Photo-Sharing After a Life Disruption

Experience-centred design has focused on enriching emotional and relational aspects of technology use in people’s everyday lives. However, recent research in designing for sensitive areas of human experience has also focused on technology use in what might be considered difficult emotional life transitions, such as divorce, illness, bereavement and experiences of violence. Research that focuses on sensitive emotional experiences act as valuable critiques of how the use of everyday technology, such as mobile phones and social networking, can present both challenges in managing privacy but also provides opportunities for re-connection and the ongoing support of meaningful existing and new relationships. Understanding the particularities of these contexts and the nuanced potential of supportive technology use offers useful strategies to reconfigure more sensitive situated approaches to technology design.

My PhD research is on understanding the role photography plays after life disruption. Focusing on the disruption prompted by intimate partner and domestic violence, I am exploring ways of supportively designing technologies for photo-sharing. At the heart of the inquiry is the question of how methodologically and practically researchers engage in sensitive design processes that seek to open up spaces for alternative understandings of technologies, such as photography and particular emotional and enriching experiences and challenges this presents for individuals and support groups. I have been working with an international women’s centre and charity where women from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee backgrounds, access skills, training and social support. Working with a narrative inquiry approach, I have been running workshops with women who have had experiences of domestic violence, using photography creatively as part of arts and crafts, digital storytelling and digital portrait sessions. The research has highlighted the importance of the particularities of relationships between women and staff and how this shapes an interconnected practice of photo-taking, sharing and reflection in the context of the centre. Taking the particularities of the women’s relationships as a starting point, I have developed a critical photo-sharing prototype, the Photo-parshiya; a digital photo-album designed to explore alternative approaches to photo-sharing within semi-public third sector organisations.


Start Date: October 2010

Project Supervisor: Peter Wright, Areti Galani (School of Arts and Culture), Jayne Wallace, and Patrick Olivier.

Funding: EPSRC

Collaborators: Angelou Centre, John McCarthy (University College Cork ,UCC)