Auto-Photography. Challenges

There are several practical challenges for using auto-photography in human geographic research. These include the cost of cameras and film development, the likelihood that photo quality will be poor and inconsistent, and the possibility that participants will drop out of the research project over time. Conceptual challenges also exist. In human geography there is very little theoretical or conceptual work on auto-photography or analysis of photographs stemming from use of this method. Challenges do arise as geographers integrate this method into their research. First, although the photograph is a two dimensional object, ways of seeing and the visual itself are never neutral or flat. The photographs are representations of complex spatialities and subjects that are imbued with social regulation and power. The photograph is a moment in time and space, but that space is unbounded, multidimensional, and even contradictorily experienced and produced. Second, although the auto photograph is produced by a research subject, it is important to remember that the product of this method is still largely controlled by the researcher. The question of who holds the authority of the data is rarely questioned, and this is an area where further debate is needed in geography. Third, researchers should remember that not everyone has the same cultural, social, and economic background in using photography or other technologies of the visual. They must think about the social and geographic contexts of images, photography, viewing, and technological knowledge. Whatever the challenges that exist, however, visual methodologies are rapidly becoming widely utilized, studied, and debated in human geography. As the development of digital photography and video progresses, and digital technologies become more affordable, the use of auto-photography will continue to expand the boundaries of human geographic research.