How it works

What is PhotoLanguage?

Photographic images to use for conversation in groups and as therapeutic cards

A lot has been said about the special characteristics of pictures as a means of communication. The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is but one example conveying the compactness and complexity contained in pictures.

The Photo-Language technique helps to explore emotions and interpretations in the context of personal and social relationships and circumstances. Photo-Language is a technique that uses photo cards as the medium to stimulate communication. The use of these images helps elicit both cognitive and emotional interpretations to personal and social relationships. Exploring oneself through pictures enables people to understand themselves and communicate this understanding better. It increases intimacy and understanding. Used correctly, this technique can help clients process and reflect on their current situation.

The technique grew out of the work of Pierre Babin and Will, and Claire Belisle in France in the 1960’s at the Centre Recherche et Communication/Audio Visuel Expression de lajoi (CREC-AVEX) in Lyons, France.

The Photo-Language technique uses various sets of photographic images portraying people of diverse age, gender, circumstances, moods and backgrounds. These images can be categorised as follows:

  • People engaged in day to day activities such as work; music; sports; travelling etc.
  • Relationships such as love; friendships; family; animosity and loneliness.
  • Different mental and emotional states
  • Social issues such as drugs and alcohol, crime, homelessness, poverty, war, discrimination and diversity issues
  • Landscape and images from nature.

The photo cards are designed to be used either as a conversational or therapeutic tool and so is suitable for counsellors, social workers, key-workers and support workers; for those working with individuals or in groups or with families.

The images can be used as part of other approaches such as Motivational Interviewing; Solution Focused Therapy; Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as well as long term therapeutic work. They have also successfully been used in the training of professionals in client support and, as part of groupwork training and for diversity awareness training.