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 .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 in 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 on our next African journey…please stay with us

The Florios

 

PRESS: Trunk Magazine – ‘Gambia’ – “Trunk’s longest layout yet. 18 pages of breathtaking portraits” by Jason Florio”

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Whilst we were on the River Gambia Expedition, New York based, Trunk Magazine ran Florio’s portraits of village chiefs and elders, which he took on our 2009 expedition – ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush-930km African odyssey’. The spread, in the hard copy, is 18 pages of Florio’s beautiful, colourful, portraits and, because they didn’t have enough physical space, they also ran it on line so that they could show more of the images!

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“There and Back Again” is Trunk’s longest layout yet. 18 pages of breathtaking portraits of chieftains (or alkalos) from the numerous Gambian villages that photographer Jason Florio visited on his circumnavigation (by foot!) of the country. We would’ve run the article even longer, but needed to fit all of our must-read stories into the issue…” Trunk Magazine

It’s really wonderful to see Florio’s striking the portraits from our long walk around The Gambia continuing to appear – over three years later. Lets hope the new work, from the River Gambia Expedition has the same impact. Florio is working on his edit right now…so, please keep watching this space.

A BIG thanks to David Ciccone, Creative Director, and all at Trunk for the feature – and the support!

Jason (‘Florio’) and Helen

P.S. you can check out more press/awards here

Youtube and Vimeo – River Gambia Expedition, West Africa and more

 

 

We’ve put all of our Vimeo and Youtube footage on one page. All things photography, West Africa, photojournalism, travel, expeditions, canoeing, and more!

 

 

Formal portraits of the ‘Short Walk in the Gambian Bush’ 2009 expedition team by Jason Florio

A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush team - 2009

The expedition team members from our 2009 journey: A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km Africa odyssey – images 1,3,5 & 5 © Jason Florio image 2 © Helen Jones-Florio

When we returned to Makasutu, in The Gambia, West Africa, from our Short Walk in the Gambian Bush in December 2009, after 6 weeks in the bush, Florio took formal portraits of the expedition team, of course, our four-legged members: Neil and (p)Hadley, the donkeys.

Over those six weeks of walking, camping and eating together, day in and day out, each person on the team’s personality began to present itself – and nick-names were born. However, I have to say, in my own defense, that my ‘nick name’ is actually a term of endearment in The Gambia – hence, not to be taken too literally. However, I guess being a producer, perhaps it was a fitting nick name. Hey, someone had to organise those four guys!

Portraits:

#1- Helen (‘Boss Lady’) Jones – Co-expedition leader and photography producer

#2 – Jason (‘Mappin’ out The Gambia’) Florio – Co-expedition leader and photographer

#3 – Ablie (‘The Negotiator’) Janneh – security, negotiator and Mandinka language teacher

#4 – Samba (‘Silafando’) Leigh – cultural advisor. Silafando is a Mandinka word which translates as ‘a gift to you on behalf of my journey

#5 -Momadou (‘Jamtang!’) Bah – chief donkey handler (The Gambian Horse and Donkey Trust). ‘Jamtang’ is a Fula tribe greeting word.

The expedition team with Mr & Mrs Bah, The Gambia

The expedition team (minus Momadou, who took the photo) with the village chief and family of Balanghar Benthal , in between. The Gambia, West Africa 2009. Left: Janneh (‘The Negotiator’) and H (‘Boss Lady’) Right: Florio (‘Mappin’ The Gambia’) & Samba (‘Silafando’)

Once Florio had taken the formal portraits with his background cloth of the chiefs and elders, we’d often have photos of us all taken together with the various village chiefs and their families. And, as always, there would be a gaggle of village kids, vying to get into the frame!

We have hundreds of ‘on-the-road’ shots from the 930km walk we did on our last expedition in The Gambia – you can check some of these in the archives of the ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush‘ blog. And, you can bet that we’ll be taking just as many, if not more, on our next journey too: River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea Africa odyssey

As ever, thanks for stopping by

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:

Journal entry from our first expedition: Sleeping amongst the sacred stone circles – 3rd Dec 2009 – Kerr Batch, The Gambia. Distance walked to-date: 671.74km

Kerr Batch Stone Circles, The Gambia, West Africa

Children standing on the sacred stones, Kerr Batch Stone Circles, The Gambia, West Africa – image © Jason Florio 2009

The above image is also available in our ‘An Exchange’ section limited offer – starting at only $25/£16, you have the chance to acquire this image – to help raise funds for our ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea Africa odyssey’. Please see PDF for full range of images available for this limited offer. Names will be drawn out of the hat on 31st August 2012

Helen’s Journal Entry from ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’

Thursday 3rd December, 2009 – Kerr Batch-Chamen, The Gambia, West Africa.

