Picturing creative approaches to social work research: Using photography to promote social change

Michele Jarldorn


INTRODUCTION: This article argues for the benefits of employing the arts-based method known as photovoice. Drawn from a social work PhD project with 12 South Australian exprisoners, this research aimed to better understand the post-release experiences within the context of a rising prison population and high recidivism rates.

METHODS: Participants were given a single-use camera and the research question if you had 15 minutes with a policy maker or politician, what would you want to tell them about your experience? Later, the participants’ narratives were combined with the photographs and used to create an art exhibition with the rationale that images are more likely to resonate with people than words alone.

FINDINGS: Using photovoice in this way has the potential to create new knowledge through the process of participants constructing and retelling accounts of their experiences via the medium of photography.

CONCLUSION: I propose that the process of turning research into praxis through participatory action-based methods such as photovoice can be a positive, empowering experience for the participants and researchers.


photovoice; ex-prisoner; arts-based social work research; photography; creative approaches

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/anzswj-vol28iss4id293


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