"I Took the Photograph Just to Show You a Little Bit of Perspective": Photo-Elicitation Interviewing With Family Caregivers in the Dementia Context


  • Angel He Wang Queen's University




Photo-elicitation interviewing (PEI) is a well-known approach in qualitative inquiry. Yet existing literature lacks sufficient information on participants' perspectives on using photographs to explicate their experiences and ways in which their captured photographs can enhance understanding of the phenomenon under study, especially in the dementia context. In this article, I report on participants' experiences of partaking in the auto-driven approach of PEI in a qualitative descriptive study on family caregiving experiences to a relative living with dementia. Five family caregivers participated in the PEI process and provided 28 photographs that represented their experiences. Using thematic analysis, an overarching theme, facilitated deeper shared understandings was identified, underpinning three main themes about the participants' experiences of PEI, i.e., it 1. promoted more in-depth reflection and new perspectives; 2. enabled richer dialogue; and 3. revealed complex and otherwise hidden experiences. Findings show that PEI is an effective method for researchers to further understand the complex and multifaceted experiences involved in caring for a relative, living with dementia. Thoughtful implementation of using participant-taken photographs in interviews can provide a richer level of understanding and the means through which family caregivers can contribute to meaning-making relevant to the relational aspects of caregiving in the dementia context.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Angel He Wang, Queen's University

Angel H. WANG is the corporate professional practice leader at a community hospital in Ontario, Canada. She received her bachelor of science in nursing and master's degree in nursing (thesis stream) from Toronto Metropolitan University, and is currently enrolled in the PhD in Nursing Program at Queen's University. Angel has experience in various roles across the nursing continuum, spanning research, education, administration, and clinical practice. She is deeply passionate about elevating nurses, nursing professional practice, and nursing scholarship to further benefit patient care as well as to enhance outcomes for nurses, organizations, and the healthcare system as a whole.


Bates, Elizabeth A.; McCann, Joseph J.; Kaye, Linda K. & Taylor, Julie C. (2017). "Beyond words": A researcher's guide to using photo elicitation in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 14(4), 459-481.

Bateson, Gregory & Mead, Margaret (1942). Balinese character: A photographic analysis. New York, NY: New York Academy of Sciences.

Boydell, Katherine; Gladstone, Brenda M.; Volpe, Tiziana; Allemang, Brooke & Stasiulis, Elaine (2012). The production and dissemination of knowledge: A scoping review of arts-based health research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 13(1), Art. 32, https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-13.1.1711 [Accessed: January 25, 2022].

Braun, Virginia & Clarke, Victoria (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101.

Braun, Virginia; Clarke, Victoria & Weate, Paul (2016). Using thematic analysis in sport and exercise research. In Brett Smith & Andrew C. Sparkes (Eds.), Routledge handbook of qualitative research in sport and exercise (pp.191-205). London: Routledge.

Burles, Meridith & Thomas, Roanne (2014). "I just don't think there's any other image that tells the story like [this] picture does": Researcher and participant reflections on the use of participant-employed photography in social research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 13(1), 185-205, https://doi.org/10.1177%2F160940691401300107 [Accessed: January 25, 2022].

Clark, Andrew & Morriss, Lisa (2017). The use of visual methodologies in social work research over the last decade: A narrative review and some questions for the future. Qualitative Social Work, 16(1), 29-43.

Clark-Ibáñez, Marisol (2004). Framing the social world with photo-elicitation interviews. American Behavioral Scientist, 47(12), 1507-1527.

Collier, John Jr. (1957). Photography in anthropology: A report on two experiments. American Anthropologist, 59, 843-859.

Colorafi, Karen Jiggins & Evans, Bronwynne (2016). Qualitative descriptive methods in health science research. Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 9(4), 16-25.

Copes, Heith; Tchoula, Whitney; Brookman, Fiona & Ragland, Jared (2018). Photo-elicitation interviews with vulnerable populations: Practical and ethical considerations. Deviant Behavior, 39(4), 475-494.

