Confessions of a Visual Sociologist Doing Photographic Research in a Soup Kitchen


This case is based on a research project that explored the question, What is learned by a visual researcher when he or she spends 1 year doing portrait photography with the homeless in an urban soup kitchen? It is a behind-the-scenes look at how a photography project played out in a church-based soup kitchen where most of the participants were Black, male, and homeless and I, the photographer, was a middle-class, middle-aged, White, female professor. I was attempting to build trust with the participants when they gave me permission to take their photographs in exchange for receiving copies to keep. I kept written and photographic notes and wrote confessions about my feelings throughout the yearlong project. The process that was employed resulted in positive relationships and me being called the “Picture Lady.”

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