A Photography of Becoming: Re-imaging the Promise of Participatory Photography

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Participatory photography projects with marginalized groups have become commonplace. Underpinned by celebratory narratives that cast photography as an inherently empowering activity, these projects promise to give voice and enable change. However critical thinkers raise concerns around tokenism and the over-simplification of the participatory photography narrative. They point to a hollowing of the critical and radical potential of contemporary participatory and community-engaged photography. The challenge for practitioners is how to re-imagine the promise of participatory photography to account for the tension and negotiation it involves. Drawing on photography by young people living in the UK as refugees, this chapter offers the conceptual metaphor of a photography of becoming to reconceptualise the promise of participatory photography through a pluralist imagination. A photography of becoming accounts for the fluid and contrary forms of photography that emerge from participatory projects. It frames participatory photography’s potential as lying in its capacity to enable and accommodate plural ways of seeing and to nurture a critical, dialogical engagement with difference. A photography of becoming highlights the emergent, collaborative and fragile character of participatory photography while reaffirming its contribution to supporting emerging voices and claims, creating spaces for agency and resistance and making visible unheard and unrecognized stories.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContemporary Photography as Collaboration
EditorsMathilde Bertrand, Karine Chambefort-Kay
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9783031414442
ISBN (Print)9783031414435, 9783031414466
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024


  • participatory photography
  • photovoice
  • visual methods
  • Collaborative research
  • refugees


Dive into the research topics of 'A Photography of Becoming: Re-imaging the Promise of Participatory Photography'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this