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Keywords:

  • Mexico;
  • auto-photography;
  • place meaning;
  • urban informal settlements;
  • visual methods

Suggestions of a ‘visual turn’ in human geography imply that visual methods are becoming increasingly prevalent in geographical research. However, auto-photography remains relatively unexplored as a research method, empirically and theoretically. In this paper, I reflect on my use of this method in urban informal neighbourhoods in Mexico to explore some of the opportunities and challenges it gives rise to. During research into the spatial and social construction of place in colonias populares in Mexico, I used auto-photography as a way of accessing residents’ perspectives of place meaning. As part of a mixed methods framework within a broadly phenomenological approach to place, auto-photography offers rich potential to explore participants’ perceptual observations that may be harder to access through more conventional techniques such as interviews. It is particularly suitable for use with marginalised groups, given its capacity to emphasise how the less powerful see their place in the world. However, despite some work on analysing visual material as part of geographic research, the relatively novel nature of this technique means guidance is still evolving on ethical and analytical issues such as anonymity and representation.