Tamara Aepli, 2019





This project idea aims to address pictures of social groups that have little say about their representation in public. The study of identities shown in media communications, such as journalism, charity advertisements and travel reports, revealed discriminatory narratives. These include, for example, represented individuals from foreign countries or marginalised groups. The critique led to the question of how an ethical design process can change the narratives of communication design to reflect different realities better?

Participatory photography has emerged as a best practice method of image creation. The methodology promises that images are not created about, but with the people depicted and thus consciously incorporate their point of view. The process reduces unequal power positions in storytelling and prevents biased, discriminatory reporting. The research part of this thesis examines the promises of participatory photography in literature and online research, as well as participation in photo workshops with refugees and the visit of a panel discussion about humanitarian communication. Exchange with other practitioners refined a solution for the Swiss market, which is introduced in the business part of the thesis.

offscreen is a non-profit association that carries out participatory photography projects and increases its expertise in intercultural visual and ethical storytelling. Besides, a business is being developed, which fills the gap in the market to offer participatory methods and ethical design. The services are aimed at organisations, companies and fundraising agencies. With both interventions, offscreen fosters intercultural dialogue and builds visual literacy skills. It combines design, visual art and photography with social projects.

Image from Workshop of participatory photography
Workshop of participatory photography