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Photo Voice

Photovoice is a process of collecting information and expressing issues and concerns through photos. Photovoice is highly flexible and can be adapted to specific participatory goals (such as needs assessment, asset mapping, and evaluation), different groups and communities, and distinct policy and community issues. Photovoice has three main goals:

  • to enable people to record and reflect their community’s strengths and concerns;
  • to promote critical dialogue and knowledge about personal and community issues through large and small group discussions of photographs; and
  • to reach policy makers.


  • Photovoice aims to add a visual element to participatory processes, and can assist in engaging the community in planning and policy issues.


  • Photovoice provides tangible evidence of the visual aspects of an issue or proposal (for example, before and after photographs of an eroded beach), and provides a visual record of the suggestions and decisions.


  • Provides pictorial evidence of community issues (a picture being worth a thousand words.
  • Provides an alternative means of expression which may help include those who are more visual than literate.
  • Allows detailed information to be collected from individual participants.
  • Provides a snapshot of an area or issue from which to develop indicators and to gauge changes/responses.
  • Can easily be used in the media (print/television/interactive A/V technologies.

Special considerations/weaknesses:

  • Can be costly, e.g. cost of disposable cameras, developing film.
  • Requires staffing and the coordination of participants.
  • If photos are pasted onto a larger poster type presentation, can be difficult to store and protect (may need photocopies taken for storage/distribution).

Resources required:

  • Disposable cameras
  • Publicity
  • Venue rental
  • Catering
  • Staffing
  • Engagement of moderator/facilitator
  • Engagement of expert
  • facilitators
  • Recorders
  • Gophers and others
  • Audio and visual recording and amplification
  • Overhead projectors
  • Data projectors
  • Video
  • Slide projector
  • Projection screen
  • Props for working in groups (pens, paper, pins, etc.)
  • Furniture
  • Children’s requirements

Can be used for:

  • Engage community
  • Discover community issues
  • Develop community capacity
  • Develop action plan
  • Communicate an issue
  • Build alliances, consensus

Number of people required to help organize:

  • Medium (2-12 people)
  • Individual

Audience size:

  • Large (> 30)

Time required:

  • Short (< 6 weeks)

Skill level/support required:

  • High (Specialist skills)


  • Medium (AUD$1,000-AUD$10,000)
  • Low (< AUD$1,000)

Participation level:

  • High (Stakeholders participate in decision)

Innovation level:

  • High (Innovative)


The stages of photovoice include:

  • conceptualising the problem
  • defining broader goals and objectives
  • recruiting policy makers as the audience for photovoice findings
  • training the trainers
  • conducting photovoice training (for participants)
  • devising the initial theme/s for taking pictures
  • taking pictures
  • facilitating group discussion
  • critical reflection and dialogue
  • selecting photographs for discussion
  • contextualising and storytelling
  • codifying issues, themes, and theories
  • documenting the stories
  • conducting the formative evaluation
  • reaching policy makers, donors, media, researchers, and others
  • conducting participatory evaluation of policy and program implementation.(For further details, see http://www.photovoice.com/method/)


Many of the resources in the “Participatory Practices” category originated in Coastal CRC’s Citizen Science Toolbox (www.coastal.crc.org.au/toolbox/). With permission, NCDD included the resource on our wiki so practitioners could expand upon the listing.

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