PLEASE CHECK OUT OUR PHOTOSTELLSTORIES BLOG
‘In 1818, Gaspard Mollien, a young French explorer, knelt and drank from a tiny pool of water enveloped by a dense thicket in the remote Fouta Djallon highlands of Guinea. His discovery by locals at this sacred spot would have surely meant his death. This seemingly inconsequential puddle, filled from giant underground cisterns in the belly of the ferruginous Fouta plateau, was the end to his epic quest – the source of River Gambia. Almost two hundred years later, entering the same woods, I felt deep reverence, something approaching religious and spiritual. I had spent almost a year tracing maps to determine this actual spot, and only when Helen, my wife and expedition partner, found Mollien’s diary at the Royal Geographical Society…’ Jason Florio - read more in Sidetracked Magazine, June 2014
Other relevant links that you may like to check out, from the Florios West Africa travels:
‘River Gambia’ – Jason Florio’s portraits of people who live and work along the river (the blog carries on after this post)
‘Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey‘ – Jason Florio’s award-winning portraits of the alkalo’s (village chiefs) and elders taken whilst on the walk
‘Makasutu – mecca in the forest‘ Jason Florio’s large format B&W portraits of the people who live and work around a sacred forest
‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language‘ Jason & Helen Florio’s most recent project in The Gambia
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
Winners will be announced May 1st, in New York City.
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‘
We 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
“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
‘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’
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 an 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.
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
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’)
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
The 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’)
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)
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!).
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.
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