Photovoice and Photowalking-Social Projects with Photography

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Photography, like many informational mediums and some art styles are sometimes used to make a change, to bring attention to a cause, to make a difference in the lives of some. Images can often deliver a message that words alone cannot.

Photovoice is a style of photography which is mainly used in community projects, and the public sectors. Its main proponents are non-profit organizations and governmental agencies at the city, state and federal levels.

Although Photovoice organizations may sometimes use staff and professional photographers, the main bulk of images are produced by individuals who have been trained, equipped and offered other necessary skills and assistance in order for them to be involved in photography by capturing images not only from and of their own lives, but of the lives and social situations on which they and large sections of the community are involved with the hope that the images and the involvement of the image takers will bring about change or bring attention to a need.

Often these individuals are of a lower socio-economic statute or face other issues which sets them apart from the majority. The messages within the images taken are presented with the purpose of bringing attention to their needs and expedite change. The participants not only are involved in photo taking activities, but they are participants in community outreach programs, social and economic forums and discussions. Photovoice images are often sold to help manage the costs associated with the many programs which emanate from these agencies.

Photovoice is a technique of capturing images that portrait social, economic, educational and other barriers and differences amongst social groups, but the concept and the name itself was created by two university associates;

"PhotoVoice was built on a partnership between its founders Anna Blackman and Tiffany Fairey, which originated whilst they were at Edinburgh University. In 1998, they established projects in Vietnam (Street Vision) and Nepal (Children’s Forum) which were to become the cornerstones of the present-day organisation. Initially run on a voluntary basis, PhotoVoice became a registered charity in 2003. Now well established, PhotoVoice has a governing board, a core of professional staff and a wide network of trainers and facilitators, volunteers, and supporters." Photovoice.org.

You may assist these organizations in their efforst by making a generous donation to: http://www.photovoice.org/donate/

This style is often associated with photojournalism, but the story told by their images are not in response to breaking news or events, but rather of a continual struggle for equality in many social arenas and to bring about a different perspective of how the general public and society in general views those who are different. The images can often be stark and controversial in their scope, but this is often needed to make a statement, point out a reality and initiate change.


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Photowalking is an image taking technique which takes place mainly during scheduled walks. These photo-walks are organized by photography groups and organizations with the intent of photographing subjects which may prove to be interesting to the photographers. This is similar to street photography, but the focus is not to photograph people but rather anything and everything that may result in an interesting image.

This genre often brings about a change in how others view the world because it will capture images of life; images which show a representation of people, their possessions, their culture and anything that can be associated with them. Yes, this genre is not purposely looking for these types of subjects, or just to photograph "pretty" things, but it often captures images which coincidentally happen to show a slice of life. An example would be to take images of a particularly affluent neighborhood one day and on another walk the images may be of a less than affluent neighborhood.

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© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez

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Comments 2 comments

Gemma 3 years ago

Thanks for the article Luis, there's a LinkedIn group on participatory photography or 'photovoice' for interested people here:

http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Participatory-Photo...


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LuisEGonzalez 3 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

Gemma: Thank you

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    Luis E Gonzalez (LuisEGonzalez)1,101 Followers
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    I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years. Hope you enjoy my hubs!



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