Participant video

Asking participants to video things for themselves means that you can gain a unique perspective on your activities or site. You should get an idea of what participants see as significant or noteworthy.

Research method Preparation time Time to gather data Time to analyse data Not suitable for ... Does data indicate wellbeing? Who, what, where people experience wellbeing? Is it an activity in itself?
Participant video None – unless you set tasks/parameters 10 – 30 mins Can be long if there is a lot of recorded video to watch and analyse People who haven’t given consent to photography/video. People who might find it difficult to use a video camera It can do – but depends on what has been filmed It can do – but depends on what has been filmed Can be
 Suitable for:

  • groups that know each other well and where people are supportive of each other
  • people who are self-conscious when in front of a camera
  • people who can’t read or write
  • people who don’t like to talk in front of a group
  • people who can’t communicate verbally.

What information is collected?

  • direct quotes from participants if they talk while filming
  • participants can choose what they record/what is significant
  • as participants set agenda this can be useful data in itself (e.g. analysing what they choose to film).

How is information collected?

  • on video (or possibly audio) recorders
  • you could set this as an activity in itself or some people may use the video whilst others are involved in another activity.

Watch out for:

  • participants may film what they think leaders think is important/talk about
  • people may follow conventions that they have seen on TV/film and try to emulate this in their films
  • be careful of placing too much on the face-value of what has been recorded e.g. seeing significance in everything. You could write notes that say whether the person videoing seemed to be very focused or just waving the camera around
  • you may need to go through some simple things about videoing e.g. try to hold the camera still, if panning move the camera slowly, saying who is speaking to whom (if interviewing). This will make things much easier at the analysis stage.


Materials/equipment needed: video recorder (you can buy small/simple video recorders or use the video setting on a phone/tablet/compact stills camera).

Method: either set this up as an activity in itself and give as loose a brief as possible (so as not to steer people into concentrating on filming particular things) or have a couple of video recorders for people to pick up and use when they feel like it.

If you decide to brief your group it might be a good idea to write or decide on exactly what you are going to ask them to do so that you avoid steering them in a particular direction. You may also want to consider limiting the amount of time they are using the video as it can take a long time to watch through and analyse later on.

Adaptations: you might prefer to ask people to record things in audio rather than video. You may feel that this doesn’t remove them so much from the woodland experience but you may need to ask them to explain what they are recording and why, or it could be difficult to decipher when you get to the analysis stage.

Pros and cons: participants are very actively involved in research process and choosing what to focus on. You may feel that videoing has an impact on how immersive a woodland experience is. Looking through a screen may remove people from a direct relationship with their surroundings. On the plus side videos may mean that moments on the sidelines (e.g. not the main activity) are recorded, giving a different perspective and focus on what is going on. It can be less demanding of a participant who feels shy or unsure about an activity. Your participant videos may not immediately seem to capture anything useful/interesting, remember to watch several times as there maybe something happening in the background or it may show how participants interact with each other.