Photo Voice

Photovoice is a registered charity that promotes participatory photography as an empowering option of digital storytelling for vulnerable populations. 

"PhotoVoice’s mission is to build skills within disadvantaged and marginalised communities using innovative participatory photography and digital storytelling options so that they have the opportunity to represent themselves and create tools for advocacy and communications to achieve positive social change." (PhotoVoice, 2012)

Brief Example

Dana Harley (2011) in her dissertation, describes how PhotoVoice was used to explore the feelings of "hope and hopelessness among poor African American adolescents"

"In 2001, African American minors comprised 30 percent of children living below the poverty threshold. High poverty environments tend to intensify feelings of hopelessness, powerlessness, depression, and high levels of stress among such youth. Yet, few studies have examined the perceptions of hope and hopelessness among poor African American adolescents. Furthermore, children and adolescents have not historically co-constructed research.

This study explores the constructs of hope and hopelessness from the viewpoint of research participants utilizing photographs taken by research participants and in-depth interviews. The following questions guided the research study:

  • How do low-income African American adolescents perceive and experience hope?
  • How do low-income African American adolescents think about goals, future orientation and hope?
  • How do low-income African American adolescents experience and perceive hopelessness?

In-depth interviews were conducted and photographs representing hope and hopelessness were taken by 16 African American adolescents ages 13-17. Constant comparative analysis was employed to analyse interviews and photographs. Qualitative analysis software Nvivo9 was utilized to assist in data reduction and for the generation of themes across the data. The use of photovoice with such populations offers unique perspectives and allows for expression of sensitive topics. The analyses yielded important information about how hope and hopelessness are experienced and perceived in the everyday lives of the youth. Hope generated five themes including caring connections, spirituality, education, "basic needs,” and “gonna make it mentality.” Perceptions of hopelessness were connected to negative attitudes and beliefs, external constraints, negative behaviors, and deleterious environmental conditions.

This study reshapes the constructs of hope and hopelessness beyond the cognitive process related to goal attainment. It provides specific factors that promote hope and factors that impinge upon hope in low-income African American adolescents. This study also gives new insight to culturally relevant ways in which hope is defined and maintained among African American adolescents. This study highlights the use of culturally sensitive research options with populations that have been historically understudied and marginalized. Findings from the study provide important implications for social work practitioners, researchers, and educators in understanding the perceptions of children and adolescents." (Harley, 2011)




  • See it our way: This resource is designed to guide and support organisations who advocate for the rights of marginalsied people on the use of PhotoVoice to develop effective advocacy campaigns. 


Daw, M. Photovoice/World Vision, (2011). See it our way participatory photography as a tool for advocacy. Retrieved from website:

Harley, D. M. (2011). Perceptions of hope and hopelessness among low-income african american adolescents. (Doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University), Available from OhioLINK ETD Center. (osu1313009132)Retrieved from Dana Michelle.pdf?osu1313009132


Updated: 14th January 2014 - 1:51am
A special thanks to this page's contributors


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