This seminar series, created by the Oxford Digital Ethnography Group, gathers leading scholars and practitioners to reflect on how ethnography is adapting to the study of heavily-mediated worlds.

Taking photos has become ubiquitous, a common dimension of many people’s lives. In a research project, photos taken by study participants provide visual information from the participants’ perspective, allowing self-expressions as well as providing a basis for discussion. Importantly, photos may bridge the gaps between researchers and participants, where communications, especially involving emotions, may be inhibited by cultural norms or language inadequacies. However, little attention has been paid to the use of photos in information studies.

In this presentation I shall present a study which has used the technique of photovoice with follow-up interviews to investigate the everyday information behaviour of Asian immigrants during their settlement process in South Australia. As a research method, photovoice portraits the way people identify, represent, and enhance their community through images.

I will talk about how a photo can provide a voice to a participant’s experience and open a dialogue between researchers and participants as well as the challenges of using photovoice method. Employment of the photovoice aspect of the inquiry adds substantially to customary qualitative methods.

The talk reflects the first steps of my work on the smart use of information by broad user groups including disadvantaged people. My colleagues and I will organise a workshop “Vulnerable Communities in the Digital Age: Advancing Research and Exploring Collaborations” at iConference 2017 to be held in China on 22-25 March. We are calling for position papers for participating in the workshop. Read more here (