The new blog is live! ‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language’

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Photos Tell Stories - 72dpi_FLATOur new blog has been launched! Please check out ‘Photos Tell Stories’ for all updates about our first photography workshops in The Gambia, West Africa.

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Image © Jason Florio ‘Silafando’ – taken on ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush

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Image © Jason Florio – ‘River Gambia‘. Taken on the ‘River Gambia Expedition-1044km source-sea African odyssey

Photographer : Jason Florio

Workshop producer : Helen Jones-Florio

For our inaugural workshop (thanks to the U.S. Embassy, Banjul), we will be teaching an introduction to photography to students from the ages of 14-19 years old – focusing on how to use the camera as a means of visual storytelling. The workshop will also be a cultural exchange – through exposing Gambian students to the work of international professional photographers. Along with Jason presenting his work, we are honored to have a number of very accomplished photographers, whose work we greatly admire, who have contributed images : Manjari Sharma; Amber Terranova; Amy Toensing; Sari Goodfriend; Ryan Heffernan; Ben Lowy; Stefan Falke; Thomas Donley; Brandon Remler; Chris Bartlett; Wayne Lawrence, Robert Goldstein; Henry Jacobson; Heloise Bergman

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Contributing photographers

We’ll be updating this blog from time to time with any ‘River Gambia Expedition-1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ – please scroll through the following pages to read all about our River Gambia journey. For all updates and more information about the photography workshops, please visit the new blog ‘Photos Tell Stories

Many thanks

Helen & Jason Florio

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L-R: Ablie Janneh, Jason Florio, Chief Dadi Bah, Helen Jones-Florio – The Gambia, West Africa, 2009. Taken whilst on ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush-a 930km African odyssey’ expedition

‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea African odyssey’

The Journey – 1 river. 2 borders. 3 countries

Guinea – Senegal – The Republic of The Gambia

West Africa

When: Paddles in the water mid-November 2012– Late-January 2013

Why: To create an historical – visual /audio/written – document of the peoples, cultures and environment along one of Africa’s last, free flowing, major rivers – The River Gambia.

Estimated journey time: 2-3 months

Modes of transport: Canoes & Trekking & ‘Moto – Taxis’!

Expedition Leaders: Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

Mission Statement

Experienced West Africa travelers, husband and wife team - multi award-winning photographer and writer Jason Florio, and, photography and expedition producer and writer, Helen Jones-Florio – will attempt to create a modern-day account of the people, societies, and life along the length of one of Africa’s last, free-flowing, major rivers – the River Gambia. There has been talk of damming the river. This journey will also be about the impact to the communities, who daily lives rely on the river to survive, and the environmental impact of damming the river.

To read more, please visit:  Why Exactly Are We Doing This Expedition…

The River Gambia Expedition Route Map

The River Gambia – source to sea – map

And, to find out about our 2009 expedition - ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey’

Welcome on board! We look forward to having you all on the journey with us.

Thanks for your support,

Jason & Helen – ‘The Florios

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UPDATEMISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

We did it! We completed the River Gambia Expedition23rd November 2012 – 21st January 2013 - after almost 400km overland in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea-Conakry into Senegal and then putting our two canoes into the water in Kedougou – we paddled (no engine!) over 700km of the River Gambia to its end, at the Atlantic Ocean in Banjul, The Gambia.

During our travels, we bounced and rattled down the mountains of the Fouta Djallon on the back of motorcycle taxis; hung out with gold miners in Senegal; drank attayah tea with village chiefs and elders; dodged very angry hippos on the River Gambia; and, as we paddled on the increasingly widening ocean-like river, we battled the wind and waves, as we neared the Atlantic and the end of our journey.

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All in all, it was a phenomenal journey! Please scroll through the following pages to read and see more about the whole journey

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We did it!! Denton Bridge, Banjul, The Gambia – standing in the Atlantic Ocean! The River Gambia Expedition team. L-R: Helen Jones-Florio, Ebou Jarju, Abdou Ndong, Jason Florio

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River Gambia Expedition route map – YellowBrick Tracking Device (YB3) – click here to view our route through Guinea Conakry – Senegal – The Gambia, West Africa – over 1000km

Press – please visit our ‘meet the press’ page

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Press: VQR – Spring 2013: ‘River Gambia Expedition’ – images by Jason Florio

Jason Florio’s ‘River Gambia’ images nominated for ASME, 2014 – American Society of Magazine Editors – award

VQR Spring 2013 opening page_72dpiHot off the Press!

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Congratulations to co-expedition leader and photographer, Jason Florio for his nomination in the ‘feature photography’ section for this years ASME National Magazine Awards, 2014. The nomination came via Virginia Quarterly Review’s ‘Life of the River Gambia‘ – which featured images Jason took whilst on our ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044kim source-sea African odyssey‘ in 2012-13

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Winners will be announced May 1st, in New York City.

