The System exChange
The System exChange provides powerful tips and ideas for transforming your local community.
The last issue of the System exChange introduced action learning and provided a series of tools and resources. Click here for past issues.

This week's System exChange describes how to use Photovoice to help local residents engage as change agents within their community.
Resident Engagement Approaches:
Are you looking for exciting ways to help local residents engage as change agents in the community?

Consider Photovoice!

In Photovoice (Wang & Burris, 1994), residents use cameras to take photographs representing their goals and dreams as well as local community conditions that need to shift in order to reach those dreams. 

Residents come together to share and discuss their photos, and the information is used to understand local problems and design strategies.
Residents' photos and narratives can be shared with the community in many ways - from “gallery” style exhibits (see picture to the right) to digital stories shared online and through social media. See table below for more details.

Why is Photovoice a powerful method? 

Photovoice can: 
  • Evoke emotion, grab people's attention, and bring data to life
  • Encourage community dialogue by exposing different audiences to the residents' images and messages 
  • Motivate action to shift policies and community conditions

Some Photovoice projects have even launched resident coalitions where residents continue meeting together to understand and address local issues affecting their lives.
How can Photovoice projects be shared in the community? 
Traditional Photo Exhibit
Participants share Photovoice images and narrative through an art exhibition
  • Photos can be printed on banners, posters displayed on easels, or large canvases. 
  • Residents’ narratives or key messages can be displayed in combination with photographs. 
  • Often resident photographers can stand next to their photographs during exhibits and answer questions. 
Digital Stories
Participants share Photovoice images and narratives in a video format, and record their story or use music to accompany the photography video.
  • This format allows photographers carefully craft and record messages about their project
  • Digital stories can be shared on social media, through emails, or websites in a way to reach a broad audience. 
Participants share Photovoice images and narrative through an organization's, project's, or personal website .  
  • This approach can be used to engage people in virtual conversations about the project.
  • This format allows for projects to be archived so that they can be viewed for longer periods of time.
Printed Guidebook
Participants document their Photovoice images and narratives in a printed book that includes photos and narratives.
  • Often printed guidebooks include lists of recommendations or calls to action for ways to address identified issues. 

Bring photovoice to your community engagement effort using this easy to use guide.
Booklet describes the 2019 Muskegon Photovoice Initiative supported by the local Community Health Innovation Region (CHIR).
If you find this publication useful, forward to your colleagues and encourage them to subscribe !

Want access to more information about community transformation? Check out the Michigan CHIR Learning website ! This website includes information, tools, and resources to help support local collaborative efforts.
April 2020
Have an idea for a future update? Email us at:
  • Foster-Fishman, P. G., Fitzgerald, K., Brandell, C., Nowell, B., Chavis, D., & Van Egeren, L. A. (2006). Mobilizing residents for action: The role of small wins and strategic supports. American Journal of Community Psychology, 38(3-4), 143-152.