Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Doing Visual Ethnography

Written by: on September 14, 2016


The author has written on this subject before and based on the current technology, she decided to update her writing to include these new era of ideas. She stated that this book maybe geared more toward researchers. This statement encouraged me to be more attentive to what was written. I must admit, I struggled to retain my interest with some parts of the book.

Pink reflected from her preparation experience in writing about women bullfighters. She included inserts of photos she used along with her text caption. She included other writers point of views to help explain the ethnography process.

Ethnography I found to be the branch of anthropology dealing with the scientific description of individual cultures. (Free Dictionary) Pink identifies this as a process which intertwines the visual and text together to present a unique and complete understanding of the text by the reader. This appears on the surface simple but the author states there are two things to consider when using the visuals: its’ relevance and how it engages with its disciplines (academic or interdisciplinary). The question the writer must consider is how the reader will interpret the visual. She gave an example of how a person feels about a cause would affect their view of your writing. As it related to her photo of the women bullfighter, some may not like bullfighting, or do not believe women should be in such a dangerous sport, etc.

The author states the writer should initially start their research online utilizing websites, blogs, forums, and others which incorporate visuals in their presentation. (53) This will assist in helping you with techniques, poses, and focuses in preparation of your presentation.  Visuals ethnography includes photographs and videos. The photographs tell a story and should include captions to help explain your view. The researcher should take photos which help them relate to their research to their subject.  Photos of individuals can lead to additional facts and details from the subject(s) when they see themselves in the photo. The videos are challenging, it has to capture and maintain the viewer’s interest. One should edit the video to include expressive imagery assist in telling the story. (119)

Pink provided seven concepts that can be helpful to determine the effective process to use. They are: interactivity, temporal structure, social cues, storage, replicability, reach, and mobility. (124)  When you are using text and ethnography in an academic setting, one should not be naive in using the combination. She states that there are multiple ways to intertwine the ethnographic process using photos, and videos in a constructive arrangement. (173)  There are many ways photos can be laid out within the text. (175)

This book was one to assist us during our preparation of our academic research to include visual presentations in various ways to capture the readers view. This was a hard read for me but I was able to distract information that captured by view. All of the various terminology of ethnography was an overload for me.  I did enjoy the photos she included in the book.

Lynda Wright Gittens


About the Author

Lynda Gittens

7 responses to “Doing Visual Ethnography”

  1. Yes, the photos were a nice reprieve from the constant barrage of information. Could have used more of them, don’t you think? I liked your definition of ethnography. Clear, simple and concise. Nice summary.

  2. This book was a great reference book on how to theoretically frame how we can implement an ethnological form of methodology that is continually changing in it adaption to new adaptive digital technological. As you are formulating your research, do you see this method as a useful resource in assisting you in accomplishing your research goals?

  3. Mary Walker says:

    How wonderful that we have computers! The sky is the limit for visuals. We have so much to choose from. Truly we live in an amazing time.
    Cell phones produce incredible videos! I wonder how many we’ll get in London?

  4. Lynda Gittens says:


    The wheels are turning! I have to ensure that I don’t overwhelm the project with visuals and it loses its affect. So balance, balance, balance.
    I am creative by nature. It can become a challenge. smile

  5. Lynda,
    Thanks for the honest post. I really appreciate the willingness to admit what you learned and where you struggled.

  6. Katy Lines says:

    “She stated that this book maybe geared more toward researchers. This statement encouraged me to be more attentive to what was written.” Because our author has studied & written prolifically in her field, she enters this text with some basic assumptions that the reader will have knowledge of terms and concepts that we do not necessarily have, as we are not ethnographic anthropologists. I would take heart that much of what she said implies insider knowledge into ethnographic anthropology. Still, as outsiders, we can glean some helpful nuggets.

  7. Jim Sabella says:

    It was a challenging read for me too. Enjoyed your review Lynda.

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