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Louisa Allen

This chapter is concerned with the use of photo methods in educational research. It addresses the questions ‘What differentiates photo methods from more conventional forms of data collection?’, ‘How, and for what purpose, have photo methods been utilised by educational researchers?’ and ‘What challenges might researchers employing photo methods face?’ While the use of photo methods in disciplines like anthropology and geography is more routine, this form of data collection is relatively new within education. The chapter discusses how the ‘pictorial turn’ in the social sciences has drawn attention to the capacities of photo methods to enhance educational data collection. These benefits include the ability to capture material and spatial aspects of a research context, encouraging participants to converse about difficult topics, and the capacity to elicit feelings and otherwise forgotten memories. The chapter also provides an overview of different types of photo methods where images are sourced by either the researcher or participant, and whether these are found (i.e. existing photographs) or generated (i.e. captured by participant or researcher). Some of the challenges involved in using photo methods are also discussed, including gaining ethics approval, anonymising photo subjects, and whether cameras are an empowering research tool for participants.