As explained in a past blog post, photovoice is a research method used to gather insight from community, by community. The process involves gathering community members together, identifying the research purpose and equipping people with the tools to take photographs of people places and things that they find meaningful in their community. The meaning behind the photographs is the piece that gives voice to participants and ultimately creates a platform for decision-making within the research process.
Our photo installation unveiling held on November 13, 2014 was an event that marked the end of the photovoice process and the beginning of the sharing of this installation with the community. At the same time it kicked off a new way of looking at the Point Douglas community for both photographers and community members at large.The photographs that were taken by community members were full of rich meaning and insight into their personal lives and what they feel is important to them as residents of this community. Images of smiling children, First Nations art work and teachings, pets and parks, still objects including bridges, statues, and murals, are just a few of the images captured throughout a week of the participants’ lives.
Prior to beginning the project photographers reported feeling mostly excited about being involved in the project. While many indicated medium or no skill level to use a camera, after the project many indicated an increase in their capacity around camera use to either a medium or high level of skill. Additional skills gained through this process included: how to center and focus on a subject, being more aware of the north end, and the confidence to speak up and assert one’s self.
This project left many feeling proud, empowered, and valued at the end of their participation. Individuals also commented about feeling “different” in the sense of prestige, feeling more connected to community, important, and accepted.
For many the most meaningful part of being involved was the process of taking the photographs. Being behind a lens allowed people to look at the neighbourhood from a different perspective. As such, people felt they were seeing beauty they hadn’t seen before, that happiness was being part of something bigger, and that everything can be made into a memory by the click of a button. The ability to take a photo, share its meaning, and have it displayed publicly was a full circle experience for the residents capturing and sharing their personal experiences in Point Douglas.
Through this project, this new perspective on life in Point Douglas has left some photographers wishing the process could have been longer. They came to appreciate the things they saw and now seem to find picture worthy opportunities in moments when a camera isn’t on hand. Many of the participants even expressed interest in joining this Photovoice process if it were ever offered again.
The installation will be available for viewing through the end of November at the Winnipeg Boldness Project offices (607 Selkirk Ave) and then will travel around the city after that for viewing in other locations – look out for a schedule to be released in the next few weeks. For now, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch with us and learn more about the project!