Vimeo – Award-winning photographer Jason Florio talks about the River Gambia Expedition 2012 and ‘An Exchange’ for his fine art prints

To view the above Vimeo footage, please click on the above image. And, to check out the whys and wherefores about our River Gambia Expedition 2012, please click here

OK…now its time for our BIG push on the fundraising front. We’re not going to beat about the bush, or be too proud here (we can’t afford to be, for starters). We’ve raised around 25% of what we need to get this expedition fully off the ground – or to get our paddles in the River Gambia, to begin our ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’. But here’s the skinny on what we still need to raise: $9,000 / £7,500 – by the end of September – as in 2012 September! Crikey!

Firstly though, and very importantly, we’ve been overwhelmed, and humbled, by the response we’ve had so far to our ‘An Exchange’ programme – from friends, family and colleagues alike. Florio’s fine art photography prints, from images he will take on the expedition (for donations of $100/£65 and over), will be winging their way to them once we return from the journey. We’ve also had some incredible product sponsorship, which helps to cut back considerably on what we originally had to raise. We’re extremely grateful for this support too.

Here is an example of one of Florio’s delectable fine art prints that we offered to our donators from our last expedition, ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’ in 2009 – ‘Herouna with his white horse’ which was also one of the favourite images that people chose, from what became an award-winning series of portraits of Gambian chiefs and elders.

Herouna with his white horse, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio 2009

Florio and I will be covering our own expenses for the expedition, but what we really need help with are the on-the-ground hard cash expenses needed for operating a project such as this, down in West Africa – which Florio explains rather succinctly on the above Vimeo footage. But, to give you a quick run down, any monies raised will be used to pay our two Gambian team mates, Abdou and Ebou, for 2-3 months (they also both have extended family to support whilst they are on the journey with us); Guinea and Senegal guides/fixers; medical supply kits, emergency get-out contingency plans (which, hopefully we won’t need, but…)…the list goes on. But, to get on the River Gambia, we need your help.

Dusk – Fisherman in the River Gambia © Jason Florio 2009. A rare, much-needed, and blissful, break from our 930km walk around The Gambia.

As mentioned, we’ve have some great product sponsors on board already but… if any of you have any connections with camping gear, hiking boot etc. (please see our full wish list on the ‘An Exchange’ page) manufacturers, we’d be ever so grateful if you would share this post and/or the blog link.

If you don’t have the spare resources to exchange for one of Florio’s a fine art prints, then no problem (however, there is still time to enter the Aug 31st ‘Print Draw’ - donations of $25/£16 gives you the chance to win one of his prints)…we are more than happy to have you on board, following our journey on here, the blog, and our FB page. You can also contribute by spreading the word about the River Gambia Expedition 2012 with your friends. Please. We’d appreciate that very much indeed.

And, for those who wish to become involved in ‘An Exchange’, again, please check out the Vimeo footage and/or click on this link for all the information that you need to donate through Paypal – or, if you’ve gotten this far and have already decided to jump on board with us (thanks for the faith in what we’re planning), simply click on the Paypal icon in the right hand column of this page, which will take you directly to the PayPal website.

With thanks, gratitude and eternal hope!

Helen & Florio (The Florios)

P.S. Just another little taster of the sublime quality of the fine art photography which Florio produces, when he is behind his camera – prints of similar beauty could belong to you, from this forthcoming expedition

Gambian woman waiting for the ferry to cross the River Gambia in Karantaba, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio 2009

Dream boats…folding Canadian canoe…anyone? We just need ONE more. Can you help?

