Photographs with Reflections

During the workshop held after the walks had been completed, through conversation the walking pairs edited down their images to a selection of 10, and then a final two. Below are the final selections of pairs of images and their descriptions.

To see the research analysis of these photographs please scroll to the bottom of this page.


Anais Leger and Julie Whittaker – (with Julie’s husband Andrew Whittaker and PAs)

IMG_0068 - no reg plateMy husband and I had to move over on a very uneven gravel track close to the river because of a very disgruntled park warden in his 4×4.  He was very impatient and the rest of the group were trying to get hold of Billie (a 7 month old assistant dog) to safety as he just kept driving towards the party which made us all panic.  The fact that my husband is in an electric wheelchair and myself on a mobility scooter, there was no allowance for us.”  Julie – co-researcher

IMG_0011This is more positive … we all sort of stuck close together and Billie, all the way through the walk, she was constantly around us checking that everybody was in the party. This picture shows all the party setting off together at the beginning of the first walk.  We talked about how busy Blaise Castle was on the day – loads of mums with children playing in the park and people having picnics.  We talked about the history of Blaise as my husband is a born and bred Bristolian so we had great insight.  Anais talked about how Billie encounters the environment and how she answers to all her commands, even though she had met Anais for the first time.”  Julie – co-researcher

Liz Crow and Rosalind J Turner

IMG_0006“I chose this image because it represents a stage in the process that took place before we set out on our route.  The intention was that we each select a route but I couldn’t think of any that I hadn’t done (ie tried and tested for access) multiple times and the interest for me in the project was to discover new routes, new places.  We agreed to select locations rather than routes and to explore rather than plan.  This was a way both to respond to the obstacles and challenges, but also to expand possibilities beyond the specific outing.  Through this process both locations have become places to revisit in order to push this new learning further.  I don’t particularly want to follow the same routes but to edge beyond them once again. For me the result is that I have a place to explore further that I thought was impassable, and it isn’t, so it was just this amazing opening up for me.”  Liz – co-researcher

IMG_0095-003Make or break moment on the sea wall.  Our decision was between retracing a long route or going off the beaten track on a shorter, but far more interesting and exciting route home.  A short, steep hill led to the sea wall – a lot of effort for both partners to get up it and the sea wall invisible from its base.  Rosalind hiked up the hill to make a visual description of terrain, gradient etc, trying to incorporate her new knowledge of trike capabilities and our combined resources (strength, stubbornness, etc).  The decision depended on information-sharing, consultation, negotiation, willingness to share risk and effort and opened up the highlight of the route that was passable only through this combined work.  In the end it was still touch and go but we decided just to kind of go for it.  So we scrambled our way up there and wove our way along the edge and it was quite dodgy but it was do-able as well and actually it was really exciting because that was the moment that the landscape really opened up … and without that sort of collaborative way of working we wouldn’t have been able to make a judgement about whether it was possible.  If it had been just me, I couldn’t have got up the hill so it was quite a significant day for me really.”   Liz – co-researcher

Tom Henfrey and Dale Durrant

“Dale uses his greater auditory sensitivity to differences in surface to negotiate abrupt transitions between walking surfaces that, as a fully sighted person, I don’t usually stop to consider.  Here, the subtle change in gait needed for the different surfaces occurs automatically when you see the contrast in advance, but can be a challenge for the visually impaired. What I found really interesting is an insight I got into the way Dale overcomes a general challenge … and how he actually picks up on how the ambient noise changes as you move from one surface to another and that’s one of the ways that he enhances his ability to navigate.”  Tom – co-researcher

“I was struck during the walk how much more observant than me Dale seemed to be.  One example was near the start of our walk on College Green, when Dale pointed out the unicorns on top of the council building, which I had never noticed before (despite having been inside).  I concluded that Dale’s need to make more effort in using his sight contrasted with my relative complacency – it’s not how good it is, it’s how well you use it. We found a complementarity between our seeing styles … Dale often spotted things and then I could use my eyes and greater visual acuity to look at details of them and we’d identify and find all sorts of things together which we wouldn’t have spotted either of us alone.”  Tom – co-researcher

Raheela Raza-Syed and Paul Noone (with Raheela’s PA John)

IMG_0489“We reached a point on our walk where we stopped on the path and looked across a field to a lovely garden.  Paul wondered what was in the garden … there were lots of people and nice flowers.  Paul was looking for a route to get there.  Someone said ‘let’s just go across the field.’  There was trepidation but we were determined to carry on regardless. I think that sometimes, particularly if you are disabled, you have to break the rules sometimes, so we were a bit naughty, but we didn’t have a choice.” Raheela – co-researcher

IMG_0484[Researcher’s note – At some point on the walk Paul and John swapped places; Paul pushing the chair and John taking the camera.  Suddenly Raheela realized it was John in front taking the photos and turned her head back to check who was pushing the chair.

