Lorena Munoz examines the way in which visual methodologies, such as photo-documentation and photo-elicitation, are used to analyze and interpret the cultural landscapes in which Latino street vendors exercise their daily informal economic practices in Los Angeles. Photo-elicitation is a method that serves as a way of flexing power relations between the researcher who is photo-documenting the landscape and the subject that is being photo-documented. In analyzing the documented landscape, the vendors were shown the photographs and asked to describe emotive feelings attached to the landscape and what their perceptions and descriptions (such as space and place) are of the photo-documented site.
Photo-documentation is one mode of visual representation which functionality is to understand complex relational processes that are displayed in the same place at the same time and compare to different time intervals as well. Through these particular visual methodologies, I highlight how Latino immigrant vendor's 'place' and 'sense of place', street corners, yards, and parking lots are transformed into informal commercial profit-making sites. This reconfiguration of urban space not only shapes immigrants' and immigrant vendors' experience of everyday life, but also the urban landscapes around them. Originally posted 4/15/08.