Using Photovoice to Examine and Initiate Youth Empowerment in Community-Based Programs

A Picture of Process and Lessons Learned

  • Sherer W. Royce Coastal Carolina University
  • Deborah Parra-Medina University of South Carolina
  • DeAnne H. Messias University of South Carolina


Photovoice is a creative, participatory action research method that puts cameras in the hands of people whose voice is often hushed by the power elite, such as youth, to document issues and concerns as perceived by that group. Adult society provides youth few opportunities to positively influence the laws and regulations that govern their lives or the policies of programs in which they participate. Communitybased programs are one channel for youth to gain skills and opportunities for changing the community context in which they live. Mechanisms to facilitate youth empowerment in these programs, however, are currently vague and imprecise. Photovoice was implemented in two community-based youth programs in South Carolina to examine and initiate youth empowerment in those communities. This article details the process and lessons learned from conducting Photovoice with youth in out-of-school, community-based youth program settings. While roadblocks appeared for both the youth researchers and the universitybased investigative team, the Photovoice method was embraced by the youth who participated in the research process. Some challenges the investigative team experienced for implementation included geographic distance between the Photovoice project facilitator and the youth, challenges of working with youth and their competing commitments, an uncertainty of youth expectations, and underestimation of time and other resources.
How to Cite
Royce, S. W., Parra-Medina, D., & Messias, D. H. (2006). Using Photovoice to Examine and Initiate Youth Empowerment in Community-Based Programs: A Picture of Process and Lessons Learned. Californian Journal of Health Promotion, 4(3), 80-91.