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

 

 

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

Thanks to SOL Laptops for supporting our next West Africa photography adventure: ‘When you need to share your adventure, just “plug” into the sun!’

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Image courtesy of the SOL Laptop website

Sometimes there is a need to have a techie blog post – particularly when it comes to the SOL Laptop! Read on…

On both our River Gambia Expedition and A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush expedition, powering our gear – particularly our laptops, essential for uploading Florios images and updating the blog – has always been a big hurdle to overcome and, despite having extensively researched before purchasing the latest gadgets using solar power technology, on both expeditions we ended up purchasing a car battery locally to charge our gear effectively and fully! Therefore, we are constantly on the look out for solar power technology that does in fact do exactly as it says it will do on the box. So, imagine our delight when we came across a recent review on the G-Layer blog – the Australian sister company to Yellowbrick, UK, who sponsored our recent River Gambia journey with the YB3 tracking device:

‘Cutting-edge sustainable technology is what we’re all about here at the G-Layer, and we’re always on the lookout for new exciting developments, so when we discovered the SOL solar laptop we were overwhelmed by the possibilities this tough little computer offers to our sun-drenched country!

The 10-hour laptop’s battery  is charged by a built-in solar panel (detachable).

SOL can be connected to the internet using the 4G network or an optional satellite module, opening up the world wide web to communities, schools and workers all over Australia. This revolutionary product will also feature a GPS, HD graphics and an integrated webcam. Using the latest in nanotechnology construction, and priced at a sum nearly anyone can afford, we believe this product will revolutionise life in the outback, which is why we had to bring it to our customers at the first opportunity!’ G Layer

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Image courtesy of the SOL Laptop website

And we were thrilled beyond belief when, after submitting to Sol Laptops, a Canadian based company, about our next West Africa venture, we won a place in their Expedition Sol‘ …choice of ‘professionals, researchers, adventurers and unique individuals‘ to get our very own SOL Laptop when it is officially launched later in the year!

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Expedition Sol – meet the explorers (click here or on image to view page). Image © Jason Florio , with Helen Jones-Florio and the village chief of Tuba Dabbo, The Gambia, W Africa, 2009

And, as for our next West Africa venture? You’ll just have to stay tuned until we are ready to officially announce our plans! However, again, it will most definitely involve lots of great photography – and this time, we hope, not just from Florio – and neither should we have any of this nonsense…

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…Helen: “I haven’t got enough power – again!” Image © Jason Florio – Sila Kounda, Senegal. Camping on the roof of the village chiefs compound, 2012

Why? Because, we’ll have ‘The world’s first truly solar-powered laptop’. It never needs to be plugged in!’.

Immense thanks to the team at SOL Laptops (WeWi Corp)  for inviting us on board.

More news soon, about what we are planning next.

The Florios (H & Flo)

‘River Gambia’ – images by Jason Florio from a 1044km source-sea African odyssey

‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘. Take a journey with Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio - over landing from the source of the River Gambia in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, canoeing through the gold-bearing lands of South East Senegal, and on into The Republic of The Gambia, where one of Africa’s last major free-flowing rivers meets the Atlantic Ocean.

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© Helen Jones-Florio

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Youtube: Too close encounter with a hippo © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

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© Jason Florio

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© Jason Florio

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Youtube: A ten-minute journey along the River Gambia © Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio

More about our journey in the forth coming book…more about that soon…

The Florios

Read about our 2009 expedition : ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush-a 930km source-sea African odyssey

 

 

Youtube: ‘River Gambia’ footage from a 1044km African odyssey – and other African journeys by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

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Youtube: River Gambia © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

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‘Boys with Painted Faces‘ River Gambia © Jason Florio

River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ with photographer/writer, Jason Florio, and, producer/writer, Helen Jones-Florio. A journey, spanning three West African countries, to find the source of the River Gambia and to document the lives of those people who live, work, and rely on this mighty African river.

