Through their Eyes: Using Photovoice and Photo Elicitation in Research with LGBQ Older Adults

By Jarmin Christine Yeh.

Published by The International Journal of Aging and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

By articulating the methods of this pilot study, this article makes the case that photovoice and photo elicitation are useful methods for exploring the lived experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) older adults in San Francisco. Participants were asked to identify and represent their environments by recording them with disposable cameras. The photographs served as catalysts for conversation and were robust platforms for articulation of their taken-for-granted, varied, and/or hidden cultural practices, social processes, and social and spatial relations. These approaches affirmed the ingenuity and perspectives of the participants by allowing them to depict the community’s needs and assets, and re-distributed ownership of the research with participants in the construction of discourses on aging. Through rigorous narrative and visual analysis of participants’ interviews and photographs, a description emerged of urban space as both a site of queer culture and as one of the many possible milieus for growing older. Themes discussed include the way in which space and place are productive of particular outcomes for LGBQ older adults living in San Francisco, as well as shaped by them in the way aged-identities and queer-identities are embodied, emerge, are enacted, and emplaced. The strengths and limitations of using photovoice, photo elicitation, and visual research methods are also discussed.

Keywords: Visual Research Methods, Photovoice, Photo Elicitation, Geo-tagging, Mapping, Qualitative Methods, LGBTQ, Urban Space

Aging and Society: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.85-106. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 15.296MB).

Jarmin Christine Yeh

Graduate Student, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences , Institute for Health and Aging, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA

I am a medical sociology doctoral student at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and work as a researcher at the Institute for Health and Aging at UCSF on projects related to Alzheimer’s disease, interventions for caregivers of people with dementia, and active modes of school transport to combat childhood obesity. I serve the National Center on Senior Transportation’s Coalition on Mobility Needs of Culturally and Ethnically Diverse Elders, and the leadership councils of the American Society on Aging’s (ASA) Network for Multicultural Aging, and Students to Emerging Professionals constituent groups. I am alum of the ASA’s New Ventures in Leadership Program, during which time I conducted a project examining the walkability of neighborhoods in San Francisco for Asian immigrant older adults. I was a past planning co-chair of the American Public Health Association’s Healthy Communities for Healthy Aging Forum from 2009–2010, and worked at the New York Academy of Medicine on developing the workforce of geriatric social workers from 2006–2010. I have Masters degrees in social work and public health from Columbia University, and a Bachelor’s degree in social welfare from the University of California, Berkeley.