• Necessary connections: “Feelings photographs” in criminal justice research

      Rogers, Chrissie (2020)
      Visual representations of prisons and their inmates are common in the news and social media, with stories about riots, squalor, drugs, selfharm and suicide hitting the headlines. Prisoners’ families are left to worry about the implications of such events on their kin, while those incarcerated and less able to understand social cues, norms and rules, are vulnerable to deteriorating mental health at best, to death at worst. As part of the life-story method in my research with offenders who are on the autism spectrum, have mental health problems and/or have learning difficulties, and prisoner’s mothers, I asked participants to take photographs, reflecting upon their experiences. Photographs in this case, were primarily used to help respondents consider and articulate their feelings in follow-up interviews. Notably, seeing (and imagining) is often how we make a connection to something (object or feeling), or someone (relationships), such that images in fiction, news/social media, drama, art, film and photographs can shape the way people think and behave – indeed feel about things and people. Images and representations ought to be taken seriously in researching social life, as how we interpret photographs, paintings, stories and television shows is based on our own imaginings, biography, culture and history. Therefore, we look at and process an image before words escape, by ‘seeing’ and imagining. How my participants and I ‘collaborate’ in doing visual methods and then how we make meaning of the photographs in storying their feelings, is insightful. As it is, I wanted to enable my participants to make and create their own stories via their photographs and narratives, whilst connecting to them, along with my own interpretation and subjectivities.