. In this blog, we compare our two foundational course offerings, to help you choose the right course for you. Alumni of both courses are invited to participate in our PhotovoiceWorldwide community of continuing education, including alumni webinars. 

In a nutshell, Talking with Pictures is well suited to researchers, clinicians, graduate students, and nonprofit staff who will be planning a photovoice project from start to finish, including ethics review. Photovoice Facilitation Basics is a basic nuts-and-bolts course that provides researchers, nonprofit staff, community health workers, and peer leaders with the understanding and skills they need to run photovoice groups and meet project goals.

Since January 2019, more than 250 people—clinicians, researchers, nonprofit staff, photographers, and students from 16 countries and 28 US states—have participated in our foundational course, Talking with Pictures, and our organization-specific trainings.

Now let’s explore each course a little more in depth.

Talking with Pictures: Photovoice is a comprehensive 10 hour course spanning 5 interactive sessions (2 hours each) taught by Laura Lorenz, who has a master’s in instructional design/adult education and a doctoral degree in health policy and health services research. With a focus on storytelling and examples from photovoice practice, this course takes you on a journey through the steps of photovoice planning and implementation. The course provides guidelines, options, hands-on practice, and a wealth of supporting materials to guide photovoice planning and implementation from start to finish. As a course participant you will gain an in-depth understanding of the ethical issues related to this powerful method and access to examples of documents for ethics review. You will learn about communication strategies for working with people who have different abilities and disabilities, using photovoice for evaluation, interpreting photovoice data, and disseminating project results. You will also gain an understanding of ways to read photos like text and store your photovoice data. All 5 sessions include hands-on practice with each photovoice step and brainstorming ways to apply course learning to your context. Upon course completion you will have a Photovoice Planning document tailored to your context, with feedback from instructors and peers. We anticipate that contact hours (CEs) will again be available for nurses, psychologists, and social workers.

Well designed, practical, engaging, and supportive. USA

Photovoice Facilitation 101: The Basics is a nuts-and-bolts 6-hour course spanning 3 sessions (2 hours each) and is taught by Stephanie Lloyd, who has a master’s in applied sociology. The course content is grounded in our consulting services training project teams to run photovoice groups. As a participant you will gain an overview of the photovoice method and learn the basics of ethical photovoice practice, including tools and strategies for introducing your project to participants and gaining informed consent. You will learn about options for implementing photo interviews and photovoice groups. You will gain techniques and tools for engaging participants in all stages of your project, from deciding on photo-taking questions to identifying common themes. All 3 sessions include hands-on practice with photovoice tasks and brainstorming ways to apply your learning to your context using a Photovoice Facilitation planning tool. Upon course completion you will be prepared to contribute to project planning, choose among interview and group facilitation options, and work with participants to support their success and reach project goals.

Now I have content to facilitate photovoice workshops. CANADA

All courses offered by PhotovoiceWorldwide intentionally seek a balance between discussion, presentations, small group work, and hands-on experience. Both Talking with Pictures and Photovoice Facilitation Basics provide practical practice with the steps of photovoice, from taking pictures to discussing them, choosing some for captions, and presenting to others. By the end of either course, you will know what it is like to participate in a photovoice project. You will be ready to work with participants in a meaningful way, support their success, and reach your project’s goals.

We hope that you now can make an educated decision on which of our foundational courses is best for you, and we welcome you to join our growing community of photovoice researchers, practitioners, clinicians, and peers. If you have any questions or need more information to help you to determine the better choice for your needs; email us at team@photovoiceworldwide.com to set up a time to talk.


What is Photovoice?

By Diana Weggler

“Photovoice is an innovative way to reflect, talk, learn, share, and make a difference for yourself and others.” -PhotovoiceWorldwide

Photovoice puts cameras in the hands of people with valuable lived experience so they can explore and share their perspectives on health, family, community, and their futures.

The goal of photovoice is to give a “voice” to those who—because of their age, status, or condition—do not have a strong say in the policies and decisions that impact their health, safety, and quality of life. Photovoice participants around the globe include people living with chronic health conditions or disabilities, minorities, youth, veterans, immigrants, people living with mental illness, parents of children with special needs, people who are homeless, and many others.

