Summer time brings with it some much needed time at work. It’s time to recalibrate. We decide to take on the daunting task of sorting through all the digital photos sitting in our laptops eating up mountains of space. Every project into consumer’s lives finds us capturing lives through our camera lens. During the life of a project the photos play an important role, either as a record for us the researchers or as a medium for story telling in our reports and workshops. After each project however, the photos lie forgotten in the project folder, the stories and faces fading away.
As we set out on the cleaning up process we are encountered with thousands of photos dating back to several years. Instead of moving them out into some sort of filing system we begin to click through some of them out of nostalgia, recalling our experiences, the people we met, the places we had been.
Although our memories are still fresh, time has created some distance from the granularity of consumer life. As we flip through the pictures we begin to notice details and patterns we had not noticed before. Suddenly connections between consumers across different projects became alive. To some extent these had existed in our conscious as cumulative learning of a consumer/market but the pictures are able to make it more tangible and give a voice to the lived experience of the research team.
We had stumbled into a trove of visual material which had been forgotten in project folders and become a graveyard of insights. Our stumbling into this graveyard made us think about how we miss the opportunity to make our cumulative learning over time into something more tangible and more easily shareable.
So we began to put together the pictures across several projects in Vietnam and before we knew it we had an interesting story of the Vietnam market and its evolution.
Archived photos are a great tool that can be used to create an artefact. As an artefact they can be (re)used in many different ways a) as a way to communicate current understanding and assumptions b) as a way to probe client understanding of a market or deepen understanding as a team c) create an experiential learning to sensitize clients to unfamiliar contexts even at the beginning of projects.
So as the summer holidays came to an end, it was time pull out the photos buried in some inaccessible sub folder and give them a new birth.