Looking through, looking at and looking behind: using photos in research interviews

Zelma Bone

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

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    The photographs, taken by one of the participants, had the power to elicit information that would not have been gained in a traditional verbal interview.The potential for photographs to be used in business-related research seems endless, as photographs can capture the historical and contemporary world of business. The photograph is applicable to business research because accounting, management and photographs share common features of portraying people, events and processes, and communication between present and past. As a result of this project, the business academics are more informed about the use and value of PEIs as they have had first-hand experience. Many have expressed an interest in considering using photographs in future projects. They have seen that this methodology would be useful to extract meaningful information from people and to minimise the awkwardness that sometime happens when interviewing.Revisiting the writing group and the associated writing retreat through the use of PEI highlighted the importance of collegiality and collaboration in the potentially isolating academic environment. Activities like this emphasise the key objectives of furthering the research agenda within the university, sharing ideas with colleagues, benefits of learning about different research methods, and collaborating on research projects. This study also emphasised the importance of considering academics‟ interpretations of their experiences when generating policies about developing quality teaching and learning in business disciplines.Visual methods, for example, photographs are used in many disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, and psychology, but they are not widely used in business research. Four years ago, photographs were taken to capture the writing group experiences of nine business academics at an Australian university. Partly assisted by this photographic archive, the researcher re-visited and interviewed the writing group participants. The aim of this study was multi-faceted: to capture the experiences of being part of the writing group and the writing retreat; to evaluate the value of the photograph in assisting recall of these experiences; to introduce business colleagues to the use and potential of photos in the research interview; and ultimately, to consider and encourage wider use of photos in their business research.This study uses photo elicitation interviews (PEI) using a phenomenological and narrative perspective with business academics to evoke recall of the writing retreat. The PEIs investigated the images to construct the internal (content of the image) narrative and the external (social context and social relationships) narrative. „Looking through‟ refers to the image content as if looking through a window at a set of objects (Parker, 2009). What can we see? „Looking at‟ is an examination of the way the content of the image is presented, for example, the use of light, arrangement of items. Finally, we gain understanding the context by „looking behind‟; looking more deeply at the photographs and stories they are eliciting from the participants (Parker 2009). When introducing photographs part-way through the interview process the immediate „rush of emotion‟ was tangible. Responses became more graphic and more detailed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationECRM 2013 Proceedings
    Place of PublicationPortugal
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 2013
    EventEuropean Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies - University of Minho, Guimaraes, Portugal
    Duration: 04 Jul 201305 Jul 2013
    http://www.proceedings.com/18569.html (proceedings)


    ConferenceEuropean Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies
    Internet address


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