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Research Photography




Stakeholder Research

Credit Hours


Explores the use of photographic imagery in design-led, user research and related activities.

Photography plays a critical role throughout the design process and is particularly important during upfront discovery research. From the preliminary framing of a design challenge through to the communication of research findings and design direction, students will learn how to take successful photographs for the end-to-end design process. Documentary photography, how images have been used to invoke social change and how time-based imaging can inform spatio-temporal studies will be covered as well.

Understanding how to analyze images from field research, effectively utilizing them as a key source of data, yields powerful insights that bring observational research to its full potential. After students successfully shoot and analyze photographs, they will learn to leverage images in illustrative narratives. These narratives can be used to describe the current user experience, provide an evocative profile of research participants, create an immersive context for idea generation and illustrate new concepts and future experiences.

Learning Objectives

Objectives focus on the role of photography in several types of research: ethnographic research, user-generated media and immersion studies. Students will learn to both compose and to use imagery to understand and communicate issues surrounding typical design challenges.

Learning Outcomes

After concluding this course, students will have improved their skills and comprehension in several areas:

  • Using photography as a tool in several research methods
  • Analyzing images to inform a deeper understanding of user behaviors, interactions with objects and environments, interpretation of artifacts and cultural media
  • Leveraging images as an illustrative element in communicating ideas and concepts

Enrollment Restrictions

No prerequisites. This course is open to all Institute of Design students.