Interview with Outside Magazine – ‘Expedition Improv‘  HelenWe actually offered him (Yousef, our Malian fisherman/guide/hippo expert) more money to come further along the river with us but he had a family to get back to in Kédougou. We were sad to see him go. In that short week, he became a member of our little team, albeit a slightly bonkers one

Jason: “At one point, he was guiding us through these sections of rock and fast-moving water, and about 20 feet in front of us, a hippo just comes rearing out of the water. It had been submerged. We had startled it. We could have gone over the back of this thing, but instead we scrambled very quickly over onto the bank and climbed up on some rocks. For the next hour, he spent time shooting rocks at it from a homemade catapult. The thing wouldn’t move. We were back there clinging to the bushes and the rocks for an hour and a half. The hippo just didn’t want to let us get by—watching us, watching it, watching us. Eventually, we just kind of clung to the undergrowth and just pulled the canoe through really slowly. Finally, we got past him. That was a serious crash course in hippo etiquette” Read full interview here

To read about our first West African journey – ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey – please click here. Images of the village chiefs (Alkalos) and elders, ‘Silafando’, which were taken along the way, by Jason Florio.

Florio – interview with FlakPhoto – Making Pictures of People  “I had been working yearly in The Gambia since 1996 making portraits of people who live around a sacred forest. My wife Helen came up with the idea of making the first recorded circumnavigation of The Gambia by foot. So with three Gambians and two donkeys we headed off around the country in November 2009. I decided to work in the same style as with the forest portraits, using a 70-year old cloth to formalize the setting.” full interview and images here

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Youtube – Florio makes a portrait of Alkalo Landing Jammeh, Kalaji, The Gambia – footage by Helen Jones-Florio

We’ll be updating soon about our next African journey…please stay with us

The Florios

 

Press: ‘A River Runs Through It’ – Arik Airlines ‘Wings’ Magazine – images by Jason Florio

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Photography Jason Florio – Words Jason Florio with Helen Jones-Florio

JF: “In 2009 my wife Helen and I escaped our New York home and took off on a 930km circumnavigation of The Republic of The Gambia by foot, along with three Gambian friends and two donkeys.

Seven days into our 42 day walk, we both decided that this journey would be a warm-up for something bigger. We had no idea at that exact moment what the ‘something bigger’ might be, but as Picasso once said: ‘“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Well, in this case, it was to find us walking…” read the whole article here

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Jason Florio at Bonto Pier, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

Excerpts taken from the forthcoming book about the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea African odyssey

Happy Birthday, Peter James English (1939-2011) – an inspiration

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James & ‘Beth’, taking a bath – Mandina Balong, Makasutu Culture Forest, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Jason Florio

Happy Birthday, James (1939-2011) – the greatest teller of stories and a guiding light. You are missed.

The ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’ is dedicated to the memory of a great friend, inspirator, poet and global traveler: Peter James English  co-founder of Makasutu Culture Forest 

With Love

H & Flo x x

PRESS: Flakphoto ‘Making Pictures of People’ – Recent Perspectives on Photographic Portraiture

Flakphoto_chiefsflakphoto2_chiefs‘Making Pictures of People’ Recent Perspectives on Photographic Portraiture Presented by FlakPhoto in association with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Tell us about these pictures – interview with Jason Florio I made these portraits of Gambian Alkalos (village chiefs) and elders during a 42-day, 930km circumnavigation of The Republic of The Gambia, West Africa by foot…” read more here

Big thanks to Andy Adams/Flakphoto for including Jason Florio in ‘Making Pictures of People‘ – featuring the portraits of village chiefs and elders, from our 2009 expedition: ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush - 930km African odyssey‘, which became an award-winning body of work called ‘Silafando’

 

 

Jason Florio presents his photography at the Bronx Documentary Center, NY

A big thank you to Mike Kamber and Nina Robinson, for inviting us up to the Bronx Documentary Center, NY, last night, where Jason Florio presented his work as a photojournalist – to a group of photography students – and also showed images from our three Gambia-based projects, which we’ve worked on together: ‘Makasutu-mecca in the forest‘, ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey‘(+ the blog), and ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea African odyssey(+ the blog).

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Ready to roll © Helen Jones-Florio

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Florio at work – Bronx Documentary Center, NY © Helen Jones-Florio

Afterwards, we were honored to see some of the students presenting current photography, and film, projects they are working on. To say that we were impressed would be an understatement. We saw thought provoking, professional, well-executed work. We could have sat there all night, happy to see all of the students present their work. However, I guess we had to let them go home at some time, and 11.30pm seemed about that time!

Hats off to Mike, and his team at the BDC, for opening their door and being so giving of their time, expertise and experience, for these free workshops. BDC also hold a free film workshop, on Tuesdays (I believe), and Mike said they are considering starting a writing workshop. Please do go and check the center out – they have many other events too, from photo exhibitions to screening nights.

HJF

To get an update of what we are up to as of today (Aug 2nd, 2013), please check out this link.