Introduction to Cameras

Introduction to Cameras

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    • Melisa Maida

      May 25, 2021, 11:54 am

      After seeing the video, I think I am going to try to source digital cameras for the group. Originally, I thought I might let them use their phones if they had one with cameras and source cameras for those who didnt have cameras on their phones. However, after reflection I think this could bring some division in the group and highlight inequalities so it might be better if everyone gets the same tool to use. I think a basic small digital camera will be easy to use, less intrusive than a bigger camera and will allow the participants to quickly learn how to use it. There is still a level of intrusivity that perhaps a phone camera will be have less off due to it being so common this days to use phones.
      I think I would like to leave the cameras with the participants, but I am undecided. I was thinking that perhaps the cameras could be left with me to use in future projects so that other people can benefit from taking part in such project. However, I can see how leaving the cameras with the participants can help be of benefit to the participants who will be able to use the camera to continue with their photography journey or as tool to voice their concerns or opinions. I know of a charity that gives cameras for free to those affected by homelessness or displacement. However, I dont know if the cameras might be all different I could possibly get some small pots of funding for this. I wonder if you could advice on potential ways of sourcing cameras and what digital cameras are easy to use but also produce decent pictures. Thanks

    • Thilo Kroll

      May 25, 2021, 1:11 pm

      The video was very helpful to clarify the choices available. In the past, I would have entertained the idea of disposable cameras but the points made about what ‘disposable’ may insinuate to participants is very well taken. Moreover, disposable cameras contain a lot of waste and leave a very questionable environmental footprint. The choice of a simple point and shoot camera seems most sensible. I appreciate the wide use of smartphones and some people would prefer to use a device that they are familiar with to carrying additional devices. However, as you are pointing out in the video, camera quality varies and inequities may emerge in the context of a project purely as a result of the available equipment. In addition, data protection and online photo transmission would be a concern. I thought about a few additional considerations while watching the video. Accessibility is one of them. Cameras need to be user-friendly. People who experience difficulties with dexterity, small buttons etc. would not be able to use some of the point-and-shoot cameras. So, it may be helpful to involve individuals representing the target population in the choice of an appropriate camera. Similarly, most simple digital cameras have disposed of the viewfinder, which I personally find quite irritating. Lighting conditions at times render the LCD displays useless. I would always aim for selecting a camera that also has a viewfinder (although this is adding costs). Choosing one camera has also the advantage of a possible bulk buy with reduced costs, warranties and easier tech support as required.
      I absolutely support the idea of leaving the camera with participants. As you point out in the video, participants learn and develop key skills as part of the project that may be transferable to other personal and professional areas in their lives. They develop visual literacy and have a tool to document their individual and community lives.

    • Niamh O'Callaghan

      May 25, 2021, 2:57 pm

      Thank you for a very informative video. The choice of a digital camera seems most appropriate for the project however originally, I was going to go let the participants use their smartphones. After seeing this video, now I am on the fence! As highlighted, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. I am worried the use of a smartphone could introduce inequalities in the group and variation to photo quality, thus it would be better if everyone gets the same tool to use. I would prefer the use a digital camera as it would be less intrusive and easy and exciting to use for the participants. Saying this, I also know our project as restrictive funding therefore I think sourcing digital cameras may be challenging for us. Maybe buying them in bulk would be cheaper but cost is a worry I have.

      Our project with cancer survivors will be online due to the pandemic and as this cohort is vulnerable maybe they would be comfortable using their own devices. For smartphone use, we would have to consider a number of risks: equality, group dynamic, ethical considerations (consent before sharing) (less control) and online photo transmission would be a concern. It would be very important in the workshops to clearly emphasize on ethics, consent and dissemination. A safeguarding procedure would have to be implemented for the group. (I may need suggestions on this?)

      I love the idea of leaving the camera with participants, if digital is the option I hopefully can go with. The participants are going to learn and develop skills as part of the project which may be transferable to other sectors in their lives.

    • Tiffani Luethke

      May 25, 2021, 9:08 pm

      I like the idea of providing “point and shoot” digital cameras to participants and allowing them to keep the cameras after the project has ended. However, this is still a costly endeavor and securing funding can take time.

      Are there instances when it may be appropriate or acceptable to ask participants to provide photographs that they have previously taken as part of a project?

