Press: Sidetracked Magazine feature ‘River Gambia Expedition’

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 9.07.05 AMScreen Shot 2014-06-18 at 8.54.20 AM‘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

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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)

A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush - 930km African odyssey‘ the blog

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

Meet the Press – news and awards

 

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

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’)

 

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

Behind the scenes : Jason Florio’s portrait of the chiefs son – ‘Ebrima in Fur’ – The Gambia, West Africa

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Dawn in the village of Diagabu Tenda, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

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Youtube: Jason Florio photograph’s Ebrima in his ‘fur’ coat, The Gambia, West Africa – filmed by Helen Jones-Florio. Click here or on above image to view footage

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The end result – Ebrima comes to bid us farewell at our campsite on the banks of the River Gambia © Jason Florio

The journey continues… ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey

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Youtube: ‘RIVER GAMBIA EXPEDITION – 1044km source-sea African odyssey’ Footage © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio. Click here or on above image to view footage

 

Interview with Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio: ‘River Gambia Expedition’ – Connected by Far

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 11.57.40 AMThanks to our East Africa friend, Yvette Pennacchia, for her recently posted interview, on ‘Connected by Far‘,  with us about the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘. Angry hippo’s, mutiny, and more !

Connected by Far: ‘What possesses a British couple to leave their apartment in New York City and decide to canoe 750km of the 1044km long River Gambia, in West Africa – one of Africa’s last major free-flowing rivers – in two Ally 811 Norwegian folding canoes, which they fondly named ‘The Twins’, and travel by motorcycles, local taxis, and a ancient, rusty 4×4 Land Cruiser to get to the source of the river and then back (one such ride took 24 hours over the rockiest of roads in the Fouta Djallon Highlands) to pick up their canoes from Kedougou, on the border of Senegal?‘…read more here

Looking back : the River Gambia Expedition team pay a visit to those people who will be displaced when the proposed dam is built

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The village of Runde Bara, Senegal – one of the villages which will be wiped out if the proposed dam on the River Gambia is built © Jason Florio

Tuesday 22nd October 2013: As Florio and I continue to carry on with the writing of our book about the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ we’re revisiting the journey, we completed in January of this year, day by day. Following is an excerpt from just one day out of the two months we spent on the road and canoeing the River Gambia – documenting the lives of those people who live and work on one of Africa’s last major free-flowing rivers -  through three West African countries – Guinea-Conakry, Senegal, and The Republic of The Gambia 

Blog post:December 12th, 2012

Back in Kedougou, Senegal – prepping to get ‘The Twins’ – Ally 811 canoes – onto the River Gambia + negotiations, Senegalese style.
Florio and Ebou return late afternoon, from the proposed site of the dam – which will result in the entire population of three villages being ‘relocated’ – on the Senegal side of the river and four to five on the Guinea-Conakry side. Florio had spoken with some of the local villagers in the area who had been told by the government, in 2011, that they were to stay where they were, for now. The reason being was that the dam construction workers would need to be fed and housed. However, the villagers would be ‘compensated for everything’. ‘Hey people, stick around for a bit longer, before we shove you off the land that you have lived on for hundreds of years – to a undetermined location – so that you can cook, launder and take care of the very people who are going to wipe your history right off the map!Read more here
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Sightseeing on route to Runde Barra – Dindefalo waterfall, Senegal © Jason Florio
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We also filmed during the entire expedition and recently, when we were invited to exhibit Florio’s ‘River Gambia‘ body of work at Photoville, New York, 2013, we put together a short piece of film for the event. Please click here or on the below images to view. ‘River Gambia’ © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio
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More updates coming soon – particularly about the photography workshop we are prepping to teach, to young Gambian students, come December. Stay tuned!
Thanks, as ever, for checking in.
The Florios (H & Flo)