New Scots Photography – Towards Good Practice in Document Refugee Integration Projects

Image for New Scots Photography – Towards Good Practice in Document Refugee Integration Projects
Lead Organisation:
Scottish Refugee Council
Award Amount:

A short series of photography workshops for New Scots, working towards creating a best practice guide for community groups when photographing New Scots

New Scots reached
Key Information
  • To create a best practice guide for photographing New Scots communities and events
  • To learn, share and practice photography skills
  • To foster new connections and combat isolation

Key Information

Project partner

Scottish Refugee Council, Open Aye cic

Geographical reach



01/11/2021 – 01/05/2022

Target Groups
Refugees and asylum seekers
Project Type
Spreading best practice and learning new skills


As lockdown eased, we were faced with a deficit of photographs from 2020-2021 as many projects had been online or dealing with crisis response. These participatory workshops sought to build up the skills of community members to take photos of their projects, and to create a best practice guide to send out to other community groups.

Open Aye cic offered to run these workshops pro bono as part of their social responsibility, so the costs of them facilitating the workshops were removed. Scottish Refugee Council covered the costs of venues and food, as well as travel costs for participants.

Involvement of New Scots in project

At each session, we held activities and discussions around the following topics and invited the group to share their ideas on best practice. The workshops focused on:

  • What makes a great photo?
  • Inspirational photo essays & Storytelling with images
  • Planning & prepping for a photoshoot
  • On the job: what to remember & what set of images may work well
  • Editing, selecting, filing & sharing
  • Ethical considerations: who should take the picture and what should they show?
  • GDPR & legal obligations
  • Forming a story & getting it ready to view publicly

We also adapted the workshops to the needs of the participants. For example, one of the participants is setting up her own business currently and wanted some advice on product photography. So we adapted one of the workshops to include a session on photographing objects – asking participants to bring meaningful objects to the workshop and to use practical product photography techniques to tell their story.

Participants also requested that we hold the sessions in different locations each time we met, so that they could explore more of their new city. We adapted so that we could offer this.


  • A best-practice guide for organisations working with refugees
  • Networking opportunities for participants and ongoing working relationships
  • Opportunities for participants, many of whom had arrived in Scotland during lockdown, to explore their new home town
  • Strengthening our working relationship with Open Aye cic

Challenges encountered

  • The initial idea was to actively recruit participants from community groups funded under the New Scots Refugee Integration Delivery Project, but this proved problematic due to funded projects still seeking to secure project participants.
  • Omicron prevented us from carrying out our final workshop in December 2021. This prevented us from getting consent forms from participants to share the images they had taken.
  • When we reconvened in May 2022, only 3 participants were able to attend.
  • There were some language barriers.

Open Aye’s busy calendar – and the fact they were doing the work pro bono – meant that the start of drafting best practice guide was delayed until October 2022.


  • We advertised via New Scots Connect and other networks including our volunteer groups, and 7 enthusiastic participants from refugee/asylum seeking backgrounds signed up, some of whom had photography experience and others who were just keen to learn something new or meet new people
  • We have a WhatsApp group for the group, but requests for consent forms, along with some other requests, were not answered and we chose not to push the group for these. Lockdown was a tricky time and people had a lot to deal with. The purpose of the workshops was to equip people to take photos, not to build a bank of photos from the workshops.
  • At our final workshop. We workshopped our ideas for the best practice guide and then visited a camera shop and a photography exhibition.

The best practice guide is a helpful resource for Scottish Refugee Council and organisation seeking to document how best to document their work through photography. Hopefully it will also form the basis of a longer guide by Open Aye in future.


  • Adapting to an ever-changing health crisis, working in partnership and working with people in precarious situations, even with the best planning and resources, lends itself to delays. It is best to just go with the flow and be patient, and create a fun, meaningful experience for participants even if it differs somewhat from the initial idea.
  • The unexpected outcome of participants saying that the workshops were a way to explore new parts of their new city


  • “Thank you so much for doing this for us.”
  • “This was one of my favourite days in Scotland.”
  • “Thanks to everyone for a great and funny time.”
  • “Thank you for the inspiring workshops, we really enjoyed being together and hope to see all again soon.”

Project Partners