Photography as a Performance


  • Gunilla Holm University of Helsinki



photography, performance, visual research methods, visual language


This is a study of photography as performance and as an ethnographic research and dissemination method. This project was part of a qualitative research methods course where doctoral students learned to collect and analyze visual data as well as what happens when they engage in a study of their own lives using photography as the main tool. Photographs, taken by the students, with short titles, constituted the only data. Analysis of the photographs without any text proved to be difficult. Written statements in addition to the titles complementing the photographs would have helped in creating the context for understanding the photographs and thereby more clearly communicating the intent of the photographers. The results indicate that an ethnography study based only on photographs would not be possible. Photography needs to be used together with other kinds of data. However, the making and presentation of the photographs allowed the students to construct and perform visually their identities as doctoral students. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0802380


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Author Biography

Gunilla Holm, University of Helsinki

Dr. Gunilla HOLM is a Professor of Education, Department of Education, University of Helsinki. Professor Holm's research interests are focused on qualitative research methods as well as issues in education related to race, ethnicity, class and gender. She has also published widely on adolescent cultures and on schooling in popular culture. Her publications include the following co-edited books: Contemporary Youth Research: Local Expressions and Global Connections; Imagining Higher Education: The Academy in Popular Culture; and Schooling in the Light of Popular Culture. Among her recent articles and chapters are: Visual Research Methods: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?; Urban Girls' Need to Be Heard; Teaching in the Dark: The Geopolitical Knowledge and Global Awareness of the Next Generation of American Teachers; and The Sky is Always Falling: [Un]Changing Views on Youth in the U.S. Shawn BULTSMA, assistant professor, Grand Valley State University; Fatma AYYAD, Hong Yan CUI, Maxine GILLING, Hang Hwa HONG, John HOYE, Fang HUANG, Robert KAGUMBA, Julien KOUAME, Michael NOKES, Brandy SKJOLD, Hong ZHONG, and Curtis WARREN are doctoral students at Western Michigan University.




How to Cite

Holm, G. (2008). Photography as a Performance. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(2).