Distance walked to-date: 671.74km:

This morning, the old chief, Samba Camera, has come to the stone circles – doddering along, propped up by his walking stick – which was actually a hiking stick, that a tourist had given to him. We set up the backdrop and Flo photograph’s the chief amongst the stones. He looks positively resplendent, in his vivid, purple granbubu, saffron undershirt, a red-check keffiyah, topped off with a white crochet hat. Afterwards, we all sit outside the museum building whilst Flo interviews Mr Camera about the history of the stones and the surrounding area. It seems our host is somewhat of a well-respected griot (storyteller) – the oral tradition of relaying historic stories, songs and poems, passed down through the generations.

Florio interviews the old chief, Samba Camera, of Kerr Batch (with the translation help of expedition team member, Samba Leigh), The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio 2009

Unfortunately, as we had heard repeatedly, throughout our journey, that true griots are becoming less in numbers, as the younger generation appear to have little interest in taking up the mantle of storytelling from their fathers or grandfathers. They seem to prefer to head for the Atlantic Coast and the tourist areas; or even much further afield.

H and campsite amongst the scared stones – said to be the burial grounds of kings – Kerr Batch Stone Circles, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Jason Florio 2009

Even though the old chief cannot not speak any English, it’s mesmerising to sit and listen to his guttural voice, as Samba translates. He is crouched low on his haunches – very agile for a man of his age – his face and hands, animated as he relays his stories. His grandchildren sit around, just as enrapt as we are. Perhaps, just maybe, not all of them will follow on the seeming trend to move towards the coast.’ from Helen’s forthcoming book ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – minty abanta!’

Boy hanging out – Kerr Batch Stone Circles, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Check out Florio’s award-winning portraits of village chiefs and elders ‘Silafando’ and more road-stories and journal entries, by Helen, from ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey

Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

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:

Award-winning Portraits of Gambian Village Chiefs and Elders by Jason Florio from: ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’ – the 2009 West Africa expedition

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

A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush - a 930km African odyssey – 2009

Here are just a few examples of Florio’s beautiful, formal, portraits of village chiefs and elders, which he took whilst on our 2009 West Africa expedition – ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey‘- using a black backdrop which he has been using for many years – which is actually an old blackout curtain that his grandmother used during the Second World War!

This series of portraits has since become an award-winning body of work, acquired by museums and has been solo exhibited. Florio call’s the series ‘Silafando‘ – a Mandinka word which translates as ‘a gift to you on behalf of my journey‘. Silafando is an age old tradition in Gambian culture – when meeting a village chief for the first time and asking to stay in their village, you present him/her with a handful of *kola nuts: a symbolic gift of friendship, and respect for their cultures and traditions.

‘Protocol dictates that the Alkalo has to welcome travelers and strangers, but only after the correct procedure is followed. This is what is known as ‘Silafando’ – which roughly translates as ‘a gift to you on behalf of my journey’ and involves presenting the village chief with a gift – traditionally, a handful of *kola nuts; bitter, walnut sized nuts. These nuts play an important roll in Gambian traditional culture and social life. Once the gift is given, the Alkalo shares them with his closest village elders. They break the nuts open and chew them. They are valued for their apparent pharmacological properties – acting as a natural stimulant and, allegedly, as an aphrodisiac.

“This is a very important mark of respect to the Alkalo and we must follow this protocol with every chief we wish to stay with…” Samba says, adamantly “…and once the gift is given, the Alkalo will inform all the villagers that we, the strangers, are to be welcomed, with respect.” He added that if any villagers were to disrespect us during our stay, then ‘shame’ would be brought upon that person and the rest of his family.’ from Helen’s forthcoming book ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – minty abanta!

L-R: Umbi Salla Touray (Alkalo’s mother) & Kanifana Touray (Alkalo’s sister-in-law), Balanghar Bental ,The Gambia, West Africa – Image © Jason Florio 2009

L-R: Salafo Bah - Holy man/Marbout & farmer and Penda Bah (wife of Salafo),

L-R: Salafo Bah – Holy man/Marbout & farmer and Penda Bah (wife of Salafo), Tuba Dabbo, The Gambia, West Africa – Image ©Jason Florio 2009

L-R: Samba Bah - cattle farmer & Yero Bah - cattle farmer, Tuba Dabbo The Gambia, West Africa

L-R: Samba Bah – cattle farmer & Yero Bah – cattle farmer, Tuba Dabbo
The Gambia, West Africa – Image © Jason Florio 2009

 

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 River Gambia Expedition 2012:

Formal portraits of the ‘Short Walk’ 2009 expedition team by Jason Florio

A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush team - 2009

The expedition team members from our 2009 journey: A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km Africa odyssey – images 1,3,5 & 5 © Jason Florio image 2 © Helen Jones-Florio

When we returned to Makasutu, in The Gambia, West Africa, from our Short Walk in the Gambian Bush in December 2009, after 6 weeks in the bush, Florio took formal portraits of the expedition team, of course, our four-legged members: Neil and (p)Hadley, the donkeys.