Jason Florio – Photographer and River Gambia Expedition Co-Leader model’s our new Ally Canoe (by Bergan’s of Norway)…beautifully. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

NEWSFLASH! 21st Aug 2012: we now are the proud owners of 1 x 811 16.5′ Ally Folding Canoe – BIG thanks to Tamarack Outdoors, UK, for facilitating a deal with Bergan’s of Norway (who make the expedition-style beauties). Now…we just need one more…read on…

OK…as sad as this sounds, over the last few months, Florio and I spent an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about the ideal canoes for our ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’. They have to be folding – as there will be times when we will need to portage all our camping and camera gear and the canoes, where the River Gambia is impassable – on our journey through the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, on into Niokolo Koba National Park in Senegal, and then finally into The Gambia. The canoes need to be lightweight, shock-absorbable (is that an actual word? Anyhooo, we need to know that if we, say, accidentally bump into the odd hippo – out of 6,000 of ‘em! in Niokolo, the craft won’t fall apart on impact!), flexible, insulated, have a high-load capacity, anatomic seats would be nice and, most importantly, easier (and quicker) to assemble then a Ikea PAX wardrobe. Oh…and they need to be about 17ft-18ft long – to fit 2-3 passengers (for when we pick up guides, and the odd armed guard, along the way). Colour – optional. Personally though, I’m partial to green or red.

Lastly, we need two one more of the things. Actually, (Bergan’s of) Norway and a little place in New Hampshire (PakBoats), USA, produce some beautiful crafts that fit our criteria perfectly.

Route Map – River Gambia Expedition 2012-1000km source to sea African odyssey

If there is anyone out there who might be able to help us with sponsorship for two one more canoe, please check out the ‘An Exchange’ page for more information. We also have a pdf of how we publicize all the product sponsors we have on board (pun most definitely intended). We have some fantastically generous product donators with us, so far.

OK…back to dream boats.

The Florios

Please click on the image below to watch Jason Florio as he explains how you can own one of his fine art photography prints, from a series of images he will take whilst on the expedition:

The ’811 16.5′ Ally Folding Canoe, made by Bergans of Norway, is out of the box…and the cardboard box continues to have its uses

The Ally is out of the box – as modelled by Florio – Expedition photographer and co-leader. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

And the empty box has it’s uses…as modelled by Jacob. Image © Jason Florio

If you would like to find out how you can help us get the 2nd canoe that we need for our Gambian team mates, Abdou and Ebou, for the ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’ please check out expedition photographer and co-leader, Jason Florio, on Vimeo…he explains all.

Footage of the Ally being assembled coming shortly!

Thanks for popping by.

Toodle-pip!

The Florios

P.S. Thanks again to Tony, Tamarack Outdoors, for facilitating the deal with Bergans of Norway for the canoe.

Vimeo: Multi award-winning photographer, Jason Florio, talks about the River Gambia Expedition 2012 -’An Exchange/Fine Art Prints

Please click on above image to view video

‘The River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source-sea African odyssey’

1 river. 2 borders. 3 countries

Guinea-Senegal-The Gambia, West Africa

Paddles in the water by early October 2012

Some of you know that Helen and I are heading to West Africa in October, on an expedition to document the people and culture along the length of one of Africa’s last free flowing major rivers – The River Gambia. We will be traveling by canoe and foot over 1000km (2-3 months) from the river’s source in the highlands of Guinea, through Senegal and finally to where it meets the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of The Republic of The Gambia.

Plans are afoot to dam the river. Although this will bring electricity to the region, it will also create massive changes in the lives of displaced communities, and to the diverse eco-systems that the river supports, including the Niokolo Koba national park- a World Heritage site already suffering from under-funding and poachers. The region is also experiencing ‘urban drift’ – young people leaving village life for economic possibilities in larger towns, as well as the USA and Europe, resulting in the loss of traditional culture and practices.

We aim to create visual and written documents to be used as educational tools (traveling exhibition, talks, web, print media) to bring better awareness, appreciation and understanding of the diverse cultures, societies and traditions of the communities who live and work along the meandering course of the river. By using canoes and hiking we also hope to encourage lo-impact travel in the promotion of cultural exchange.

We have some great sponsors and partners onboard already for the expedition, but with so many major photographic based endeavors these days, it’s very difficult to get the media to commit to assigning such longer term stories, and secure timely grant funding.

