Being the Facilitator

The project I am undertaking is participatory in its nature. I am working with my participants to create a book on their life, using their images and their own text. Therefore I feel my role in this project is more of a facilitator in regards to position. This is because I am more in control of the design and image selection, but I am purely telling someone else’s story rather than being able to see them and photograph them myself and create my own version of the story.

This is still a participatory approach but I am just acting more as a medium for the story to be told to so I can work with them to decide how they would like their story to be told. It is a really interesting method of working on a photography project because I am so used to being in control of the images and ensuring my own narrative, so having to use someone else’s narrative and their own way of working is quite a challenge because I have a lot less input than I normally would.

A good thing about being a facilitator means that I can tell the story as they want it to be told because I cannot put too much influence onto the story or the way it is conveyed in regards to photography and imagery because I am using their images and their words. This means the representation I am helping to show, is a representation of themselves as they see each other as well as what they want to the outer world to perceive them as.

Often migrants or other groups of people are represented in ways that aren’t necessarily true to the real story and this can leave them feeling like they have no voice and no ability to actually tell their story as they want to. Being the facilitator to tell their story, I am hoping will help me to avoid this issue of misrepresentation and lack of voice because I am purely using their own voice and their images, and I am also checking with them that they are happy with the representation of themselves that I give them.

This is one of the ways that I hope to avoid misrepresentation within my project of my subjects because I am giving most of the power back to my subjects to have the ability to edit in or edit out as well as build up the narrative in the way that want to. This gives them a degree of control that the media often does not give to these groups which is where misrepresentation is often the most abundant. Being a facilitator and a creator for their story helps to avoid this which is definitely a positive of the project! However it does make it hard for me because I lack some control which is quite similar to how  to of people must feel when the control is taken away from them in regards to their own story, so it is a good experience for me to explore.

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