Project Yields Photos as Proof of Lifestyle Choices

November 28, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Dr. Toshua Kennedy

Work is underway at the STUDIO – the University of South Carolina Upstate’s student-run graphic-design agency – on a display comprising photographs that portray healthy lifestyle choices, from diet to exercise.

The images are the tangible result of work done in association with LiveWell Greenville by a trio of researchers from the University of South Carolina Upstate. The content in the display, “Photos that HEAL (Healthy Eating and Active Living),” is a photographic representation of the results of research conducted by Dr. Lynette Gibson, a nursing professor and director of research in nursing; Dr. Toshua Kennedy, an assistant professor in the Mary Black School of Nursing; and research assistant Tatiana Green ’17, a nursing graduate.

Dr. Lynette Gibson


The trio worked with four churches in the Greenville area that are participating in the LiveWell Greenville project. Their goal was to have participants create a photographic record of healthy lifestyle choices. Ten female members from the four churches participated and brought their resulting photographs to a focus group.

“We met in focus groups a total of four times,” Kennedy said. “In the groups, they talked and discussed the photographs; it was like sharing advice with one another about what they did in their own journeys of healthy eating and active living.”

The research project began in December 2016 and ran through February 2017, Gibson said.

“We wanted the participants to have the opportunity to let their photographs speak for them,” Kennedy explained. “We gave them assignments each time we met, and that first assignment was to take photographs that represented healthy eating to them. The next assignment was to take photographs of what represented active living to them.”

Participants were also responsible for captioning the photographs and helping to select images for the final display.

“After they took the pictures of healthy eating they brought the pictures back and we met and that’s when they talked in a focus group,” Gibson said. “They captioned the pictures, and after they took the physical activity photos, we met and discussed physical activities and what that meant to them and they captioned those, and then we met a fourth time to pull it all together, and for them to decide which pictures to include.”

Two of the women even brought before-and-after photographs; one of the two had lost 40 pounds, according to Gibson.

At the conclusion of the research, the trio used the photographs and discussions to identify common themes.

“The three of us looked at the themes and drew out a diagram and shared it with the women,” Gibson said. “We thought the main theme was ‘practical living,’ and they agreed.”

That meant a lifestyle that was not only healthy, but accessible.

“When they talked, they talked about not having to do a lot of cooking. They wanted food to be readily available; for it to look pretty. They didn’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen,” Gibson said. “For active living, they wanted the gym or wherever they did their activities to be close by, convenient and [include] easy exercises that were also beneficial and fun.”

Students are currently working to construct the final display, which will feature about two dozen photos mounted on banners. In addition, students at the STUDIO also created a logo for the project that will be included in the display, Gibson said.