Drawing on debates in the complementary fields of participatory, youth and visual research methods, the paper discusses an experimental photography project carried out as part of a broader study with young people in Mexico City on spatial experience, belonging and exclusion. The paper describes the mechanics of the project, considers the kind of data it produced, and discusses the different outcomes for participants and researcher, including its difficulties and limitations. It finds that the creative, collaborative approach used has potential for opening the research process to embrace creative, reflexive, complicated “selves,” but warns that this outcome is not automatic: collaboration between visual researchers and social art therapy practitioners would be one important step in realizing the full potential of creative photography in research.


Photography, Creative Methodology, Collaborative Research, Visual Methods, Youth

Author Bio(s)

Ailsa Winton is currently Senior Researcher at El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), a research and postgraduate teaching centre in Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico. Since gaining her PhD in Geography from the University of London, she has lived and worked primarily in Mexico. Her research interests focus on youth marginalization and violence, and she is currently working on issues relating to forced mobility on the Mexico-Guatemala border. She is also interested in generating and writing about collaborative research practice. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Ailsa Winton at, ailsawinton@hotmail.com.


I am indebted to the young people who took part in this research, and to the staff of CEJUV. I am grateful to the Mexican Council of Science and Technology (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología) for funding the research on which this paper is based (grant number 117823). Thanks also to the reviewers for their useful comments.

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