PhotoVoice lets Marshfield Teens Express Themselves

MARSHFIELD — Express Yourself Community Connections hosted PhotoVoice’s weekly meetings. We thought that we might get a better turnout if we took it out of the high school and changed the location (and it worked). Dianne Gilligan is the founder of Express Yourself Community Connections (EYCC) and the Director of Quality Enhancement for Road to Responsibility, Inc. EYCC offers Self-Discovery Collage workshops to assist people in exploring and discovering their passion. They are located 1939 Ocean St., Marshfield.

Photographer Patti Napolitano of Patti Anne Photography volunteered to teach the students the basics of photography and act as a mentor in the photo essay project. This project represents the intersection of Patti’s passions: Kids, photography and substance use & teen issues prevention and awareness. See more of Patti’s work at

Marshfield High School’s Adjustment Counselor Rebecca O’Dowd brings a background in addiction and school-based counseling to PhotoVoice. Her guidance and support helped make the project safe and meaningful for students.

The North River Arts Society hosted the PhotoVoice exhibit May 5 – May 12, 2018. Visit

A little about The PhotoVoice project – PhotoVoice put cameras in the hands of high school students; Katie Fallon, Jessica Martin, Kaitlyn Levine, Olivia Hutchinson and Jack O’Donoghue and asked them to answer questions regarding issues they see that teens in the community are facing today through the eye of a lens. These teens worked with professional photographer Patti Napolitano of Patti Anne Photography, Marshfield High School Adjustment Counselor Rebecca O’Dowd and Express Yourself Community Connections’ Dianne Gilligan.

This is a 5-week commitment which met on Thursday nights from 6:30-8pm where we would have dinner together, socialize a little, upload their images, discuss them in a focus group led by Patti, Rebecca and Dianne and then come up with taglines for the images. It was also an opportunity to teach them a new skill by taking cellphones out of their hands and giving them cameras. Because this was the 2nd pilot program the teens were hand-picked. We chose teens from all different backgrounds; (meaning most didn’t know each other). At the end of the five weeks, all the images the group decided on would be edited with the tagline and printed for the art show at North River Arts Society. The kids also got their own photo shoot to express themselves with Patti Anne Photography where their favorite image was chosen, printed and became the welcoming image when you walk through the door at NRAS. These kids made a huge commitment to this project and deserved to be recognized.

Junior Journalist’s view on PhotoVoice
Courtesy of Jessica Martin (Sophomore at MHS)

Going into this project with little to no photography experience, not knowing what it was really about or knowing what Marshfield’s PhotoVoice project was going to be like or who else was going to be involved was a little intimidating, but I showed up weekly and in the end, everyone was so glad to be a part of PhotoVoice.

PhotoVoice is a teen project that allows high school students to express issues being faced in the community around them simply using the lens of a camera. Each week Patti and Rebecca, the facilitators of the PhotoVoice project, presented the teens with a question regarding the issues that they faced in their day to day life. Some questions from this session included something as simple as “What would you do?” or Who or what is your support system, what do you see as issues that teens face today? We were then able to interpret the question in our own way during the week by looking at the world in a different way. After we were given the question, we would spend the week with our camera photographing what we saw as the answer to the question. The next meeting, we looked at every picture and we all made comments and discussed what each person thought it meant to them. This project was definitely the most eye opening, when we were able to see how one simple picture can mean so many different things to each person. In the end, the final pictures were chosen were given “taglines” based on the groups feedback and focused discussions of the images.

In order to show the community and spread awareness the images were put on display at the North River Arts Society for an opening reception where they were then visible for the next 10 days. We put a “behind the scenes” slideshow together so guests could see us all in action as well. Speaking for myself and I’m sure I can speak for the entire group, as a teen, being able to see the results of our commitment, hard work and open-mindedness printed and hanging in an art studio and seeing so many people show up, walk around, ask us questions and talk about them was truly a great feeling. At the reception, I watched the guests and they were truly astonished by what came out of this amazing project. Visitors loved looking at the images and seeing a teens interpretation on issues in the world and our very own community. They were taking pictures of the images and seemed truly “wowed.”
The PhotoVoice project will be an experience I personally will remember forever, and anyone interested should definitely try it out! Participating in this project was something I have no regrets about and will remember for the rest of my life!

All photos are courtesy of PhotoVoice

The PhotoVoice project is a collaboration between Marshfield FACTS, (Marshfield’s community coalition for substance use prevention), Kiwanis Marshfield, Patti Anne Photography, Express Yourself Community Connections and the North River Arts Society. Kiwanis Marshfield provided funding for PhotoVoice and was a huge supporter of the project.

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