We have partnered again with The Gambia Experience andDPx Gear, and have new collaborators, including YellowBrick, Overboard, SteriPen, Peli Cases, GoPro Cameras, OpenCast, Tamarack Outdoors, and Bergen Ally canoes, Teva and GoalZero.

BUT – here is where we would love to get you involved. We need hard cash to cover an additional $9000 USD for on-the-ground expenses including salaries and gear for our West African team members, guides, porters, security/park rangers, accommodation, food, insurance, medical emergencies, support transport, satellite communications….. as of today we have raised 25% of our goal !!

We are not looking for handouts, but as we did with our 2009 expedition, we will be giving limited edition fine art prints from photographs I take on the expedition in exchange for your financial support.

The portraits I made on our 2009 expedition, and given to supporters were awarded International Photography Award’s, 2010 – ‘People Photographer of the Year.’

‘Herouna with his horse’ The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio 2009

Thanks to YellowBrick you will be able to follow us on an online map that will ping our location daily, as well as allow us to update our blog / Facebook. You will even be able to send us text messages to see how your Dollars/Euros/Pounds are being used to support the expedition along the way.

To see press that the River Gambia Expedition 2012 has garnered so far, please visit the blog via this link ‘Meet the Press’

OK – Now here is the easy bit. Please take a moment and click ‘HERE’ to see how to become a supporter of the expedition and decide which size print will fit perfectly on your wall in exchange for your support.

We need to get all the funding in place by October 1st 2012

As an added incentive for all of you who donate over $100 by August 31st you will not only receive the limited edition expedition print, but we’ll also put your name in the hat for our August 31st ‘Print Draw’ – for a limited edition fine art 16 x20 inch print ($1500 gallery price).

But for just $25 you can have a chance to participate in our August ‘Print Draw’ too ! Click ‘HERE’ to see the images and how to get your name in the hat.

Please drop us a line with any questions about the prints, gear sponsorship, and media or about any other way you would like to get involved.

Many thanks for taking the time to explore what we are doing – we hope you will become part of our expedition support team …

…even if it is from your armchair!

Jason and Helen

Meet the River Gambia Expedition Team

Contact: Jason Florio florio@floriophoto.com www.floriophoto.com

helen.jones@floriophoto.com for Product Sponsorship

Vimeo: award-winning photographer, Jason Florio, talks about ‘An Exchange’ for his fine art prints

Vimeo – Florio explains all about ‘An Exchange’ and how to own one of his fine art photography prints. Footage directed and edited by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio – filmed by HJF for ‘Wobbly Productions’ 2012

To view the above Vimeo footage, please click on the above image. And, to check out the whys and wherefores about our River Gambia Expedition 2012, please click here

OK…now its time for our BIG push on the fundraising front. We’re not going to beat about the bush, or be too proud here (we can’t afford to be, for starters). We’ve raised around 25% of what we need to get this expedition fully off the ground – or to get our paddles in the River Gambia, to begin our ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’. But here’s the skinny on what we still need to raise: $9,000 / £7,500 – by the end of September – as in 2012 September! Crikey!

Firstly though, and very importantly, we’ve been overwhelmed, and humbled, by the response we’ve had so far to our ‘An Exchange’ programme – from friends, family and colleagues alike. Florio’s fine art photography prints, from the expedition (for as little as $100/£65 – however, even £25/£16 will reap benefits for the donor – see the ‘An Exchange’ page), will be winging their way to them once we return from the journey. We’ve also had some incredible product sponsorship, which helps to cut back considerably on what we originally had to raise. We’re extremely grateful for this support too.

Here is an example of one of Florio’s delectable fine art prints that we offered to our donators from our last expedition, ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’ in 2009 – ‘Herouna with his white horse’ which was also one of the favourite images that people chose, from what became an award-winning series of portraits of Gambian chiefs and elders.

