This website aims to provide:

  • a starting point and resource centre for coaches who want to explore photo-voice coaching, and
  • a discussion forum for coaches who want to contribute to developing  this coaching method by sharing their experiences and what they are learning from using it.

Photo-voice coaching, or photo-elicitation coaching, draws on the photo-voice or photo-elicitation qualitative social research method, and applies it to coaching.

Preliminary work suggests that it is a powerful coaching tool in several ways. It can

  • help build rapport between coach and participant
  • help quickly identify areas of concern, goals, strengths, inhibiting factors and options
  • provide new perspectives from which coaching participants can consider issues
  • assist coaching participants to see things from the balcony position and develop new narratives.

In social research, the method asks people to take informal photos about things that matter to them, and then uses the photos to prompt discussion about their concerns and how they can address them. The photos aim to identify and draw out things that matter to each person, and to share, clarify and develop these in discussion with others. It “mines deeper shafts into a deeper part of human consciousness than do words alone interviews” (Douglas Harper 2002:23). As a research method it is relatively new and developing, and has mostly  been used in areas such as organization studies, education and social action.

It was first introduced as a new method in the coach’s tool kit at the 4th Evidence Based Coaching Conference, University of Sydney, Australia, in June 2010.

A work in progress

As a new addition to  coaching practice, the photo-voice method is definitely a work in progress. Your contributions to this website, detailing your experiences using it, other related literature, ideas and research can all help it develop.

In particular, there are similar or related methods used in counselling and therapeutic disciplines. At this stage these are not included here because the initial work on photo-voice coaching was done by Michael Muetzelfeldt, whose background is in social sciences.  We hope that people in that wider range of disciplines will contribute to this site, to add depth and breadth to the material here.

Photo-voice coaching or photo-elicitation coaching?

In qualitative social research, both terms are used more or less interchangeably.

In coaching, ‘photo-voice’ recognises that working with photos gives the coaching participant a new or extended voice with which to express different or deeper concerns, perspectives and solutions. This is attractive because it recognises that  the coaching participant is at the centre of the process. Also, ‘voice’ is a well understood word, without the technical or academic connotations of ‘elicitation’.

However, current use of the method shows that one of its strong advantages is that coaching participants more quickly get to core issues, and consider them from more perspectives, than in most coaching work. The method can elicit more, and more quickly, and ‘photo-elicitation’ recognises this.

On balance, this site currently uses the banner  ‘photo-voice coaching’, but happily accepts the use of ‘photo-elicitation coaching’ by those who prefer it.