The Fathers in Focus project is a Photovoice research guided by the University of Calgary Faculty of Social Work and its community partners. It aims to show the experiences and stories of fatherhood in Alberta. Utilizing photography to explore key questions, this project hopes to help build a community of fathers who are actively engaged in learning and working with each other in creating healthy families and communities.

1. About Fathers in Focus: Orientation Video
2. Why is it relevant to you and your community?
3. What is Participatory Action Research?
4. What is Photovoice?
5. Who can participate in this research?
6. How do I participate?
7. What does the process look like?
8. The Participant Resource Portal

Orientation Video

In this orientation video, we talk about Fathers in Focus as a participatory action research, and cover a the basic concept of Photovoice, and what to expect in focus group meetings.

Why is Fathers in Focus relevant to you and your community?

Fathers in Focus aims to provide a space for men to reflect about their roles – both as men and as fathers to their children. This project will also encourage them to talk about their experiences, thoughts, or feelings and create a dialogue that will attempt to discover why, what, or how those experiences were made.

This project is important to our community as it could bring up the diverse meanings of being a father and a man, which could influence program creations or policy changes that could support healthy masculinities and strengthen family relationships.

What is Participatory Action Research (PAR)?

Participatory Action Research is a research approach where you, as a participant, is also a co-researcher in which together with other members of the community, you collectively discuss, reflect, and take actions on a given topic. In case of this research, the fatherhood role. Unlike in many traditional research that takes place inside university walls, laboratories or offices, PAR takes place within the community level. It invites people to conduct research about themselves and to deeply think about their own experiences such as their strengths, challenges, privileges, and sources of oppression.  

What is Photovoice?

Photovoice is one of the many methods used in PAR. Photovoice is a powerful tool that uses photography to express and demonstrate a community’s thoughts, to offer insights, to document events or experiences, and to invite others to see the world from their own lenses. By actively taking pictures of the world around them, the Photovoice process itself encourages participants to take time to reflect on a given topic, and later to share these thoughts – in form of images and short narratives – within their communities.

In this video, Fathers in Focus co-researcher Rita Dhungel talks about Photovoice as a unique method of conducting research.

Who can participate in this research?

To participate in Fathers in Focus, you must be:

  • 18+ years of age
  • Currently reside in Alberta
  • In a fatherhood role: Not exclusive to biological fathers. This means you provide care or responsible for raising a child or children
  • Interested in sharing your stories and experiences of fatherhood through digital photography
  • And available to attend three (3) focus group meetings between May and June (dates to be discussed among participants)

You do not need to be:

  • A professional photographer, or have experience in advanced photography
  • A career researcher
  • In ownership of a high-end digital camera (that phone will do!)
How do I participate?

Interested participants must sign-up with this form (Note: Applications are currently closed). If you get an invitation to participate in this research, you will also be provided with a consent form and links to resources that will guide you through this project.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the health and security of all participants involved in mind, meetings and interactions will be held through an online platform (Zoom) until further notice.

Related article: Using Zoom

Okay, so what do we do?

Step One: Get to Know the Research Questions (May 2021)

The research revolves around these three questions. The researchers-participants (that includes you!) aim to explore these topics through pictures and written narratives:

  • What does being a dad mean to you?
  • Does being a father change your view of being a man? (YES/NO How come?)
  • What in your life past or present (could be people, experiences, values, etc.) helped and challenged you in being a dad?

An orientation meeting for participants will be held on May 18, 2021. This is a great opportunity to get to know each other, to familiarize yourself with the research, and bring up any questions or concerns you may have to the research coordinators.

Step Two: Take Pictures (May – June 2021)

As participants, you will be given a month to reflect and take pictures that answer these questions. You will then share up to three photographs with captions/narratives that you feel describes best your perspective on each of these questions.

Members of the research team will be available should you need guidance or advice in photographing and writing your story. Videos and reading materials are also provided.

Before shooting, please do take time to read this guideline on our basic ethical responsibilities as researchers and participants of this study.

Step Three: Share Your Stories (June – July 2021)

In two focus group meetings, you will share these photographs and stories with other participants. This is a venue for reflection where you can discuss, share, and relate to each other’s experiences. Facilitators from Alberta Men’s Network and The University of Calgary will be present to provide guidance where needed. Each focus group meeting will take about 90 minutes. You are also compensated $25 for each meeting you attend.

Related article: What are focus groups?

Step Four: Take Action

Now that you’ve done the research process, it is now your time to apply what you have learned. Ask yourself what has changed with you while going through the process. Take small and big steps. Try to create or recreate your story. Be a part of your community.

Be a part of change. 

Participant Resource Portal

We’ve compiled a few articles and guides that may help you navigate the project. This includes tips and guidelines for participants who do not have prior experience in photography. Scroll down or simply click here!

Thank you so much for participating in Fathers in Focus Project. If you think you have a great idea for articles and materials that can help you and your fellow researchers-participants that we can add to this site, please let us know.

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