Dupuis, Sherry; McAiney, Carrie A.; Fortune, Daria; Ploeg, Jenny & de Witt, Lorna (2016). Theoretical foundations guiding culture change: The work of the Partnerships in Dementia Care Alliance. Dementia, 15(1), 85-105, https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1471301213518935 [Accessed: January 25, 2022].

Edmondson, Amanda J.; Brennan, Cathy & House, Allan O. (2018). Using photo-elicitation to understand reasons for repeated self-harm: A qualitative study. BMC Psychiatry, 18(1), 98, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-018-1681-3 [Accessed: January 25, 2022].

Evans, David; Robertson, Jacinta & Candy, Allen (2016). Use of photovoice with people with younger onset dementia. Dementia, 15(4), 798-813.

Genoe, Rebecca & Dupuis, Sherry L. (2013). Picturing leisure: Using photovoice to understand the experience of leisure and dementia. The Qualitative Report, 18(11), 1-21, https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2013.1545 [Accessed: January 25, 2022].

Glaw, Xanthe; Inder, Kerry; Kable, Ashley & Hazelton, Michael (2017). Visual methodologies in qualitative research: Autophotography and photo elicitation applied to mental health research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 16(1), 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1609406917748215 [Accessed: January 25, 2022].

Hagedorn, Mary (1994). Hermeneutic photography: An innovative aesthetic technique for generating data in nursing research. Advances in Nursing Science, 17(1), 44-50.

Harper, Douglas (2002). Talking about the pictures: A case for photo elicitation. Visual Studies, 17(1), 13-26.

Hennelly, Niamh; Cooney, Adeline; Houghton, Catherine & O'Shea, Eamon (2021). Personhood and dementia care: A qualitative evidence synthesis of the perspectives of people with dementia. The Gerontologist, 61(3), e85-e100, https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnz159 [Accessed: January 25, 2022].

Jenkings, Neil K.; Woodward, Rachel & Winter, Trish (2008). The emergent production of analysis in photo elicitation: Pictures of military identity. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(3), Art. 30, https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-9.3.1169 [Accessed: October 21, 2022]

Jonas-Simpson, Christine; Mitchell, Gail; Dupuis, Sherry; Donovan, Lesley & Kontos, Pia (2022). Free to be: Experiences of arts-based relational caring in a community living and thriving with dementia. Dementia, 21(1), 61-76, https://doi.org/10.1177%2F14713012211027016 [Accessed: January 25, 2022].

Lapum, Jennifer L.; Liu, Linda; Church, Kathryn; Hume, Sarah; Harding, Bailey; Wang, Siyuan; Nguyen, Megan; Cohen, Gideon & Yau, Terrence M. (2016). Knowledge translation capacity of arts-informed dissemination: A narrative study. Art Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal, 1(1), 259-282, https://doi.org/10.18432/R2BC7H [Accessed: January 25, 2022].

Lindauer, Allison & Harvath, Theresa A. (2014). Pre‐death grief in the context of dementia caregiving: A concept analysis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 70(10), 2196-2207.

Macdonald, Diane; Dew, Angela & Boydell, Katherine M. (2020). Structuring photovoice for community impact: A protocol for research with women with physical disability. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 21(2), Art. 16, http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-21.2.3420 [Access: October 21, 2022].

Mahoney, Diane Feeney (2010). An evidence-based adoption of technology model for remote monitoring of elders' daily activities. Ageing International, 36(1), 66-81.

Marsh, Wendy; Shawe, Jill; Robinson, Ann & Leamon, Jen (2016). Moving pictures: The inclusion of photo-elicitation into a narrative study of mothers' and midwives' experiences of babies removed at birth. Evidence Based Midwifery, 14(2), 44-48.

Meo, Analía Inés (2010). Picturing students' habitus: The advantages and limitations of photo-elicitation interviewing in a qualitative study in the city of Buenos Aires. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 9(2), 149-171, https://doi.org/10.1177%2F160940691000900203 [Accessed: January 25, 2022].