Fingers crossed!!

The Florios - Helen & Jason

What we are up to at the moment – back in The Gambia, West Africa: ‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language

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Team Farafenni! With FujiFilm USA digital cameras – ‘Photos Tell Stories‘ photography workshops

 

PRESS: The New Yorker Photo Booth Magazine features River Gambia ‘Source to Sea’

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 3.17.22 PMWe are thrilled to be featured in The New Yorker’s Photo Booth Magazine – thanks to Amber Terranova – with our River Gambia Expedition images by Jason Florio.

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 3.30.41 PM Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 3.24.14 PMWe are currently back in The Gambia, West Africa working on ‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language‘ to young Gambian students. You can check out some of the incredible work the students have been producing by clicking here

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The Florios – Jason and Helen

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Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, Photoville, NY, 2013. Image © Chris Bartlett

PRESS : ONE – join the fight against extreme poverty ‘An Expedition Down the River Gambia’

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The source of the River Gambia, Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, West Africa. Image © Jason Florio ‘River Gambia’

Communities along its length rely on it for their very existence, and with plans afoot to dam the river, we wanted to create a modern day account of the people who live and work along it’s banks before construction begins and their lives change.” Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio ‘River Gambia Expedition-1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ 

read more on ‘ONE - join the fight against extreme poverty’

ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organization of 3.5 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa… because the facts show extreme poverty has already been cut in half and can be virtually eliminated by 2030, but only if we act with urgency now.

Cofounded by Bono and strictly nonpartisan, we raise public awareness and work with political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs. ONE also works closely with African activists and policymakers as they fight corruption, promote poverty-fighting priorities, monitor the use of aid, and help build civil society and free enterprise‘.

Images taken whilst on the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey’ with Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio

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Young boys pose for a portrait on the banks of River Gambia in Senegal. They said they had painted their faces like skulls and their chests with soccer team numbers for their own amusement. Image © Jason Florio

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The son of Bakary Dabo, the Alkalo (village chief) of Diagabu Tenda, The Gambia wearing a ‘fur’ coat on a cool morning. Image © Jason Florio

 

A sneak preview : our first photography workshop in The Gambia West Africa

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teaching photography – a visual language

A sneak preview of our new logo for our first photography workshop, to be held in The Gambia, West Africa – commencing late December, 2013 – teaching young Gambian students.

We have some great contributing photographers on board already and we’re also partnering with some very generous companies.

However….we’ll be making an official announcement in the next week or so – once we’ve dotted and crossed ‘i’s’ and ‘t’s’.

Exciting stuff!

The Florios (H & Flo)

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Flo & H © Chris Bartlett, NYC – Photoville 2013

 

 

 

Youtube: ‘River Gambia’ – scenes from a 1044km source-sea African odyssey – a short film by Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio

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Malian Fisherwoman © Jason Florio - ‘River Gambia’

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Please click on the image, or here, to view the footage

‘Malian Fisherwoman’ © Jason Florio – ‘River Gambia

YouTube footage © Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio – taken from the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey’

Meet the press : aCurator, Geographical Magazine, VQR, Trunk Mag, Flak Photo, Dangerous Magazine, BBC, Stella Zine, National Geographic, GUP Mag, Outside, Life Force Mag, Travel Africa…

Thanks for the press!

We are just updating our ‘Meet the Press’ page, here on the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ blog, with the latest from Geographical Magazine – we got the cover, with one of Florio’s last images of our long journey, from his ‘River Gambia‘ series. And we were was astounded at the considerable amount of great international press we’ve garnered over the last couple of years, leading up to, during, and post both expeditions – our first one being in 2009 : ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey‘, which produced and award-winning body of work ‘Silafando‘ – Florio’s formal portraits of Gambian village chiefs and elders, who we stayed with, and which he took at the end of each day of our walk.

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Geographical Magazine - Cover shot © Jason Florio

With huge gratitude from both of us, all of the following and more have helped to share our journeys worldwide : aCurator, Geographical Magazine, Virginia Quarterly Review, Trunk Magazine, Flak Photo, BBC News in Pictures, National Geographic, Outside Magazine, GUP Magazine, Life Force Magazine, Dangerous Magazine, Stella Zine, Africa Geographic, Arik Airlines, Foto Care Blog, The War Diaries, Travel Africa Magazine, G-Layer Magazine, The Gambia Blog, Gothamist… . Read more about press, awards, and exhibitions here

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aCurator ‘River Gambia’ © Jason Florio

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VQR - Life on the River Gambia. Images © Jason Florio

We’re now looking forward to seeing what the near future brings and we hope that we’ll garner as much interest for our next venture(s) – which includes holding our first Gambian photography workshop, teaching young students, in December this year.

However, more on that shortly.

