Consideration of methodological issues when using photo-elicitation in qualitative research

Sarah Church*, Julie Quilter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The use of photo-elicitation interviews (PEIs) has increased in popularity across a range of disciplines including healthcare. Although qualitative researchers have embraced PEIs as a creative way to explore people's experiences of their lives and environments, the methodological and practical aspects of using photographs have received little attention in the literature.

AIM: To discuss the use of PEI techniques, including sourcing and using photographs.

DISCUSSION: The authors discuss definitions of photo-elicitation, and explore the value of and difference between using photographs taken by the researcher and those taken by participants. They consider methodological issues in the context of a small-scale focus group study that used PEIs to explore young women's conceptualisations of teenage and older motherhood.

CONCLUSION: Using photographs in research is far more complex than providing participants with cameras or presenting them with photographs. Researchers must be aware of the potential bias in the choice, selection and sequencing of photographs, as well as the methodological considerations associated with PEIs.

IMPLICATIONS: for practice This article highlights the value of using photographs in qualitative research and presents some of the methodological issues that nurse researchers need to consider when designing and conducting research using photographs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-32
Number of pages8
JournalNurse researcher
Issue number2
Early online date11 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2021


  • data collection
  • interviews
  • qualitative research
  • research
  • research method


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