Photography as an Art-Based Research Method

  • Sten Langmann
  • David Pick


The aim of this chapter is to examine the potential of photography as a means of art and to introduce the different genres of photo-narratives, documentary photography and portraiture that researchers can employ to collect data. While the chapter helps to inform social researchers about the choices they make when doing photographic research, it is also a reminder that when researchers use photographs to collect data, they simultaneously engage in acts of producing art.


Narratives Documentary Portraiture 


  1. Arima, M. (2016). ‘Career’or ‘family’? Increasing work–life balance satisfaction among Japanese physicians with and without children. Diversity and Equality in Health Care, 13(4), 290–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aubert, D. (2009). The doorstep portrait: Intrusion and performance in mainstream American documentary photography 1. Visual Studies, 24(1), 3–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Babbie, E. R. (2000). The practice of social research. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  4. Bach, H. (2007). Composing a visual narrative inquiry. Handbook of narrative inquiry: Mapping a methodology (pp. 280–307). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  5. Becker, H. S. (1974). Photography and sociology. Studies in the Anthropology of Visual Communication, 1(1), 3–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Becker, H. S. (1986). Doing things together: Selected papers. Northwestern University Press: Evanston.Google Scholar
  7. Becker, H. S. (1995). Visual sociology, documentary photography, and photojournalism: It’s (almost) all a matter of context. Visual Studies, 10(1–2), 5–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bright, S. (2015). Art photography now: Revised and expanded edition. London: Thames & Hudson.Google Scholar
  9. Chase, S. (2005). Narrative inquiry: Multiple lenses, approaches, voices. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp. 651–679). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  10. Cheroux, C. (2008). Henri Cartier-Bresson: Ein Schnappschuss und sein Meister (trans: Steinitz, C.). Mosel: Schirmer.Google Scholar
  11. Chilton, G., & Leavy, P. (2014). Arts-based research practice: Merging social research and the creative arts. The Oxford handbook of qualitative research (pp. 403–422) New York, NY: Oxford University.Google Scholar
  12. Cope, V., Jones, B., & Hendricks, J. (2015). Portraiture: A methodology through which success and positivity can be explored and reflected. Nurse Researcher, 22(3), 6–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Costello, D., & Iversen, M. (2012). Introduction: Photography between art history and philosophy. Critical Inquiry, 38(4), 679–693.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Davis, J. H. (2003). Balancing the whole: Portraiture as methodology. In P. M. Camic, H. R. Rhodes, & L. Yardley (Eds.), Qualitative research in psychology: Expanding perspectives in methodology and design (pp. 199–2017). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Free, M. (2009). Can a ‘portrait’paint a thousand scholarly words. PhD Candidate, School of Education and Professional Studies, Brisbane and Logan, Griffith University.Google Scholar
  16. Gaudelli, C. (2017). Women Boxers in Argentina. Retrieved from
  17. Goldberg, J. (1985). Rich and poor: Photographs. New York: Random House Inc.Google Scholar
  18. Gregos, K. (2006). Rochelle Costi. In T. J. Demos (Ed.), New perspectives in photography (pp. 068–069). London: Phaidon Press Limited.Google Scholar
  19. Grierson, J. (1926). Flaherty’s Poetic Moana. The documentary tradition (p. 25). New York: Norton and Co.Google Scholar
  20. Ishiyama, F. I., & Kitayama, A. (1994). Overwork and career-centered self-validation among the Japanese: Psychosocial issues and counselling implications. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling, 17(3), 167–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kawanishi, Y. (2008). On Karo-Jisatsu (suicide by overwork): Why do Japanese workers work themselves to death? International Journal of Mental Health, 37(1), 61–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ketelle, D. (2010). The ground they walk on: Photography and narrative inquiry. The Qualitative Report, 15(3), 547.Google Scholar
  23. Krieger, S. (1991). Social science and the self: Personal essays on an art form. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Marin, R., & Roldan, J. (2010). Photo essays and photographs in visual arts-based educational research. International Journal of Education through Art, 6(1), 7–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Murphy, F. (2015). Filipino boy receives scholarship after photograph of him studying on the street goes viral. (Jiuly 10, 2015). The Telegraph.Google Scholar
  26. North, S., & Morioka, R. (2016). Hope found in lives lost: Karoshi and the pursuit of worker rights in Japan. Contemporary Japan, 28(1), 59–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pelton, M. R., & van Manen, F. T. (1996). Benefits and pitfalls of long-term research: A case study of black bears in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 443–450.Google Scholar
  28. Richardson, B. (1994). I etcetera: On the poetics and ideology of multipersoned narratives. Style, 28, 312–328.Google Scholar
  29. Richardson, L., & Pierre, E. (2000). Writing: A method of inquiry. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp. 923–948). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  30. Roberts, B. (2011). Photographic portraits: Narrative and memory. In Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 2011 (Vol. 12).Google Scholar
  31. Sander, A. (1986). Citizens of the twentieth century. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  32. Smith, N., & Rock, J. (2014). Documentary as a statement: Defining old genre in a new age. Journal of Media Practice, 15(1), 58–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Snyder, J. (1980). Picturing vision. Critical Inquiry, 6(3), 499–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Suchar, C. S. (1997). Grounding visual sociology research in shooting scripts. Qualitative Sociology, 20(1), 33–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Szto, P., Furman, R., & Langer, C. (2005). Poetry and photography: An exploration into expressive/creative qualitative research. Qualitative Social Work, 4(2), 135–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wagner, J. (2004). Constructing credible images documentary studies, social research, and visual studies. American Behavioral Scientist, 47(12), 1477–1506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Willis, P. (2002). Poetry and poetics in phenomenological research. Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology, 3(1), 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Curtin UniversityPerthAustralia
  2. 2.Curtin Business SchoolPerthAustralia

Personalised recommendations