Herouna with his white horse, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio 2009

Florio and I will be covering our own expenses for the expedition, but what we really need help with are the on-the-ground hard cash expenses needed for operating a project such as this, down in West Africa – which Florio explains rather succinctly on the above Vimeo footage, accompanied by more of his very pretty photos. But, to give you a quick run down, any monies raised will be used to pay our two Gambian team mates, Abdou and Ebou, for 2-3 months (they also both have extended family to support whilst they are on the journey with us); Guinea and Senegal guides/fixers; medical supply kits, emergency get-out contingency plans (which, hopefully we won’t need, but…)…the list goes on. But, to get on the River Gambia, we need your help.

Dusk – Fisherman in the River Gambia © Jason Florio 2009. A rare, much-needed, and blissful, break from our 930km walk around The Gambia.

As mentioned, we’ve have some great product sponsors on board already but if any of you have any connections with camping gear, hiking boot etc. (please see our full wish list on the ‘An Exchange’ page) manufacturers, we’d be ever so grateful if you would share this post and/or the blog link.

If you don’t have the spare resources to exchange for one of Florio’s a fine art prints, then no problem. We are more than happy to have you on board, following our journey on here, the blog, and our FB page. However, you can help – by spreading the word about the River Gambia Expedition 2012 with your friends. Please. We’d appreciate that very much indeed.

And, for those who wish to become involved in ‘An Exchange’, please check out the Vimeo footage and/or click on the link for all the information that you need to donate through Paypal – or, if you’ve gotten this far and have already decided to jump on board with us (thanks for the faith in what we’re planning), simply click on the Paypal icon in the right hand column of this page, which will take you directly to the PayPal website.

With thanks, gratitude and eternal hope!

Helen & Florio (The Florios)

P.S. Just another little taster of the sublime quality of the fine art photography which Florio produces, when he is behind his camera – prints of similar beauty could belong to you, from this forthcoming expedition

Gambian woman waiting for the ferry to cross the River Gambia in Karantaba, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio 2009

Privacy, personal space? In a small West African Village? Are you kidding me!

I posted some photos yesterday, on here, the River Gambia Expedition 2012 blog, about our day out at the seaside, along with a couple of pics showing us (the UK/USA expedition team leaders – H & Flo) back at work in our ‘production office’. Because Summer suddenly hit the UK again over the last couple of days, we decided to relocate our office set up from the barn to the garden – which just happens to be a beautifully lush, flower-filled oasis, in the Surrey countryside (thanks again to Flo’s mum and dad, Rodger and Wendy, for very generously hosting us whilst we plot and plan our big expedition).

‘Are we in West Africa yet, dear?’ H & Flo – the UK/USA River Gambia Expedition 2012 team co-leaders. Image courtesy of Wendy Florio

On seeing the photo, a good friend quipped, ironically, about “roughing it?” – obviously referring to our salubrious environment. And, it got me thinking about our last West Africa expedition – ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush’ – where we walked 930km around The Gambia, one of the smallest countries on the mainland of the African continent, with three Gambian friends, two donkeys, and a cart to carry our camping and camera gear.

‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’ - the expedition team on the road at dawn. Image © Jason Florio – 2009

Thursday 12th November, 2009 – Distance walked to-date: 248.57km. Soto Koi village, The Gambia, West Africa – excerpt taken from Helen’s forthcoming book: ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – minty abanta!’

‘Flo photographed the Alkalo’s (chief) son, Jiki Bayai – he’s a handsome young man, looking dapper, in a trendy, freshly laundered, dark purple shirt (we call him the ‘Prada Man’). His father was off, miles away, tending to the fields. Flo also photographed various village elders, and a farmer (the chiefs brother) who insisted on getting his goats into the picture – as one does.

