Ethnography? I am embarrassed to say I never heard that word before this Doctoral program, not even once…
It’s kinda sad to have to look up your key word for the week to see what it means. But, look it up I did. Sorry to say, I still don’t fully understand what it really is. However, after trying to think more critically about it, I finally rested on a description that makes sense to me, pieced together from our author, Ms. Pink, “Visual”=using photography, video and web based media, and “ethnography”=ways of knowing and understanding experiences. 
Cool! Using visual aides to share experiences so that others may know and understand. I can do that! Inserted above is one of my favorite pictures from our Cape Town advance. Hope it helps you understand further what I experienced with those precious children. Like most of our cohort has already appropriately written, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” A picture is also worth a thousand memories…
However, I have discovered about myself, that to do “ethnography” I have to use a completely different side of my brain, like an artist. I have never been “artistic” but would rather stick to the cold hard facts. Nothing against artists or their brain activity, but my mind sometimes fogs over when we get to the touchy-feely (artsy fartsy) stuff. Am I allowed to say that here?
Actually, visual ethnography makes a lot of sense, especially in our media driven culture. The more I think about it, the more I like being able to use visual ethnology in my research for my dissertation topic about the effectiveness of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University in facilitating generosity towards the local church. Consider this photo I found in my recent research: 
How does this picture show me WAYS OF KNOWING and UNDERSTANDING EXPERIENCES? First of all, from this picture, my research might gather that Dave Ramsey is a grumpy old codger, intense and in-your-face. Not sure if that is true, so the critical side of my brain begins to ask questions like, “Is this a fair representation of Dave? Does the author of this article have a bone to pick with Mr. Ramsey? Why a pencil drawing instead of a color picture?” Come to find out, quite a few people think Dave Ramsey is mean. Others think he has truly made a positive difference in their lives. Interestingly, the author did in fact have a disagreement with Dave Ramsey, so he used a pencil drawing instead of an actual picture, perhaps to display a little more negative emotion without the reader even knowing it.
Consequently, I find myself asking myself, “Can a picture lie?“ I answer myself, “Yep!” Especially depending on your perception. I think many people lie on a daily basis as they create an “online persona” that is far from reality. I have tried to share that fact with my gullible daughter who believes everything she sees and hears on her “friends” Facebook pages.
I found myself being grateful that Dr. Jason allowed us to use this week’s book as a reference, as he encouraged us to read reviews and other print. I found something very interesting using another book from Sarah Pink titled, “Advances in Visual Methodology”  where the question was raised in my mind, “Are there INAPPROPRIATE ways to research and use visual ethnology, especially in the rapidly changing and enormous landscape of the growing power of media?” Consider this next picture: 
If this picture encouraged someone to cheat on their spouse, for sure it could be used in inappropriate ways. To a person who has been cheated on before, this picture might be terribly offensive and would probably bring up a crate full of unholy emotions. My wife just looked over my shoulder and interjected, “I won’t say what that picture makes me think.” Ouch, my point exactly!
I feel we need to be cautious in jumping too far into visual media for telling stories and for doing research. Pornography, child exploitation, degradation of women and false advertising are all terribly inappropriate uses of visual storytelling. Clare Woolhouse states in her review of Sarah Pink, “It is a well-rehearsed argument that while photographs can be portrayed as reflections of reality they are, in fact, manipulated, produced socially and staged by those who produced and annotated them, and by the choices and selections made by researchers. 
Having said all this, this week’s topic has stretched the other side of my brain and I have enjoyed being introduced to a modern–and I think interesting–tool of academia.
Having said that, I am very much looking forward to creating my own visual ethnography story of Cape Town and sharing it in blog form. I am even more looking forward to seeing all the visual ethnography of my cohort members!
 Pink, Sarah. Doing: Visual Ethnography ; Images, Media and Representation in Research. (London: SAGE, 2003), Kindle Edition, Introduction, p.1.
 Phoenix, Salmon. Save Like Dave Ramsey…Just Don’t Invest Like Him. (New York: Time Magazine Online, September 26, 2013).
 Pink, Sarah. Advances In Visual Methodology. (London: SAGE, 2012a).
 Park, McKenna. Why People Cheat On Their Spouse, According To A Relationship Expert. (Family Share Social Media, Deseret, 2014).