Padgett, Deborah K.; Smith, Bikki Tran; Derejko, Katie-Sue; Henwood, Benjamin F. & Tiderington, Emmy (2013). A picture is worth ...? Photo elicitation interviewing with formerly homeless adults. Qualitative Health Research, 23(11), 1435-1444.

Rath, Tom (2015). You can't be anything you want to be ... Webpage, http://www.tomrath.org/can-anything-want-myth/ [Accessed: January 25, 2022].

Rayment, Georgie; Swainston, Katherine & Wilson, Gemma (2019). Using photo‐elicitation to explore the lived experience of informal caregivers of individuals living with dementia. British Journal of Health Psychology, 24(1), 102-122.

Richard, Veronica M. & Lahman, Maria K.E. (2015). Photo-elicitation: Reflexivity on method, analysis, and graphic portraits. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 38(1), 3-22.

Ryan, Tony; Nolan, Mike; Reid, David & Enderby, Pam (2008). Using the senses framework to achieve relationship-centred dementia care services: a case example. Dementia, 7(1), 71-93.

Sandelowski, Margarete (1986). The problem of rigor in qualitative research. Advances in Nursing Science, 8(3), 27-37.

Sandelowski, Margarete (2000). Whatever happened to qualitative description?. Research in Nursing & Health, 23(4), 334-340.

Sandelowski, Margarete (2010). What's in a name? Qualitative description revisited. Research in Nursing & Health, 33(1), 77-84.

Sandhu, Amrita; Ives, Jonathan; Birchwood, Max & Upthegrove, Rachel (2013). The subjective experience and phenomenology of depression following first episode psychosis: A qualitative study using photo-elicitation. Journal of Affective Disorders, 149(1-3), 166-174.

Schwind, Jasna K. (2009). Metaphor-reflection in my healthcare experience. Aporia, 1(1), 15-21, https://doi.org/10.18192/aporia.v1i1.3059 [Accessed: January 25, 2022].

Shell, Lynn (2014). Photo-elicitation with autodriving in research with individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease: Advantages and challenges. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 13(1), 170-184, https://doi.org/10.1177%2F160940691401300106 [Accessed: January 25, 2022].

Suri, Harsh (2011). Purposeful sampling in qualitative research synthesis. Qualitative Research Journal, 11(2), 63-75.

Tao, Hong; McRoy, Susan; Kovach, Christine R. & Wang, Lin (2016). Performance and usability of tablet computers by family caregivers in the United States and China. Research in Gerontological Nursing, 9(4), 183-192.

Torre, Daniela & Murphy, Joseph (2015). A different lens: Using photo-elicitation interviews in education research. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 3(111), 1-26, https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v23.2051 [Accessed: January 25, 2022].

Wang, Angel; Newman, Kristine; Schindel Martin, Lori & Lapum, Jennifer (2022). Beyond instrumental support: Mobile application use by family caregivers of persons living with dementia. Dementia, 21(5), 1488-1510, https://doi.org/10.1177/14713012211073440 [Accessed: January 25, 2022]

Warner, Elyse; Johnson, Louise & Andrews, Fiona (2016). Exploring the suburban ideal: Residents' experiences of photo elicitation interviewing (PEI). International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 15(1), 1-9, https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1609406916654716 [Accessed: January 25, 2022].

Whitebird, Robin R.; Kreitzer, Mary Jo; Lewis, Beth A.; Hanson, Leah R.; Crain, Lauren; Enstad, Chris J. & Mehta, Adele (2011). Recruiting and retaining family caregivers to a randomized controlled trial on mindfulness-based stress reduction. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 32(5), 654-661.

Wiersma, Elaine C. (2011). Using photovoice with people with early-stage Alzheimer's disease: A discussion of methodology. Dementia, 10, 203-216.




How to Cite

Wang, A. H. (2023). "I Took the Photograph Just to Show You a Little Bit of Perspective": Photo-Elicitation Interviewing With Family Caregivers in the Dementia Context. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 24(1). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-24.1.3928