    • Kelly Walsh

      May 25, 2021, 9:20 pm

      The video was really helpful as I’d originally thought camera phones would be the best approach. Now, I think, where possible, I’d try to build the cost of digital cameras into the project. I think there are different considerations for the different groups I’m likely to work with. With young people, I think the point about highlighting inequalities is particularly relevant – although it might not be intentionally negative, it’s possible that young people will comment on and draw attention to the differences which may leave some young people feeling uncomfortable. I also wonder if giving young people something different to their phone, which they’re likely to use to take photos daily, might help them to think slightly differently / more mindfully about the photos they’re taking. The downside is the cost as project budgets are often tight. I’m also interested in what young people might think of these digital cameras – might they see them as dated? Might the lack of easy editing/filters etc. frustrate them?

      If working with charity staff I’d perhaps be more likely to use camera phones but would discuss this with the team before the workshop.

      I like the recommendation to leave the cameras with participants. This feels appropriate and like it would encourage a sense of ownership over the process and the photos.

    • Kate Spelman

      May 25, 2021, 9:34 pm

      I am hoping to use simple point and shoot cameras for my project, for the reasons mentioned in the video. They are simple (relatively speaking!), and easy to use – and they’ve also been around for quite some time, so older adults like the folks I work with are more likely to have some familiarity with them. (Compare this to a smartphone where there’s an update every few years and even experienced users have to re-learn some things!)

      I would really prefer to leave cameras with participants, again for the reasons mentioned above – I would love to have participants continue to take photos and use their skills to advocate for themselves and their communities! However, that may not be possible with the funding sources I will be using – they could be considered “incentives,” which would make them inelligible for some federal (US) funds.

      Another thing I’ve thought about is working with public libraries, which in my area often have tech lending libraries. I was thinking we could source a number of cameras that would remain with the library after the project – which would mean that the cameras remain in the community, but not necessarily in the possession of individuals. Still, the participants could have access to the cameras through their library card, and might even be called upon as “experts” to help others learn to use them throug the same facility.

    • Candice Salyers

      May 26, 2021, 1:48 am

      I had originally planned to have participants use their phones, but after watching the video, I am hesitant to do so. Variations in phone technology can greatly impact the quality of photograph that participants are able to take, and participants may begin comparing their own access to technology when looking at each other’s photos instead of considering compositional elements. I certainly do not want anyone to feel at a disadvantage, so if I could obtain identical point and shoot digital cameras for everyone, I would prefer to do so.
      I really appreciate the intention of leaving the camera with participants. Do other technological needs that accompany the use of a digital camera (such as having access to a computer) ever become an issue, though? I can imagine that some communities that I will be working with would be able to continue taking photographs if they retain the cameras, but they might not be able to do anything with the photographs. The advantage of camera phones for some of those communities is that they can directly share their photographs to social media from their phones.

    • Emma Winslet

      May 26, 2021, 11:54 am

      To start, I found the video extremely informative and helpful – and it highlighted areas to be mindful of that I had not yet thought to cover. Within workshops, I have been very focused on the experience and the session itself in terms of content and planning, that I had not yet sat and really thought about the importance of the TYPE of camera used.

      In these covid times, I have used disposables in a few sessions due to ease and the fact that they can be posted to participants on doorsteps. Otherwise, my workshops normally center around some sort of ‘photo walk’, getting out into nature and immersing in the world around you. For this, we at Fotonow are lucky to have access to a number of what we call ‘edu cams’, fairly straightforward point and shoot DSLR’s. Therefore a kind of hybrid of two of the digital cameras suggested in the video.

      I have thought on discrepancies in terms of finishing a project and ‘leaving’ with the cameras, but had not considered yet the possibility of getting funding to purchase digital cameras to leave with participants. I think this would really benefit groups who we work with from Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support, and other communities who would only have access to smartphones at varying degrees of quality.

      I think the concern would be setting a precedent that everyone we work with would have cameras, as a fairly small community in Plymouth. But I think this could be assessed between groups.

      I think an important consideration that I will take from this is the disposables, and whether to use them in projects in the future.

    • Tricia Jenkins

      May 26, 2021, 1:27 pm

      Very useful. I’ve been having exactly the same discussions in terms of equipment and digital storytelling and participatory video.

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