Qualitative Health Research Network


Ellie Whitfield

Using Visual Ethnography to Explore the Lives and Experiences of People with Memory Concerns

Seminar details

Ellie Whitfield gave our  QHRN seminar on the 9th December 2022

Title: Visual Ethnography Exploring the Experiences of People with Memory Concerns

Date: Friday 9th December 2022

Time: 14:00-15:00 (UK time)


In this seminar I will discuss the use of participant generated photographs as part of a visual ethnography, in order to explore the lives and experiences of a group of people who are taking part in a randomised controlled trial that looks at the effects of behavioural changes on memory loss. The participants are part of the APPLE-Tree dementia prevention study and have Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD) or Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). They were asked to take photographs that said something about, or would help them to explain, their lived experiences of having concerns about their memory, being part of the APPLE-Tree programme, and the things in their lives that are important to them. These photographs were initially discussed in individual photo-elicitation interviews, during which participants were also invited to collaborate with a professional photographer to create an exhibition of their work. This process prompted further reflections, in zoom sessions, small group workshops, and interviews, and in accounts that were written to accompany their work in the exhibition.


Ellie Whitfield obtained a doctorate in Social Science at Cardiff University, with research looking at the relationship between reflexivity and habitus, social class, generation, and identity, in the life stories of people in retirement who were members of University of the Third Age groups and social clubs. She began work as a Research Fellow on the APPLE-Tree study in the Division of Psychiatry in UCL in January of this year. She is currently leading on the visual ethnography study and the process evaluation of the APPLE-Tree study.