Samba Sowe (Alkalo’s brother)- farmer – Soto Koi village, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Jason Florio

After we finish the shoot (making the portrait of the village chief), Flo and I each have our most public ‘bath’ to-date – although the bathing area would be considered private by most Gambian standards. The ‘bathrooms’ in most compounds are often made up of a combination of assorted corrugated rusty sheets of iron, odd bits of wood and scrappy remnants of old fabric, which acts as a door. Some are extremely clean (i.e. the ground is swept and kept tidy). There is rarely a roof – there really is nothing quite like looking up at the sky when bathing and feeling the heat of the sun on your body. In the centre of these bathing areas, there’s usually a hole in the ground (the toilet), sometimes covered but more often not. Beside the hole, a small area of flat ground, sometimes with a raised platform, made of wood or concrete, which you stand and wash on, using a bucket of cold water. The cool water is the most refreshing feeling in the world after 7-8 hours walking in the heat. When bathing in the dark, we learned early on not to shine our torches on the ground area, as you are in danger of seeing what, or who, you are sharing you bath with: all manner of crawling, scuttling, creatures including the flying variety!

H: “How can I sneak to the ‘bathroom’ without all these kids following me?!” The village of Killy (also known as ‘Killing’),The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Jason Florio, 2009

Anyway, back to our most public bath. Lets just say that there are often lots of holes in the structure’s of the ‘walls’ of the bathing areas and the local kids are very keen to see what is under the ‘toubabo’s’ clothes! This particular bathroom had so many holes, it looked as if they were holding the corrugated iron together. The walls being barely shoulder height, along with looking out onto the main road through the village, I did feel conspicuously exposed. It’s not the first time either of us have looked around to see young – and some, not so young – curious eyes peering in, through the holes, as we bathe. We can be sure it won’t be the last either.

We’re in paradise – Khalaji village campsite, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Jason Florio 2009

And, if we still need to justify making the most of the luxury’s of living in a first world country, before we emerge ourselves, completely, back into developing West African culture whereby, 99% of the time, we won’t have anywhere near half of the comforts of home – hot running water, electricity, ice-cold drinks, privacy or private space – the countries we travel through, whilst on our River Gambia journey (Guinea, Senegal and The Gambia), will reveal their own individual comforts, beauty, and richness – just look at the above photo…camping in Khalaji village was like paradise for us – despite the usual avid, and constant audience of kids and their folks!

Thanks, as always for stopping by. We appreciate you jumping on board for the ride!

The Florios

Dream boats…folding Canadian canoe…anyone?

Jason Florio – Photographer and River Gambia Expedition Co-Leader model’s our new Ally Canoe (by Bergan’s of Norway)…beautifully. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

NEWSFLASH! 21st Aug 2012: we now are the proud owners of 1 x 811 16.5′ Ally Folding Canoe – BIG thanks to Tamarack Outdoors, UK, for facilitating a deal with Bergan’s of Norway (who make the expedition-style beauties). Now…we just need one more…read on…

OK…as sad as this sounds, Florio and I spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about the ideal canoes for our ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’. They have to be folding – as there will be times when we will need to portage all our camping and camera gear and the canoes, where the River Gambia is impassable, on our journey through the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, on into Niokolo Koba National Park in Senegal, and then finally into The Gambia. The canoes need to be lightweight, shock-absorbable (is that an actual word? Anyhooo, we need to know that if we, say, accidentally bump into the odd hippo in Niokolo, the craft won’t fall apart on impact!), flexible, insulated, have a high-load capacity, anatomic seats would be nice and, most importantly, easier (and quicker) to assemble then a Ikea PAX wardrobe! Oh…and they need to be about 17ft long – to fit 2-3 passengers (for when we pick up guides, and the odd armed guard, along the way). Colour – optional. Personally though, I’m partial to green or red.

Lastly, we need two one of the things. Actually, Norway and a little place in New Hampshire, USA, produce some beautiful crafts that fit our criteria perfectly.

Route Map – River Gambia Expedition 2012-1000km source to sea African odyssey

If there is anyone out there who might be able to help us with sponsorship for two one canoe, please check out the ‘An Exchange’ page for more information. We also have a pdf of how we publicize all the product sponsors we have on board (pun most definitely intended). We have some fantastically generous product donators with us, so far.

OK…back to dream boats.

The Florios

Please click on the image below to watch Jason Florio as he explains how you can own one of his fine art photography prints, from a series of images he will take whilst on the expedition: