A Picture is Worth 1000 Words: A photovoice exploration into social connections at home

Multi-unit residents in Vancouver recently participated in a photo-sharing project to illuminate wishes and worries about the sociability of living in their buildings.

The SFU Research team recently completed “A Picture is Worth 1000 Words”, a photovoice project which explores people’s experiences of social connection and isolation. 

Working with HNC’s housing provider partners, the project asked residents to submit at least five photos with descriptions to share their wishes and worries about the sociability of their lives at home. The photos were then discussed at round-table workshops facilitated by SFU researchers to build connections between participants and identify common themes. 

The report identifies six common themes that were expressed across all participants. Those themes include the importance of shared spaces, community initiatives, safety, and housing stability for creating and fostering social connections. 

Importantly, participants explained both the positive and negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on sociability. Finally, they expressed how inter-personal conflict with neighbours creates barriers to social connection.

The report concludes by outlining several recommendations for improving the state of social connection in multi-unit residential buildings. The recommendations include:

  • supporting resident-led initiatives, 
  • providing accessible common spaces, 
  • maintaining clear communication channels with housing providers, 
  • enabling residents to stay in their communities, 
  • and advocating for increased social programming. 

The photovoice report shows the creative and poignant ways that participants chose to share their experiences, ideas, and opinions. It demonstrates the diverse ways in which participants experience social connection or isolation in their homes, buildings, and communities. The research team really appreciates their willingness to share their photos and insights.

Read the full report (PDF).