“All three of us working as a team … there is no photo but we had a wonderful moment of union when we experienced silence together. Being the disabled person I found myself being pushed along and I had to turn right round and just check it was you … (laughs) … and I wasn’t being kidnapped … actually that’s an example of us working as a team.  One final point for which there isn’t a photo, we just had a moment together in that we closed our eyes and had a listen to the city … we called it a soundscape but it was really interesting how bloody noisy the city is, and I feel lost without it.  But, yes, it was part of our experience together.” Raheela – co-researcher

Tony Benson and Sue Liebow

“Gap for walking through from car park but no dropped kerb.  We had to take a long detour. We had to go all the way back to the car park and all the way up the middle of the road but I was going on my walk … we actually ended up with cars behind us, looking at us thinking why are you in our way, in such a stupid place … no dropped kerb, we were very frustrated.” Sue – co-researcher

“Picture of me taking photos of something inaccessible to a wheelchair.  We wanted to have a picture of it. We’d spotted some woodland plants that we both thought of taking a photograph of … that’s me walking up and actually taking a photograph as it’s inaccessible for Sue in her wheelchair, you can see the ground below is just rough grass and vegetation.” Tony – co-researcher

Sharon Millard and Soledad Riestra

6 -  Sharon Millard - Soledad Riestra
[Researcher's note - no text reflections supplied with this pair of images.]

Karen Morgan and Courtney Planter (with Courtney’s PA, Anthony)

IMG_3703“Almost halfway through the walk.  We had survived the rail and tram tracks and uneven paving along the river – only to realize that the path ahead was even more uneven.  Cracked paving slabs, cobbles and obstructions such as bollards, cars and anchors.  And it was cold. A moment of realizing actually the walk wasn’t going to get any easier once we moved away from the tram tracks.” Courtney – co-researcher

IMG_0571“This image shows a recurring hazard on our walk that we all had to remain aware of and try to avoid.  We had to work together to find ways around/over it and remain alert in case Courtney’s chair toppled over. This really stood out as epitomizing us walking together and that moment when we all realized that it wasn’t going to be a nice easy walk.” Karen – co-researcher

Terry Searle and Glenise Morgan

P1040886“The mobility scooter refused to go.  Why would it not shift?  It had become entangled in long grass, leaves and undergrowth had accumulated around the rear wheels.  The three of us examined the wheels and could see the problem.  With team effort we freed the wheels of entanglement and I was mobile again.  It was cause for concern as I was afraid that the motor had broken down.  We were in the middle of our walk.  This would have been disaster if we hadn’t been able to fix it. I’d deviated from the path.  I stopped and when I tried to start the mobility scooter it wouldn’t move … to be stuck in the middle of a wood with a mobility scooter … (laughs) … it was a relief to get it going again.” Terry – co-researcher

We hadn’t worked out how to do a video on the camera supplied – or rather we’d forgotten!  Sam, who we met en route because her dog came up with a stick, knew Gleniuse.  We got chatting and she knew about the project [Researcher's note - by coincidence Sam works at UWE] and knew the camera model!  She was able to show us how to use it.  Team work again!  A case of: ‘Can you help me?’ – ‘No, but I know a (wo)man who can!’ So as luck would have it, she knew how to do it so she showed us and we had a better understanding after meeting her and her lovely dog.” Terry – co-researcher

Neil, Professor Jane Speedy and Hayley Hellings

IMG_6716“We had been walking for some time and Hayley was in a lot of pain and found it difficult to walk so we had to look around to find something for her to sit on that was high enough and safe to sit on.  The only thing that was available was the edge of an old water butt which Hayley chose to sit on for a rest and allow the support dog Ella to have a drink.  There were no sitting areas around the allotments, so this was Hayley’s only choice. It sparked up a conversation about things around that little bit of land … we noticed nesting boxes and things like that.” Jane – co-researcher

“The picture doesn’t have much resemblance to what I’m going to speak about but this is the entrance to the exhibition we were going into but we had to get a lift up to the entrance … and we got into the lift and Jane’s partner shut the door outside the lift.  As Jane’s partner used the stairs, we realized that the lift didn’t work, and we were all standing there thinking ‘well, why aren’t we moving?’ and Hayley said that we needed to shut the other door so if it wasn’t for Hayley and Jane’s partner we would probably still be stuck in the lift now!” Neil – co-researcher


Researcher’s note of the analysis of these images;

To gain an overview of the eighteen images chosen by the co-researchers from the 100s of photographs they took on their walks, and the rationales they gave for their final selections, the academic research team conducted an analysis of these selections to see what themes were emerging.  This was approached primarily from a qualitative methodological position, drawing on two conceptual frameworks for the analysis.  

