Photoville, 2013, opens today – Thurs 19th Sept! We have a couple of people to thank for getting Jason Florio’s ‘River Gambia’ images up there


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VQR Spring 2013 opening page_72dpiBig thanks to Virginia Quarterly Review for their support in helping us to exhibit Jason Florio’sRiver Gambia’ images at this years Photoville, Brooklyn, NY. Florio has been a contributor of the multi award-winning journal for a number of years – and, he was awarded :

VQR Prize for Photography
Jason Florio for three pieces:
“Facing Mogadishu” (Winter 2012)
“A Violent Prone, Poor People Zone” (Winter 2012)
“The Black Zone” (Summer 2012)

We were thrilled when we returned from the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘, and VQR approached us about featuring Florio’s images from the journey – in their Spring 2013 edition – pages upon pages of photographs, bringing our journey back to life, in full color : ‘Life on the River Gambia‘ . If you can make it to Photoville, we will have copies of the VQR Spring 2013 edition, plus more, on sale and VQR will be offering a special deal on subscriptions for the duration of Photoville (19-29th Sept).

Pascal.printScreen Shot 2013-09-10 at 11.49.31 AMBig thanks also goes to Pascal Prince of ‘A Small Light Room‘, NYC, for providing us with a large format ‘Ebrima in Fur‘ – just one of Florio’s prints we’ll exhibiting – the little chap (Ebrima, that is) will be at the door of our shipping container, to welcome you, ‘niambara, nimbara!’, into our pop up gallery. Just as he welcomed us to his village of Diagabou. Pascal, former employee of Richard Avedon, has been the master printer, and re-toucher, of our large format prints for many years. Check him out!

We will also have some very special Photoville-only deals on offer – a selection of Florio’s prints from the River Gambia series and more…but, you’ll just have to come on down to check those out. However, we’ll give you a clue as to what we may well have on the table…


‘Boy in the Mask’ © Jason Florio

Last but definitely not least: Thank you to Photovillers – Laura, Sam, Dave, and all who are making this phenomenal event happen!

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See you at Photoville, Brooklyn, NY, later!  Directions here You can’t miss us – we’re in container number 42 – next to the beer garden! 19-29 September.

The Florios (H & Flo)

NEW PRESS – just in time for Photoville (thanks, Julie Grahame / aCurator!)

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Strength – a woman’s work…River Gambia, Kedougou, Senegal


Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio

Random photos of the day: A woman returns from her daily work of washing laundry and utensils in the River Gambia, Kedougou, Senegal, West Africa.

When we returned to Kedougou – after paying homage to the source of the River Gambia in the Fouta Djallon Hghlands of Guinea – we spent a few days preparing ‘The Twins’ (our two Ally 811 canoes), ready to get them into the River. This also entailed going down to various sections of the River Gambia to find out where would be the best place for us to embark, with the canoes, on the next phase of the River Gambia Expedition.

It was near to the Relais de Kedougou hotel that we saw many of the local women washing clothes, pots, pans, and rice, in the river each day – in fact, it’s a common sight along the entire length of the the river, up until when the water becomes too salty (as it nears it’s end, in the Atlantic Ocean, The Gambia). The river bank was particularly steep by the Relais and the woman would hoist up the heavy loads, onto their heads, as if the large plastic buckets contained nothing other than the feathers of a fattened guinea fowl!

Despite many, many years of traveling to Africa, I will continue be amazed by how much women, and young girls, carry loads with such apparent ease.


Ferry crossing on The River Gambia, Kedougou, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio

For an update on what we are working on right now (i.e. the book!) – July 2013 – please click here

Archive: the Muslim celebration of Tobaski, The Gambia, West Africa

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‘Dinner’ – goat getting fattened up for the ritual slaughter, Kartong village, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

We’re researching our archives for our forthcoming book about the River Gambia Expedition and came across this, from a blog post early on into the journey – in fact, it was taken not long after we arrived in West Africa, pre-planning for the expedition.
It was taken during on the day of the annual Muslim celebration, Tobaski (or Eid al Adha)- a huge celebration, whereby thousands of goats, sheep (and cows, if the family/community can afford it) are ritually slaughtered.

For an update about the journey (as of today) please check out our blog post here

Jason Florio – ‘River Gambia’ – new series of images

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© Jason Florio

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© Jason Florio

To view more of Jason Florio’s new series of images – ‘River Gambia’ – taken whilst on the ‘River Gambia Expedition-1000km source-sea African odyssey‘ please visit the website: florio

‘The Twins’ (Ally 811 canoes) become ‘The Ally Cat’ – River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa

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‘The Twins’ are in the River Gambia!. Image by Henk Eshuis L-R: Florio, helen, Abdou, Ebou and Yousef – The day we got the canoes into the water in Kedougou, Senegal

‘The Twins’ become ‘The Ally Cat’

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‘The Ally Cat’, River Gambia at Gulumbu, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio

December 27th, 2012 – Njuen-Gulumbu-Genoto, Senegal – Distance paddled to-date: 245.41km

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Florio at work: People we meet along the river bank – fisherman repairing his nets, River Gambia, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio

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The cattle come to water and a fisherman repairs his nets on the banks of the River Gambia, Senegal © Jason Florio

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Helen, Ebou & Abdou – passing a potential hippo beach © Jason Florio

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Watching me, watching you, watching me…curious baboons, Senegal © Jason Florio

The conversion of ‘The Twins’ begins – Gulumbu, Senegal

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Florio: “is this going to work?” converting the Ally 811 canoes, Gouloumbou, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio

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Ebou fixes the fame work for the sail – Gouloumbou, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio

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Test run for ‘The Ally Cat’ – River Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

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Night hawkers – Gouloumbou bus depot, Trans Gambia Highway, Senegal © Jason Florio

