How to avoid getting just positive stories through Photo voice tool?

How to avoid getting just positive stories through Photo voice tool? This was a query at a session on tool photo voice session at Australasian Evaluation Community Conference which attended today on 8th Sep 2015

We learned on application and utility of photovoice for evaluation of a program for differently abled people. Natalie Seed the presenter noted, “The participants found it a very empowering process as they have also been told about their limitations due to disability. Whereas here they were asked to collect photos…was based on what they could do.”

One critical question raised after the presentation was how to get both positive as well as negative feedback. Participants felt that people tend to depict positive stories. One participant said that in her work with children with special needs one has to be cautious in getting negative stories as it can be disturbing for the children. Another participant shared her experience on how she addressed the challenge of getting pictures on what is not working. She was working with children. They provided children certain themes to collect photos on for example struggle, conflict et. After the children collected photos there was a FGD and then the children also prepared posters based on these discussions.


What is your experience? I would like to learn from you. Thanks!

Find some resources on photo voice:

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Comment by Connie Donato-Hunt on September 11, 2015 at 4:47

Thank-you for this post - this has also been something I have been considering following the sessions at the AES conference. 

From my experience with photovoice, the power of the methodology really comes through the conversations that happen around the photos. It really enhances empowerment and engagement as participants share about their photos, and also comment on others'. 

One approach to enable balanced / evaluative responses could be in how the initial questions are framed for photo taking. Asking people to take photos of their hopes for the program in the future, or things that could further improve the program, can be a strengths focused way of identifying areas where things could be better.

Comment by Barbara Rosenstein on September 8, 2015 at 11:12

Photo voice is a powerful and empowering tool. I don't see a problem with getting positive  in higher proportion to negative feedback. We can learn a great deal from the positive and can understand the "negative" by what is left out, or missing and explore it. I used photo voice with a group of Bedouin fathers who took a computer course with their elementary aged children. I "resorted" to this tool because the fathers were reluctant  to give any feedback at all through other methods. Their answers were often formulated to praise the program implementer and to fulfill the expectations of the evaluator. When they were "liberated" to take pictures with their phones, the results were amazing. They took pictures of all the members of the family using the computer. Pictures of their friends working with their children during the workshops. It was quite revealing and a real learning experience for all of us when I shared the pictures they had sent me. Of course I asked permission to share the pictures and didn't show any that I didn't get permission to use.  I encourage everyone to use this creative tool keeping in mind good practice and ethics of course. Best wishes, Barbara

Comment by Jean de Dieu BIZIMANA on September 8, 2015 at 10:55

Thank you Rituu for sharing the lessons learnt from Australian Evaluation i have few comments:

1.The usage of Picture in Evaluation is the application of Utulity: Really does it match with the reality we wont to achieve? or not?

2.It is the way of diversification of an evaluation : when you evaluate the program and you have used pictures with litterateurs that help the member to associate the achievements and the figures.

3.The usage of photos required to have appropriate tools:Camera and others  tools very powerful to capture all photos highlight the true history we wont to show.

4.The usage of this approach required to know exactly what you have to show the members,associated with your mission. and thus help to get the feedback from the leaders,researchers,followers etc...

5.The question to be asked is that: How to change mindset of peoples with negative image on the programme?

To answer this question  help to well understand the impact of usage of photos in evaluation to associate with the statistics and literature sometime the figures but entrusted by the member you evaluate.


Jean de Dieu

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