Critical Visual Methodology: Photographs and Narrative Text as a Visual Autoethnography

Terry Ownby 1 *

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This paper considers how I combined unique qualitative methodologies in a recent study, which examined the construction of self-identity through photographs and narrative text as primary data, in order to develop a visual autoethnography. Critical visual methodology, grounded in Barthesian visual semiotics, was combined with traditional and non-traditional ethnographic methods to interrogate these data in order to construct the autoethnography. These data came from a gallery showing of my photographic exhibition: Wunderkammer: Specimen views of my postmodern life. The resultant analyses of narrative text and photographs revealed an underlying sub-text of significant racial encounters as well as several social and institutional ideological issues that contributed to my findings. Implications from this particular methodological design indicate usefulness not only in photography, but also in allied disciplines such as communication, education, cultural, and media studies. This form of analysis also finds a place in the broader notion of social or cultural identity.


semiotics Barthes critical visual methodology autoethnography ethnography


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Article Type: Research Article

Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 3, Issue January 2013 - Special Issue, pp. 1-24

Published Online: 01 Jan 2013

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