icon of camera

Research Methods:
Participatory Photography to Elicit
Life Experiences and Meaning

Research Results:
Findings, Papers,

Exhibitions & Presentations

portrait with blurred face

Stories by Person:
Collections of Stories Organized

by Location and Person

photo of wall at the border

Stories by Theme:
Collections of Stories

Organized by Theme

About the Project

Fotohistorias is a Participatory Photography method we have used in a variety of settings. The first large deployment was used to document the life stories of migrants in the North, in the South, and at the US-Mexico Border, to help surface the richness, diversity and depth of their roots, experiences, and aspirations. As an example of what de Souza Santos calls Sociology of Emergence, this project offers a counter-narrative that demonstrates the power of their determination, re-valorizes their human dignity and their contribution to society. Other deployments include work with the Tseltal indigenous community in Chiapas, Mexico as part of the project SIET, and with Latinx Stories by faculty, students and staff at the University of Washington. These later deployments are not yet included in the Stories by Person or the Stories by Theme featured above. 

In Fotohistorias elicit how immigrant day laborers, recently deported immigrants, prospective migrants, indigenous community members, and other project participants reflect on their place of origin, their values and culture through photos and stories. In particular, we seek to understand what are the essential elements of everyday life for immigrants, and how transience, identity, and culture are reflected in the pictures taken and the stories told by them.

We worked with several nonprofit organizations: Casa Latina, in Seattle, WA, and El Comedor, in Nogales, Mexico, as well as community organizations in Cali and Bahía Málaga, Colombia. We worked with One Equal Heart foundation in support of its work in Chiapas, Mexico, and also with the Latino Center for Health at the University of Washington. Members and beneficiaries of these organizations were invited to participate in the project, which included participatory photography, and life stories elicited through the photos.

The work in Nogales explored the experience of the immigrants at the turning point of their migration process, the transience of a shelter on the side of the US-Mexico border. Work in Seattle explored the experience of the immigrants as they settle in their (generally precarious) existence as day laborers. Work in Colombia explored the experience of migrants as they dreamt of migration or returned to their place of origin.