Is Instagram a global photovoice project? I really have no idea, but it’s been on my mind. We’ll get back to that question in a moment.
I recently reread Wang and Burris’s seminal article on photovoice. The following excerpt from page 178 really struck me (it should be noted that in this paper the authors refer to photovoice as photo novella):
Work. Play. Worry. Love. How do we see these intangibles? How do we translate them into images? Where do we do work, play, worry, and love? In what ways would we document those spaces? In what ways do these four things, or actions, relate to health?
As I reread the piece, these–and more–questions swirled in my head.
And at about the same time, I was in the midst of preparing for the spring 2016 semester. This meant getting ready for the three courses I am currently teaching at Ball State University. In one of these classes, EDCC 641 (Community Colleges and Diversity), we are going to be engaging in an Immersive Learning project with a subgroup of community college students. It will be a photovoice project. The purpose is, simply, to understand. So in class this past week, I asked my students to engage in an activity to get us acquainted with the methodology.
I wrote the following on the board: #playworrylove and my cell phone number. Yeah. I forgot to include work in the hashtag. *sigh* I asked who had a public Twitter or Instagram account. Then I asked the students to go out into the world for about 15 minutes and take a photograph that was illustrative of one of the words in that hashtag. They were to caption the photograph, add the hashtag, and post it to one of the two social media platforms. They could also text me the image and the caption, and I would post it to my public Instagram account for them.
While they were outside the classroom, I pulled up the following sites and projected them intermittently onto our whiteboard/screen: TweetBeam and Tagboard. I called up our hashtag, which was #playworrylove (because I forgot, remember?). Once everyone returned from the adventure, we reviewed the images and further narrated them. It was both fun and interesting. We had carried out a brief photovoice project.
So back to the question with which I started. I don’t know the answer. But I know many self-narrate on social media platforms in a very visual way.
Let’s try something. Can we?
In an effort to honor and re-engage the work of the two individuals credited with coining the term photovoice and developing it as a methodology, if you have a public Twitter or Instagram account, take a photograph of what work or play or worry or love means to you, add a caption/narration, and share it using the hashtag #workplayworrylove. Search the hashtag; engage others. And then let’s see what happens. More soon.