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Updated: Dec 5, 2022

Photolanguage is a co-building activity, which can also be used as an icebreaker, where participants select a photograph in response to a question such as “What is a community garden for you?” and then describe why they have chosen it.

Goal of the exercise

Expressing visions, desires, needs, fears through images.


Number of participants:

At least 3 persons,

Target group:

Children, young people, and adults.

The method is particularly well-suited for intercultural groups.

Age of participants:

aged 5 or above

Duration of the method

5 to 30 min, depending on the number of participants. Count about 30 seconds per participant.

Materials / Place

Photographs related to the topic to be addressed (garden, nature, food, etc.)

Indoors or outdoors. The location should be equipped with a wall space or a large table so that the photos can be comfortably looked at (best at eye-level).


Choose and print photographs, depending on the number of participants.

Step by step

  1. Gather participants in a circle and explain the method and announce the guiding question (e.g. “Which picture represents a community garden for you?”).

  2. Ask participants to move around and look at the pictures exhibited before selecting one of them.

  3. Participants in turn show the chosen photograph and explain the reasons for their choice.

  4. (Optional) The facilitator summarises the results of the method.

Alternative use

Use an icebreaker during which participants present themselves.


The method has proved particularly useful for participants who are not proficient in the same language or who have difficulties expressing themselves.


The method has been successfully used for starting a project of community gardening. Very useful for letting participants share their representations. Sometimes participants select the same picture but for different reasons. Participants are excited and happy about being given the opportunity to contribute and make suggestions.

Additional notes

To create your own database: search on the internet using different keywords according to your activities: community/allotment/shared garden, urban/pedagogical farm, etc. Also more specific words such as seeds, plants, vegetable, compost, etc. Try to have a diversity of photos that represent all the functions you could find in a garden: social (don’t forget to have a diversity of faces and persons), environmental or ecological, food production (don’t forget photos with vegetables or flowers growing), educational or pedagogical, etc. In order to easily identify the photo put a number on it.

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