Abstract More effective tools are needed to empower stakeholder participation in tourism planning processes, and volunteer-employed photography (VEP) is a promising option. This paper discusses the use of VEP to inform tourism planning on St David's Peninsula in Wales. Locals and tourists were given cameras and photo diaries, and asked to use VEP to comment on what they do and do not appreciate about the area, existing planning problems and ways to avoid future planning problems. Through this case, the paper examines the appropriateness of VEP as a tool for assisting tourism planning. The major finding is that a richer, deeper and more valuable dataset can be generated through the participation of host communities and visitors using the VEP approach. As a means of visually representing participants' views, VEP can be a powerful data collection and analysis tool, making a significant addition to the tourism planning toolkit at the local level.