Youth empowerment and the digital representation of self: Lessons from the PhotoCLUB project


  • Alisha Ali New York University
  • Emily Sharp New York University
  • Shira Meged New York University


photovoice, education, empowerment


Recent scholarship in the arts and in education has emphasized the importance of introducing young people to artistic expression as a means of developing a sense of personal and collective agency. Such expression can be particularly important when working with disadvantaged and marginalized populations. In this paper, we describe the PhotoCLUB project which we are conducting in various low-income settings in New York City. This project was designed as a youth empowerment program with the following aims in mind: (1) to provide a means of engagement and creative expression for children and youth; and (2) to encourage children and youth to collectively explore their educational and life goals by using digital photography to capture images of their “ideal possible selves.” Our model is grounded in a theoretical framework that uses the notion of the digital representation of self through a shared, collaborative process. In our analysis, we discuss the specific application of this framework in the context of empowerment-based learning. We also discuss the value and the advantages of using digital photography in educational settings.

Author Biographies

Alisha Ali, New York University

Associate Professor, Department of Applied Psychology, New York University

Emily Sharp, New York University

Graduate, New York University

Shira Meged, New York University

Graduate, New York University


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