How can we talk about photos in research and therapy?

Penny Tinkler presented an IIQM webinar this week, ‘Talking about photos: how does photo-elicitation work and how can we use it productively in research?’ She explained that photo-elicitation doesn’t always meet researchers’ expectations and so, in order to use it well, we need to have a better understanding of how it works. Although aimed at researchers, it struck me that this is also highly relevant to speech and language therapists who want to get the most out of using photos in therapy.

Penny’s presentation included:
• Talking with photos versus talk-alone
• Using personal photos versus ones that have been taken for the session
• The way that photos provide a shared point of reference for communication
• Photos as a complex sensory experience (chills down the spine; smells)
• The relationship between photos and time
• Why photos might encourage talk and silences
• How familiarity or obviousness of the photo can be a double-edged sword
• The whole picture versus noticing detail
• Presenting photos creatively to stimulate communication
• Photos for sense-making through memory, processing and composing an account

Penny’s slides are available via IIQM, and the recording of her presentation is due to be posted on YouTube. She has also written a book ‘Using Photographs in Social and Historical Research’. It was published by SAGE in 2013, and a free chapter ‘Photo-interviews: Listening to talk about photos’ is available here.

The International Institute for Qualitative Methodology (IIQM) webinar Masterclass series is a free resource for anyone who is serious about doing qualitative research well. All webinars are archived as slide presentations and on YouTube.

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