As researchers working with youth in educational settings, we enter the research setting with a clear power differential. We used photo projects with the aim of fostering an environment where youth might express themselves freely and choose the starting point for our conversations. In this article, we share our experiences conducting photo-elicitation with youth at a nongovernmental organization in Guatemala and with high school students in Solomon Islands. It is hard for youth to vocalize the tensions and contradictions they experience growing up in contexts where coloniality continues to exert power in daily life. We suggest that using photo projects as an ethnographic method allows youth to reflect on their identities and desires for the future in a way that opens doors to conversations and reduces the power differential between researcher and participant. This is especially important in educational settings, which often rely on Western standards to shape the futures that young people imagine for themselves.

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