Over those six weeks of walking, camping and eating together, day in and day out, each person on the team’s personality began to present itself – and nick-names were born. However, I have to say, in my own defense, that my ‘nick name’ is actually a term of endearment in The Gambia – hence, not to be taken too literally. However, I guess being a producer, perhaps it was a fitting nick name. Hey, someone had to organise those four guys!

Portraits:

#1- Helen (‘Boss Lady’) Jones – Co-expedition leader and photography producer

#2 – Jason (‘Mappin’ out The Gambia’) Florio – Co-expedition leader and photographer

#3 – Ablie (‘The Negotiator’) Janneh – security, negotiator and Mandinka language teacher

#4 – Samba (‘Silafando’) Leigh – cultural advisor. Silafando is a Mandinka word which translates as ‘a gift to you on behalf of my journey

#5 -Momadou (‘Jamtang!’) Bah – chief donkey handler (The Gambian Horse and Donkey Trust). ‘Jamtang’ is a Fula tribe greeting word.

The expedition team with Mr & Mrs Bah, The Gambia

The expedition team (minus Momadou, who took the photo) with the village chief and family of Balanghar Benthal , in between. The Gambia, West Africa 2009. Left: Janneh (‘The Negotiator’) and H (‘Boss Lady’) Right: Florio (‘Mappin’ The Gambia’) & Samba (‘Silafando’)

Once Florio had taken the formal portraits with his background cloth of the chiefs and elders, we’d often have photos of us all taken together with the various village chiefs and their families. And, as always, there would be a gaggle of village kids, vying to get into the frame!

We have hundreds of ‘on-the-road’ shots from the 930km walk we did on our last expedition in The Gambia – you can check some of these in the archives of the ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush‘ blog. And, you can bet that we’ll be taking just as many, if not more, on our next journey too: River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea Africa odyssey

As ever, thanks for stopping by

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 River Gambia Expedition 2012:

Jason Florio’s Award-winning Portraits of Village Chiefs and Elders – Limited Edition Prints from the 2009 Expedition Donors

June 13th 2012

The series of portraits that Florio took on our 2009 expedition, of village chiefs/Alkalo’s and elders became an award-winning body of work and featured in Resource Magazine, cover of PDN (Photo District News) etc…

2010 NY Photo Festival, Honorary Mention – fine art/personal series

2010 Lucie’s/International Photography Awards – over all winner ‘People’ category

2010 Lucie’s/ International Photography Awards – 1st place ‘People : ‘Culture’

The portraits were also available for those donors, who donated for limited edition expedition prints in 2009, to make their choices from.

Limited Edition Expedition 2012 Prints: If you make a donation of $100/£65 or over, you will be offered a selection of fine art photography Limited Edition Prints to choose from, from the expedition – how much you donate will determine the size of print you will receive. Please see our ‘How to Donate’ page – the in’s and out’s.

'Silafando' © Jason FlorioL-R: Umbi Salla Touray (Alkalo’s mother) & Kanifana Touray (Alkalo’s sister-in-law)
Balanghar Bental, The Gambia, West Africa, 2009 © Jason Florio

'Silafando' © Jason Florio

Herouan Tonkara, with his horse, Suduwole, The Gambia, West Africa, 2009 © Jason Florio

'Silafando' © Jason FlorioL-R: Lamin Sanneh – Alkalo’s messenger & farmer and Demba Sanneh – farmer, Genieri
The Gambia, West Africa, 2009 © Jason Florio

PDN - Photo District News  - Cover ShotAlkalo Messaneh Cham,The Gambia West Africa

Please see Florio’s website for the series of portraits:

Thanks for jumping on board!

The Florios (H & Flo)

Links: http://resourcemagonline.com/

http://www.pdnonline.com/index.shtml

http://www.pdnonline.com/pdnedu/Business-Smarts-A-L-679.shtml Crowd Funding – including our 2009 expedition

http://lucieawards.com/

http://nyph.at/