Video diaries

Authored by: Charlotte Bates

The Routledge International Handbook of Ethnographic Film and Video

Print publication date:  April  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367185824
eBook ISBN: 9780429196997
Adobe ISBN:


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I first encountered the video diary at a workshop in 2006. That day, Jennifer Patashnick gave a presentation on Video Intervention/Prevention Assessment (VIA): a project based at the Center on Media and Child Health, Children’s Hospital Boston. The VIA project was unique. It gave video cameras to young people with chronic medical conditions and asked them to share the stories of their lives in the form of video diaries. Each VIA participant was loaned a lightweight handheld video camcorder and asked to “teach your doctor about your life and your condition.” The atmosphere in the small, dark seminar room was palpable. Both raw and moving, the video footage demanded to be witnessed but was uncomfortable to watch. Some in the audience averted their eyes as drops of bright red blood fell from a young man’s mouth and pooled into the palm of his hand, which he held out to the camera. 25-year-old Jay had cystic fibrosis, and bloody coughing episodes like this one were part of his daily life. His testimony remained with me long after his video diary had ended.

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