The Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education is proud to present the Shifting Focus: Snapshots of Resilience photography exhibit. Shifting Focus is the result of a photovoice project within a larger five-year study titled “Trauma at the Root: Exploring Paths to Healing with Formerly Incarcerated Men” aimed at raising trauma awareness and fostering resilience among men who have been incarcerated. We invite you to view the exhibit and a short film about the project here: www.shifting-focus.com
The project, led by Dr. Chris Richardson, is a partnership between the Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education and the John Howard Society of Canada. Learn more about the project here.
The photovoice project took place between February and October 2020. The project was intended as an opportunity for participants, all formerly incarcerated men, to apply the knowledge they gained in a trauma and resilience awareness workshop they previously attended as part of our larger project. The participants met as a group once a week for four weeks to learn how to use digital cameras (provided by the project) and photography basics. Each session included lunch, a discussion of each participant’s work from the week prior, and a new photo assignment.
After the fourth session, held March 13, 2020, we suspended all research activities due to COVID-19. This included additional group sessions and photo assignments. In July 2020, we were able to resume limited activities but did not hold any additional group sessions. Following COVID-safe procedures, participants were encouraged to continue to take photos using the prompts they had already been given. We met with each participant to collect their final photographs and from these collections, we selected 10 – 12 photos for photo elicitation interviews. These in-depth discussions took place over the course of two meetings with each participant. We selected a final six to eight photos for each participant and drafted photo captions based on the discussion transcripts. All of the photos and captions included in the Shifting Focus exhibit and book were edited and approved by each participant.
Participants contributed thoughtfully to this project to create collections that express their own resilience through trauma. By sharing their stories, they are challenging the stigma associated with incarceration and substance use. Their hard work demonstrates the importance of engaging men in strength-based activities that encourage peer connections and ultimately, foster further resilience.