First was Berger’s (1) notion that photographs in themselves have no meaning, and the only facts they can tell us is the descriptive details captured in the image itself, (e.g. the colour of things, the shape of things, the types of clothes a person is wearing, etc).  Besides this, photographs in themselves cannot tell us anything definite about the emotional dynamics of the scenario, how people were feeling, or what the narrative of the scenario was.  Any such ideas we read in an image is what we as spectators bring to the image and is implied.  It is a conceptual bridging that spectators are doing by reading their own personal experiences, contextual knowledge and tacit knowledge to deconstruct the (possible) meaning of the photographic image.  Therefore in the process of our initial analysis, any themes we attach to these images must be drawn only from the either the factual information in the image itself, the rationales given for these choices, and triangulated using audio recordings from the walks.  As tempting as it may be, drawing on academic prior knowledge and theory of particularly disability and identity discourse to interpret these images was resisted at this first level analysis of the emerging themes.    

The second methodological concept drawn upon was Lyn Yates’ (2) notion of how photographic images emerging from participatory projects (in Yates’ case looking at working with young people) can be identified in two categories depending on the motivation of when the photograph was taken.  ‘Windows to the world’ images are descriptive imagery ‘where the visual purpose is primarily to find out or show more about things/events in the world that are the experiences of the participants’, (for example showing the obstruction of a dropped kerb on a pavement).  Yates’ second category is called ‘windows to identity’, where ‘the central intention [of the project or photographer’s motivation] is to find out more about the subjectivity of the person taking the photographs (‘who they are’, ‘what matters to them’).  The Walking Interconnections project spans both categories of ‘windows to the world’ and ‘windows to identity’, and during the walks the co-researchers had free licence to take whatever photographs they were inspired to make.  Although at the first analysis stage we resisted labelling the photographs too strongly to one or other (or both) categories, we were mindful of these notions when identifying the emerging themes in identifying the descriptive and reflexive rationales given in the photo-elicitation conversations, and other data which triangulated the moments the photographs were taken, such as the audio recordings.

The categories of locations in which walks were carried out with the numerical quantities of walks and selected photographs are:

  • - Built-up urban areas and building interiors (e.g. residential area, and art gallery) – (3 walks / 3 selected photos )
  • - Urban water areas (e.g.  river path) (5 walks / 2 photos selected)
  • - National heritage parks (5 walks / 8 photos selected)
  • - Coastal areas (1 walk / 1 photo selected)
  • - Pockets in urban spaces (e.g. allotments) (5 walks / 3 photos selected)

    On first reflection of the numerical data it could be suggested that the overwhelming majority of selected images in the National heritage parks category, could be seen as a leaning towards the picturesque, though when the images themselves are looked at and the rationales read, you see that far from being concerned with aesthetics, those landscapes offered deeper insights in themes related to both their experiences of those spaces and relations to their identity.  More on this issue will be discussed in subsequent research papers. 

The themes emerged from this analysis is shown in the following list, along with an accompanying number of how many images were interpreted to that theme.  Some images related to more than one theme, and have been coded to multiple themes and counted accordingly.  Although, as already noted, this analysis was primarily a qualitative rather than quantitative exercise, the frequency of themes is still of interest to determine emphasis and conceptual patterns.  However the list has not been arranged in numerical order, as the quantitative analysis is not the primary concern.  The list is arranged in order of walking groups and the chronology of the themes that emerged, (i.e. The first photograph from Walking Pair 1 was themed to both ‘vulnerability’, and ‘dynamic relations to the landscape’, so they are the first themes in the list.)

-       Vulnerability (3)
-       Dynamic Relations to landscape (4)
-       Solidarity (5)
-       Interdependence (5)
-       Work (4)
-       Embodied Learning (3)
-       Agency (1)
-       Risk (1)
-       Togetherness / Levelling (1)
-       Persistence / Stubbornness (4)
-       Commitment (2)
-       Kindness of strangers (1)
-       Resourcefulness (1)
-       Attentiveness (1) 

To see the full breakdown of images/themes analysis please click here for the pdf [go straight to page 3 of document]

Photography analysis overviewFurther interpretive work is now being carried out on this analysis in conjunction with the rest of the project’s findings, which will be reported on in due course.

Dr Shawn Sobers – 23 April 2014


1 – Berger, J. (1977) The Ambiguity of the Photograph, in K.Askew and R.R. Wilk (Eds.) The Anthropology of Media: A Reader, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, p.p. 47-55

2 – Yates, L. (2010) The story they want to tell, and the visual story as evidence: young people, research authority and research purposes in the education and health domains, Visual Studies, 25:3, 280-291