The article examines the use of photo-elicitation methods in an ESRC-funded study of young consumers. Participants were asked to take photographs of consumer items that were significant to them. These were subsequently used in recorded interviews as a trigger to elicit the discussion of the relationship between consumer goods and identity. The analysis focuses on how the features of visual representation influence the versions of identity that are presented. We show how participants both accommodate to and exploit aspects of the photographic image in creating their accounts. This is achieved by using the visual image to bolster identity claims and employing the verbal accounts to edit and contextualize the identity implications of the visual image. We suggest that the photo interview offers participants an opportunity to show rather than ‘tell’ aspects of their identity that might have otherwise remained hidden. It may, therefore, be a useful tool for researching contentious or problematic identity positions.
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