Using the photovoice method, participants share stories with pictures and words, documenting their challenges and strengths, successes and failures, hopes and fears—from their perspective. Their photos and captions prompt respectful conversations among equals—whether researchers, participants, community members, or decision-makers. The photos, captions, and conversations become valuable data for advocacy, policymaking, and decisions on a path forward.

With photovoice, a range of stakeholders—patients, clinicians, researchers, community members, nonprofits—work together to:

  • Learn about photovoice and decide on a topic
  • Take photographs that show their thoughts and experiences
  • Discuss and reflect on their photos and experiences
  • Write or dictate captions to share the stories behind their photos
  • Identify common themes
  • Inform others through exhibits and other outreach.

Unlike traditional methods of research, where the persons conducting the study hold all the power, photovoice flips this script by empowering the persons being studied to be co-researchers. This participatory approach generates authentic, real-life data that opens people’s eyes to new possibilities, creates awareness, and becomes a catalyst for change. After participating in photovoice, many participants find they have greater confidence and self-esteem from having had an opportunity to be seen, be heard, and help others.

The following examples illustrate a few of the limitless applications possible using the photovoice participatory research method:

  • A “Talking with Pictures” photovoice project in Lexington, Mass., looked with fresh eyes at community integration of older adults living with brain injury. Participants took photographs and wrote captions to investigate and share information on their lives, experiences, and community. The project exhibit fostered community dialog about the integration of people with disabilities into community life, and informed town decision-making regarding sidewalk improvements. It also gave the participants a deep and rewarding sense of pride and accomplishment. The project received a grant from the Dana Home Foundation and was sponsored by the nonprofit Supportive Living Inc
  • In Mdantsane Township, South Africa, four members of the youth-led nonprofit Youth Academy were trained to be co-leaders on a photovoice project funded by the Equity Project, a partnership of the South African Department of Health and USAID. Participants took photographs of community resources and problems from their point of view, wrote captions, and prepared an exhibit organized under six themes: Health and Welfare, Education and Training, Community Vision, Economic Opportunity, Security, and Township Life. Exhibits at public libraries, the local hospital, and the regional capital captured policymaker attention and helped the young people feel heard.
This picture is a good thing because it is healthy to have fresh vegetables. These people are unemployed and are growing their own food because there are no jobs. It is good to plant vegetables for eating and selling. — Celine, Youth Academy, Mdantsane Township, Eastern Cape, South Africa, 2001
This school is so dirty. The paint is peeling, the windows are broken, and the roof leaks. The community is not paying attention to this situation while their children are studying here. Perhaps the Municipality can take control and help. Volunteers are the only people who are working to clean this school. — Thembisa, Youth Academy, Mdantsane Township, Eastern Cape, South Africa, 2001
  • A group of girls in Lowell, Massachusetts, participated in a photovoice community activism project as an afterschool activity of Girls Incorporated of Greater Lowell. Project goals were to identify resources and challenges in Lowell as seen from the perspectives of adolescent girls. Using photographs and captions, Girls Inc. members documented community resources and needs, and reached policymakers and decision-makers through an exhibit at City Hall. The project was sponsored by Girls Inc. of Greater Lowell, with funding from the Association for American University Women.
  • In a study of Veterans’ experiences feeding their families, photovoice engaged low-income veterans with children in reflecting on their experiences trying to provide adequate, nutritious food for themselves and their families. Researchers learned about the barriers veterans face in getting food on the table, the strategies they employ, and the impact these barriers and strategies have on their families. Their photos and captions prompted creation of a new model to describe and understand what influences the home food environment for veterans and improve their access to nutritious food for their children. This project was funded by the William T. Grant Foundation.

As you can see, the photovoice method can be adapted to almost any community or population, providing an opportunity for people to have a say in the policies, services, and decisions that impact their health, safety, and quality of life.

PhotovoiceWorldwide’s mission is to help individuals and organizations worldwide use photovoice safely, ethically, and successfully, and to create a global community for photovoice peer-to-peer support and continuing education.