Ref: Fassetta, G. (2016) ‘Using photography in research with young migrants: addressing questions of visibility, movement and personal space’.

AIMS OF PROJECT:
To investigate the expectations and experiences of young migrants in relation to their sending and receiving countries.

FOCUS OF STUDY: The imaginings and reflection upon imaginings of young migrant Ghanaians relocating to Italy.

PARTICIPANTS: Thirty female and 11 male Ghanaians aged 10-15 years old; forming three sub-sets of participants:

HOW PHOTOGRAPHY WAS USED: Participant led photography alongside focus groups and individual interviews.

Participants were given disposable cameras and trained in the etiquette of taking photographs e.g. asking permission before taking photos of people.

During the course of a week, participants were asked to take 12 photographs for the project guided by the researcher. Those who did not know Italy or did not know Ghana were asked to take photographs about what they thought would be similar/different to the country they knew. Those who had recently migrated were asked to take photographs of what had surprised them.

Participants were invited to use the remainder photographs on the camera film for themselves.

Participants were given a set of photographs and another set was printed for the study but before proceeding they were invited to take out any photographs they didn’t want included in the study.

Photographs were then used to shape individual interviews giving the participants the opportunity to describe the meaning of each of their photographs e.g. why they had chosen a particular subject.

Verbatim transcripts of recorded conversation about each photograph was used for analysis. Together the photograph with verbatim explanations were considered a unit of data.

FINDINGS:

For many children taking photographs had been fun.  However, for some that fun began to fade and for others taking photographs was a chore from the outset.

Young people found ways of resisting the researcher encroaching on their free time by paying lip-service to the photography task e.g. by taking photographs quickly at random with no thought or only taking a few photos; making excuses suggesting the camera was faulty

Children could be constrained in their choice of photographs by their environment, for instance taking selfies was generally a popular pursuit but it was not easy for children to photograph their friends at these times

Nonetheless if researchers paid proper attention to these matters, photography could provide valuable insight into young people’s experiences; experiences most important to young people themselves.