What is participatory photography?

Participatory photography involves participants as actors rather than objects of study by providing individuals with cameras to capture images. Conversations with participants about their photographs ensure context is provided, with participants retaining copyright and intellectual property rights over their images and text. Individuals captured in the photos were part of participants broader network of family and friends within the community and provided verbal consent to participant photographers. Images of minors have only been selected where it is not possible to identify individuals. 

In generating content, participants are empowered in the knowledge  production process, and are provided with an avenue for self-representation. Participants are provided with a platform from which they have an opportunity to shape the project and share their stories. 

Why participatory photography?

Participatory photography was used as it can be more attentive to the power structures attached to representation. Fundamentally, it attempts to address the often unspoken stereotypes, assumptions and narratives that permeate discussions by providing individuals and communities with a platform to share their content. In a post-colonial context, inherited narratives from the colonial era are known to undermine the voices of communities. 

Why Rhino Camp, Uganda?

Rhino Camp provides insight into the centrality of agriculture in rural Uganda, and the profound impact that climate change is having on agricultural communities in this part of the world. Key issues raised by participant photographers were: significant changes in weather patterns driven by climate change, the informal and formal community networks, negative impacts of gender roles and deforestation.

Participating Photographers

The project was established by providing an open call amongst farmers selling cotton to GADC who were informed that they would be involved in an agricultural based research project. Volunteers were introduced to the project at an initial workshop and worked collectively to state their concerns and hopes for the project. Participants attended eight workshops to help guide their practice and ensure they could select images for captioning and selection for the final exhibition. All participants were free to exit the project at any stage, or not attend a workshop if they did not have the time. Further details about participants are found here.

The full pdf report outlining the ethics, methodology and outputs of the project is available on request. 

At the end of the project a exhibition was held at Olojobu Primary School on Saturday 24th March, 2018. The exhibition provided an opportunity for the broader community to get a better understanding of the project, see photos (often of themselves or of relatives and/or friends), and also for the participants to explain the stories behind their photos. It also provided an opportunity for those who wanted to participate but were not selected with an avenue to engage with the project and share their opinion on the message conveyed by the participants. For the project coordinator it provided an opportunity to explain how the photos would be used outside of the community and respond to any concerns © Divesh Mistry, March 2018

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