On 30th of May, during the two-day Methods Festival (30-31.05.2017) at the University of Jyväskylä I organized the seesion Why Visuals Matter? Using Images as Data.

By organizing this session, I aimed to create a space to discuss the importance of using visuals and visual research methods in contemporary scholarship. Visual research methods are those that incorporate some kind of imagery into the research process. Images can be used as data or as a tool through which data is analyzed or collected, or finally disseminated. Using visual research methods has recently become even fashionable in some way (just to mention be-annual Conference on Visual Methods, or the so-called post-disciplinary journal Visual Methodologies, and a number of recently published handbooks). Thus, the session aimed to get closer to the question Why Visuals Matter?

The session was possible thanks to my three colleagues that presented their approaches to working with images or using visual research methods. I am really greatful for their input and interesting discussion that followed, including really a lot of questions from the audience!

Presenters within the session:

  • Asko Lehmuskallio, Senior University Researcher, Docent, University of Tampere, Chair ECREA TWG Visual Cultures. Title of his presentation: It’s not about the looks, but about the look.
  • Jenni Mäenpää, University of Tampere, postdoc researcher. Title of her presentation: Photographs as research tools in studying photo-journalistic work practices.
  • Mari Pienimäki, University of Tampere, postdoc researcher. Title of her presentation: Informant generated photographs as research data.

I am always very happy when events like this can take place, esepcially when visual studies get its place within broader streem of research. It is also very encouraging seeing such interest in the image-based research among the audience. I think that there is an urgent need to bring together scholars within Finnish academia to discuss their appraoches and experience in visual methodologies.