Photography, Storytelling, and Community Connections: How to Develop a Photovoice Project



Photovoice is a type of participatory research methodology designed to empower participants through photography and the power of storytelling in small group settings. In 2013, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) partnered with a local organization to start collecting stories from refugees and political asylum seekers about their lives in Chicago. Through photovoice, the participants got connected to their new home town by taking pictures of their daily lives, and in small group settings, they got connected to CPL and to others who have also experienced forced migration. Participants gained broader connections to other Chicagoans through the resulting exhibit and its opening event. This on-demand webinar introduces the project and its methodology, and will help you begin to design your own photovoice project.

Originally presented August 29, 2018.


Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this on-demand webinar, participants will:

  • Understand and define photovoice, a methodology used world-wide to empower and advocate for social change;
  • Increase awareness of potential partnerships with local organizations, particularly those involved in social justice work; and
  • Gain a roadmap for starting a similar project, including steps for recruiting participants, running photovoice sessions, preparing participants for the exhibit opening, and developing and marketing the exhibit.

Additional Resources

Who Should Attend

This on-demand webinar is open to everyone interested in exploring issues around programming, outreach, and/or community partnerships. It will be particularly relevant to those with an interest in services for marginalized communities or the role of visual art and storytelling in public libraries.


Mary BlackMary Black is an occupational therapist with 20 years of experience working at the Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center, a community-based treatment center for survivors of state sponsored torture. The Marjorie Kovler Center serves asylum seekers, refugees, and their families who represent over 60 nations. Mary is primarily responsible for assessing the skills, experiences, and interest’s clients bring from their home countries and collaborate with clients to maximize these assets in responsive interventions, while adapting to the challenges and resources inherent to a constructing a new life in the U.S.

Nancy Joyce CallahanNancy Joyce Callahan joined Heartland Alliance in 2008 after working in the hotel industry for 17 years. She oversees the Hospitality Training Skills Program for Refugees and Asylees and has trained and mentored over 1000 graduates, 92% of whom have obtained hotel jobs. Besides working with her students, one of her favorite roles is forging partnerships with Chicago hotels that support the trainings through guest presentations, hotel tours, mock interviewing sessions, curriculum development, and job placement of program graduates. She earned a BA from the University of Notre Dame, and has a graduate degree in French from the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Julie LynchJulie Lynch is in charge of the Northside Neighborhood History Collection at the Chicago Public Library (CPL) Sulzer Regional Library. She started at CPL in 2000 and has worked in this role since 2005. From 2013–2015, Julie was part of the International Network of Emerging Library Innovators, a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation initiative. She has been volunteering at a library in a girls’ school in South Sudan since 2011. Julie graduated with a MA in library science from the University of Iowa and a MA in history from DePaul University.

WamishoWamisho participated in the Forced Migration Photovoice Project in 2016 and looks forward to sharing his experience in the project.

TGTG participated in the Forced Migration Photovoice Project in 2014 and looks forward to sharing her experience in the project.



This on-demand webinar is free and available 24/7 for your viewing convenience.

How to Register

No registration is required.

Tech Requirements

To playback this archived webinar you should have either the latest version of Flash running on your computer, or use a browser with native HTML5 support. Please use the most up-to-date version available of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer. A fast Internet connection and computer is recommended.

Credits or CEUs

PLA does not award credit hours, or CEUs, for its on-demand webinars and cannot verify participation.


If you have questions or problems accessing a recording, send a message to or call 800-545-2433 ext. 5PLA (5752).