Photo/Stories from the field

Picture taken while waiting for my bus home at Waterloo station in May 2015. I had spent the day with one of our participants. It has been a typical ‘four seasons in one day’ London day. I had been prepared for spring and summer, but got caught out by the hail and rain.

Forty-five children and their families across each city (Athens, Hyderabad, London) have taken part in the Connectors Study. Our initial fieldwork with these children and families lasted 18 months from October 2014 until May 2016. During this time we made between five and seven documented visits – meaning that various methods were attempted and visits were documented in ethnographic fieldnotes. In total, across all three cities, we had over 300 ‘encounters’ (as one London mother described our visits and meetings) with our study children and their parents.

One of the methods we used during the fieldwork was that of photo-stories. In a nutshell, having given children digital cameras to take photographs of things that mattered to them, we gathered in a one-day workshop in each city and, with the support of facilitators, children worked together in groups to select one photograph with which to make their photo-story of something that mattered a lot to them and which they were happy to make public.

A book of photo-stories called in common will be out shortly. We are also in the process of writing up our approach to photo-stories as well as creating a methodological booklet that showcases all the Connectors Study multimodal ethnographic approach. 

In the meantime, and over the next three months we will be blogging one photo-story a week of our own fieldwork experiences and related methods. In the ethnographic tradition captured by John Van Maanen’s evocatively titled book ‘tales of the field‘ these researcher photo-stories are fragments of experience, moments of engaging in fieldwork and of being with the children and their parents over the 18-months. The photo-stories are intended to give a glimpse into the processes and our experiences of doing the fieldwork and we hope that they may resonate with ethnographers old and new everywhere.

If anyone feels inspired to contribute their own photo-story please do get in touch [s dot nolas @ sussex dot ac dot uk], especially if you are doing research with children, young people and families anywhere in the world. We will consider short researcher photo-stories for publication on this blog later in the year. Photo-stories should consist of one photograph (good resolution) and a story between 350-500 words max. 

The researcher photo-stories series starts on Wednesday 5 July 2017. Sign up to the blog to receive updates.

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