Photo Essays

The use of pictures in teaching undergraduate students about religious diversity can help to suspend stereotypes, especially when it comes to emotionally charged topics. These photo essays provide visual stories of how religion is woven into the everyday lives of some Canadians. Viewers can reflect on the suggested questions, read about the perspectives of the participants and researchers on the topics raised by the photo essays, as well as access information on related publications.

General Instructions for Using the Photo Essays

These can be followed individually or in a group setting like a university class.

  1. Before reading any of the texts that accompany the photo essays, look at the pictures.
  2. Take ample time (several minutes) to view each image in the photo essay, paying attention the details in the individual photos.
  3. Note interesting details (colour, objects, symbols, facial expressions, context) in each photo that strike you – what do you think they mean?
  4. Take note of the relationship between objects and people in the photos – describe the relationships that you observe.
  5. What specific feelings do particular images elicit in you?
  6. How would you describe your impression of the photo essay as a whole?
  7. How might you describe the process or situation depicted in the photo essay?
  8. Does this process or situation relate to any experiences that you have had?
  9. What questions would you like to ask a person or the people in the photos?
  10. Read the texts (synopsis, interview, scholarly commentary, and questions for students) to learn more about the theme of the photo essay.
  11. Use the “links to the literature” to learn more about the particular topic and its relationship to understanding religious diversity in Canada.

Using a Photo Essay in a Course

Learn how Cathy Holtmann has used the photo essay “On the Outside” in her undergraduate sociology courses on Methods of Social Research at the University of Saskatchewan as part of an in-class exercise on qualitative research methods. For more information, please click here.

Photo Essays