Onwards, upwards – and sometimes a little sideways…

The Florios (H & ‘Flo’)

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H & Florio - on top of the world – Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry, West Africa

 

 

Jason Florio – ‘Boy in the Mask’ – cover shot. Geographical Magazine, Dec 2013 issue

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Image © Jason Florio ‘River Gambia’

I can’t begin to tell you how surprised and elated we both were, upon opening our mail boxes yesterday morning, to find that Florio’s portrait of the ‘Boy in the Mask’ got the cover of Geographical Magazine’s December issue – the last portrait that he took when we were almost at the end of our recent ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘. Florio is a ‘Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society’ (FRGS), of which the magazine is affiliated. Since 1830, RGS, has been the ‘home’ of many esteemed, and greatly admired by us, explorers and expeditioners – of which we are mere fledglings (the River Gambia Expedition being only our second foray, delving into that world – our first was in 2009, when we walked 930km around The Gambia, with two donkeys and a cart; as one does). Therefore, it’s an immense honor to have our river expedition recognized by the Society, in this way.

Going with the flow
 – Inspired by stories of European adventurers exploring the great West African rivers, Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio follow the course of the River Gambia, from its source in Guinea to its mouth in its namesake...’ Geographical Magazine

Geographical on-lineThe December issue of the magazine is now in selected stores and available digitally – please check out the website here for more information.

We’ll be posting very shortly about our next West African venture – which includes teaching our first photography workshop in The Gambia.

More on that soon…please feel free to subscribe to the blog to receive our updates

The Florios (Helen & Jason ‘Florio’)

 

November Newsletter – press, exhibitions, and photography workshops in The Gambia

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To read the November Newsletter, please click on the image or here

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To read the November Newsletter, please click on the image or here

What the Florios are up to next

Photography workshops for students in The Gambia:
Whilst we were resting in The Gambia, after finishing our river expedition, we had the fortuitous opportunity to meet the cultural liaison from the US Embassy there – he was extremely interested in what we had done and a big fan of photography. We got talking about how we could share our skills with young African students – kids are fascinated with the camera and are often satisfied with just looking at their image on the screen, laughing hysterically, and then running away. However more than a few seem much more curious about how the camera actually works… . Please click here to read the full newsletter update.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by. More news coming soon.

The Florios (H & Flo)

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Florio & H – the end of a very successful exhibition of the River Gambia images, and video, at Photoville, NY, 2013

 

Behind the scenes : Jason Florio’s portrait of ‘Samba Fishing’ – the River Gambia, West Africa

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Florio photographs young Gambian, Samba, fishing on the River Gambia, Kuntaur, The Gambia, West Africa, 10th  January 2013 © Helen Jones-Florio

During our time canoeing down the River Gambia, on our exploration of the people whose livelihoods depend on the river, we spent each night wild camping on a different river bank – whether it be camping on a sand bank in the middle of the river (burning a fire all night long to deter the hippos), on rocky outcrops miles from the nearest village, and other times, on the edge of a village, if it was next to the bank.

This particular day, we arrived mid-afternoon into the village of Kuntaur – where we had stayed previously, whilst on our 2009 ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush‘ – which is situated on the banks of the river. We set up our campsite in the grounds of a small riverbank lodge and, as had become the norm, instantly attracting hordes of local kids – shouting and screaming, all vying for our attention, fascinated with our tents and equipment – before the caretaker of the lodge shooed them away – “atchayah! atchayah!” (go away, get lost! A Mandinka word Gambians use to scatter mischievous kids and the scores of scavenging bush dogs alike!).

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Samba comes from school to pull his nets from the River Gambia © Jason Florio

As we were about to settle down for a well-deserved cup of tea , having paddled almost 33km that day – a tough, exhausting 10km of it against the tide – we noticed a young boy, out on the river, in a local pirogue that looked far too big for him to handle on his own. We called him over and he paddled towards us with such ease and dexterity, as if he was steering a small rubber dinghy and not a heavy wooden dug out canoe, carved from a tree trunk.

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Samba fishing © Jason Florio

His name was Samba and he was ‘11 or 12 years old‘ (usually, in this part of the world, only the actual birth date is celebrated, which results in most people not really knowing exactly how old they are). He had come straight from school, to pull in his families fishing nets from the river, to see what catch they had that day. He was also the one who had thrown the nets, on his way to school that morning – as he did every day. He told us that, depending on the size of the catch, he would take a little home to his family and the rest he would take to the equivalent of the local fish monger to sell, to make money for his family and also to buy his school books and other materials, which were essential for him  to study.

We met a number of remarkable people – adults and children alike – on our river journey. Samba will always stick out in our minds…an inspiring little boy, to say the least. In fact, I can think of a couple of our nieces and nephews who think it’s the end of the world if they don’t get the latest upgrade cell phone, who would benefit greatly from spending just one day in Samba’s company!

Thanks, as ever, for stopping by.

More river stories soon.

The Florios (H & Flo)

Jason Florio: ‘River Gambia‘ body of work

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Flo & H © Chris Bartlett