Glocalisation of the Digital Image: Ethics, Image Action and Innovative Methods


My DFG project “Glocalisation of the Digital Image: Ethics, Image Action and Innovative Methods” (2023-2026) builds on my research project “Behind the Digital Image. Photographs on Community Platforms and Twitter as Repositories for Machine Learning and Journalistic Publications” (2020-2023) from Phase I of the DFG Priority Programme “The Digital Image”. It extends my research of digital photo-sharing towards incorporated practices of ethics and image action in digital photojournalism as well as the development of innovative digital visual methods between theory and practice, especially visual (auto)ethnography. I am pursuing two sub-projects:

a) Ethics and image action – The glocalisation of the digital image: The aim is to investigate ethics and image action of digital photos (global/universal) as well as the experiences of photographers (local/particular). The term glocalisation refers to simultaneous global and local developments of the digital image. The project draws from actor-media theory and theories of the “civil contract of (digital) photography” (Azoulay). It explores embodied practices of ethics and image-making by photojournalists, photo collectives and community archives in digital photography at the intersection of photojournalism and activism, digital archives and community/citizen participation.

b) Development of innovative methods: Visual (Auto-)Ethnography: Combining theory and practice, this sub-project further develops digital visual research methods. In order to be able to investigate ethics and visual action in a more differentiated way, interviews with photo experts – such as photojournalists – will be triangulated by self-reflexive photographic practice. The potential of digital visual (auto)ethnography as a qualitative research method lies in the intensive interconnectedness of the photographers, their perception, the heterogeneity of the respective environment and their reflexive positionality.

The digital image as part of visual research methods is at once a research tool, a research method and a research object. Incorporated practices of ethics and image-making can be significant when portraying vulnerable people, which is why ‘sharing’ in the sense of participation is integral. The digital image is recorded and stored on the move – in the digital camera, for example. It is one of the technologies that Sarah Pink calls “commodities of discourse” (Pink 2007). Ethics and image action circulate through digital photos and their multiple digital transmissions, such as photo agencies, personal websites, messenger services, photo contests, microblogging services, intermediaries, traditional media, etc.). My DFG project uses multidimensional digital methods such as image scraping, guided interviews with photojournalists (remote and in-person), and field research in visual (auto)ethnography through participation in workshops with photojournalists.

Project Leader:

Dr. Evelyn Runge, Universität zu Köln

Lydia Korte, Universität Köln

Selected project publications:

Runge, Evelyn. 2022. „Visuelle Autoethnografie. Feldforschung in Palermo bei einem Fotoworkshop“. Rundbrief Fotografie, Vol. 29, No. 3/4 [N.F. 115/116], 63-74. DOI:

Runge, Evelyn. 2021. „Para-Fotojournalismus: Vernetzte Bilder zwischen Profession und Partizipation. Zur Theorie des digitalen Bildes.“ In MEDIENwissenschaft: Rezensionen | Reviews 38 (2), 125–48. DOI:

Fotoausstellung: Runge, Evelyn. 2023. „Licht, Struktur, Begegnung – Street Photography in Palermo und Paris“. Fotoausstellung  in der Unibibliothek Köln, 18.1. bis 29.3.2023.

Podcast: Runge, Evelyn. 2022. „Die journalistische Wortsprache wird immer noch als höherwertig begriffen, als die Bildsprache.“ Gespräch mit Andy Scholz, Host und Producer des Podcasts “Fotografie. Neu. Denken.” Folge #098 (31.8.2022).

Fotocredit: Evelyn Runge