Tips on how to present and document your research project
Photographs are one of the most powerful ways to tell a story. Researchers as storytellers can create strong empathy for the users by using evocative photographs of the research activities in progress. While fieldwork photographs of the subjects/ users/ respondents and their environments come in handy, there is another set of photographs must be carefully taken and sometimes staged to tell the story of the research activity as a story in itself. The different kinds of pictures of The ‘Research in Action’ that I find useful are:
The researcher and the subject in one frame
This helps the stakeholders get a real sense of where the research team was, where they sat, what they did. These photos paint the picture of the fieldwork as it happens giving them a sense of context with a reference. This is also important because it captures a live conversation between two people. The viewer can see the research subjects’ expressions, their body language and witness the moment of research inquiry through a still photograph.
One thing to keep in mind for this picture is to declutter it. It is good to have the researcher with their notebook, having an animated conversation but not so good to be able to see the 3 bags they were carrying, the water bottle beside them, the camera next to their lap etc.
Consider this as carefully staging a live conversation between two people or curating reality as it happens.
The closeup of the research tools in use
I find these the most exciting to include in the storytelling. Pictures of research tools in use bring the thinking behind them alive. These frames help the viewer to relate to the research design and showcase the success of the tool design in use. Close up shots of something the users wrote or drew while using a research tool, are particularly exciting because they give a glimpse of research data being generated.
Such pictures capture the users’ thoughts in their language and words and this raw data helps tell the story more powerfully. The presenter can incorporate these pictures to narrate an interesting or a surprising user behavior by including such pictures in their insight presentations.
The researcher in action
Pictures of pictures being taken can be very instrumental in communicating the role of a researcher, which goes beyond holding conversations and asking questions. Such pictures are the ‘behind the scenes’, what was the crew doing on set, what were their tasks and how did they go about doing those.
I particularly like such shots to be taken by the research team members, of each other. The documenter in the team takes on the role of also documenting their fellow researchers. They also make for great memories and help bring the team together.
These are some of the research in action pictures I take when on the field, with the storytelling in mind. What kind of research in action pictures do you include in your storytelling? Please let me know in the comments. Thanks.