SEEK: Salford Environment for Expertise and Knowledge

Journal Article (Refereed)
January 2008

The photo-survey research method: capturing life in the city

G, M & B, C & Adams, M & Cox, T & M, R & S, S 2008, 'The photo-survey research method: capturing life in the city', Visual Studies, 23(1), pp.50-61.


 Recent promotion of city centre living within UK policy has led to a commensurate interest in city centre conditions and the opinions and experiences of the people who live there. An apposite, straightforward method to capture city centre residents' experiences and views is described in this article. We successfully combined a novel, under‐utilized visual technique (self‐directed photography) with qualitative methods (log‐sheets and interviews) in the form of a ‘photo‐survey’. A background to visual methodologies is presented in this article, alongside a critique of using the photo‐survey with 84 city centre residents to investigate environmental conditions and perceptions within three of the UK's major cities. The method provided a rich, detailed set of data, but also brought a number of noticeable benefits to the data collection process. The photo‐survey not only effectively captured and documented life in the city but also acted as an ‘agent for change’, evoking thoughts and feelings which ultimately encouraged participants to reflect on their existing perceptions and urban experiences. The study also raises some important considerations for future work undertaken with this method and with using photographs as a set of data, and proposes techniques for minimising potential problems.




SEEK Members

External Authors

Refaee, M

Moore, G

Sarples, S

Croxford, B

Publication Details

Journal Name
Visual Studies