Created by Caroline C. Wang and Mary Ann Burris, the Photo Voice concept features a rigid methodology that forces participants to express their thoughts on various issues through the lens of their camera. The issues that participants focus on are often highly political and their reflections used to advocate for policy change. In fact, Photo Voice is oriented towards bolstering the voice of the typically voiceless in matters of public policy.
Photo Voice has three main goals:
- to enable people to record and reflect their community's strengths and concerns;
- to promote critical dialogue and knowledge about personal and community issues through large and small group discussions of photographs; and
- to reach policy makers (ref. www.photovoice.com)
The original Photo Voice project focused on "Women's Reproductive Health and Development" in Yunnan, China, and ran from 1992 - 1996.
As part of this project, 62 village women, representing over 50 villages, received training and participated in the Photo Voice process. In addition to the Photo Voice component, this project also featured the use of a survey questionnaire, nominal group process, and focus groups.
According to the Photo Voice website, rural women were able to use the process as a means of influencing policy on day care, girls' education, midwifery, and women's entrepreneurship in their community. They were also able to use their cameras to reflect on newly-implemented programs and policies to show what worked and what needed further revision.
Foto Vwa differs from Photo Voice in many different ways, most notably in methodology. While Photo Voice pursues a rigid methodology that often focuses participants on specific issues, Foto Vwa allows participants the freedom to photograph whatever they'd like.
In addition, most Photo Voice projects are designed to be short-term endeavors. However, Foto Vwa projects are meant to be long-term and sustainable. They're about expression, aesthetics, and communication across borders.
I hope that this information has been helpful.
Kyle Denison Martin