Children can sometimes find it difficult to articulate their experiences if they have to rely solely on words. Giving children the opportunity to use arts-based research approaches can support their participation in research and create a bridge that enables them to express their perspectives and feelings. This paper focuses on the ethical and practical considerations when using photo elicitation interviews (PEI) in research with children. The discussion and examples provided are drawn from an international study that used auto-driven PEI, where photographs are taken by children themselves, to explore children’s experiences of living with a chronic condition and the impact condition management may have on their everyday lives. In this paper we critically explore the issues arising from our use of PEI including children’s participation and engagement, balancing power and control, and keeping children safe. The main areas of focus for the paper are how the PEI provided a means of shifting control; how setting photographic boundaries influenced our PEI study with children; and how we addressed risks associated with the method. Our experience shows that PEI is an engaging and valuable research method, providing a powerful medium for obtaining rich data with children. However, PEI is challenging and it requires researchers to conscientiously address ethical and practical aspects that extend beyond those inherent to standard (wordsalone) interviews.
- photo-elicitation interviews