“First impressions often end up defining something/someone. When you look at the photos taken, what do you see? What does the image say to you, make you feel or think? Do you see the message intended to be shared through an image or do you need to look beyond the initial impression?”
The work shares with the broader community what day-to-day life is like with a criminal record. The goal is to raise awareness about the institutional and often invisible barriers preventing authentic community integration post-incarceration and decrease stigma for people who have been labelled as criminals.
Photovoice is a type of research that is done with communities instead of on or about them. The three main goals of Photovoice are to: empower community members to share their story, have in-depth discussions about important issues displayed in the photographs and to involve community stakeholders to create social change. Photographs represent a person’s experience and are arranged to tell a collective story.
As co-researchers in a Photovoice group, we met weekly for 10 weeks to discuss the meaning and importance behind pictures we took. In-depth discussions led to debate, learning and common understanding about our shared experiences. Through this process, challenges and issues in our day-to-day lives became clear and informed potential actions for social change.
The Collaborative Story Map
The purpose of this book is to share our work with the broader community to help others understand, from our perspective what the day-to-day is like for men with a criminal record living in the community. We hope that by sharing our collective experiences, stigma we face will be decreased. By reaching out to policy makers and local stakeholders, we aim to raise awareness about the institutional, and often invisible, barriers preventing authentic community integration.
Our final display takes the shape of a Collaborative Story Map. At the centre lies the theme of our work, “The Cards You Are Dealt” (page 12). Groupings of photos marked by green squares or white circles are individual perspectives. This is where each group member felt their personal story fit within the Collaborative Story Map. The photo above acts as a visual table of contents so you can easily navigate to individual stories. All work that is not in a green square or a while circle are Collective Curations (page 10); the collective story that our individual perspectives branch from.
Stories presented in this book are from the perspective of people with first hand experience of the criminal justice system. Feeling beaten down by a corrupt system has shaped who we are. We understand injustice and the power that honest community initiatives have in maintaining hope. A glossary of key terms defined from our perspective, references and further readings can be found at the end of the book while we begin with an account of The Daily Life inside a penal institution.