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Night hawkers – Gouloumbou bus depot, Trans Gambia Highway,  Senegal © Jason Florio

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Woman silhouetted by the fire, Gouloumbou, Senegal © Jason Florio

And we’re off! Helen films the inaugural voyage of ‘The Ally Cat’

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So far so good! Helen films ‘The Ally Cat’s’ inaugural voyage © Jason Florio

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Pit stop – River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio

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Florio records the sights and sounds along the River Gambia, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio

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Meeting more people along the way – local ferry man, River Gambia, Senegal © Jason Florio

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Camping in Genoto, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio

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The watchman brings us a gift (Silfando) of groundnuts,  Genoto, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio

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Next morning – back on the river, Genoto, Senegal © Jason Florio

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The watchman comes to bid us ‘au revoir’ , Genoto, Senegal © Jason Florio

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Florio at work: Ferry boy, River Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

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Ferry boy on the River Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

More river photo stories to come soon…as our River Gambia Expedition continues into 2013

Thanks as always for stopping by

The Florios

Next up: crossing the ‘border’ into The Gambia – without even realising it!

P.S. if you are in NYC next Tuesday 14th May, we are presenting a slideshow of our River Gambia journey at Foto Care. Please click on this link for all the details

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Photographer, Jason Florio: Boys with painted faces, River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa

Random photo of the day: December 2012 – we came across these boys on one of our first days, in the canoes, on the River Gambia Expedition, in Senegal. I spied them through my binoculars – I was on hippo watch – from a distance. And, at first, I thought they had masks on. I remember turning around to Florio, who was paddling behind me in the canoe, saying excitedly “there are boys up there, on the river bank, and I think they are wearing some kind of masks…almost like Halloween!” As we neared, we realised the masks were actually some kind of paint – or more likely crushed oyster-shell powder. We asked them why they had painted their faces and bodies and what did the numbers mean? They shrugged and giggled ‘we are only playing’ translated our Mandinka speaking team mate, Ebou. And then they promptly jumped in the river – not before Florio got a couple of shots of them though – and washed it all off. Had we arrived a moment or two later, we would have missed this rather wondrous spectacle.

‘River Gambia’ Jason Florio’s new series of images from the journey

Update: We dodged the angry hippo and made it to Mako – and it’s time to say ‘fonyato domanding’ to our hippo expert

‘Fonyato domanding’ – a West Africa mandinka phrase – roughly translates as: ‘see you next time

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Hippo encounter, of the very close up kind, en route to Mako. Film footage © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio. Click the image or here to view

Friday 21st December 2012 – Bantaco – Mako. Total paddling distance to-date: 105.73km  River Gambia Expedition

We left the main gold mines behind this morning and headed towards the small ‘urban’ town of Mako, centered around an arterial road, on one of the main highways in Senegal – the Trans Gambia Highway. We’d stopped in Mako, for a cold drink, on our way to Labé, just under a month ago – which, at times, often feels much more like two months, considering what we’ve squeezed into our journey so far.


Gold mines – Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio

Whilst paddling, on route to Mako, we had a too-close-for-comfort encounter with a rather mammoth mammal – and a very pissed-off one at that: a hippo. After waiting on the rocks for over an hour – for the hippo to let us pass – and then hugging the river bank, paddling ‘donding, donding’ (slowly, slowly), we made it to Mako – and the safety of hippo-free terra firma. For the time being, at least.

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H and the team: arrival at Mako – River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio

After scouting around, a local man kindly offered us the ground just outside his compound, to make our campsite for the night. It was right near to the riverbank, with an epically tantalizing view of Niokolo Koba National Park - frustratingly, after months of trying, we still hadn’t been given the go-ahead by the park director to paddle our canoes through the park. So, tomorrow morning, after packing our two Ally 811 canoes into their backpacks, we would be taking local transport for 134km’s to Wassadou – where we planned to spend Christmas and a couple of days of much-needed rest.

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Mako – market (lumo) area, Senegal, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

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A woman’s work is never done. H packs the Ally 811 canoes, Mako © Jason Florio

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Florio interviews Yousef – banks of the River Gambia, Mako, Senegal, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio


Yousef with his fishing net – River Gambia, Mako, Senegal © Jason Florio


Yousef – Mako, Senegal © Jason Florio

Ebou and Florio - Mako, Senegal, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

Ebou and Florio – Mako, Senegal, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio



Dusk – The view of Niokolo Koba National Park, River Gambia, Mako © Jason Florio


Saturday 22nd December 2012 – preparing to leave Mako

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Dawn – The River Gambia, Mako, Senegal © Jason Florio

First things first – get the Kelly Kettle on!

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Abdou and H – watching water boil, Mako, Senegal © Jason Florio

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Florio oversee’s the packing of the Sept Place - Mako © Helen Jones-Florio

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A nod to DPx Gear and Come Back Alive – one of our sponsors © Helen Jones-Florio

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© Helen Jones-Florio

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Team photo! L-R: Abdou, Florio, Yousef, Ebou (behind) and H – River Gambia, Mako, Senegal

Today we sadly and reluctantly say ‘fonyato’  – or au revoir – to Yousef. As much as we tried to persuade him to carry onto Banjul, The Gambia, with us he needed to get back to his wife and family in Kedougou. Yousef has not only caught fish for us along the way but he’s given us all a crash course in how to deal with hippos – catapults and posturing aside! – which, had we not happened open him a week ago in Kedougou (another of the many serendipitous moments we have had and will continue to have on this journey), we feel sure we may have quite possibly ended up in the River Gambia, manically swimming for shore and for our lives, after being rammed and capsized by a pissed off hippo! However, even he took a chance or two along the way, all in the name of saving a water container

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Yousef and his ‘rescued’ water container, Mako © Jason Florio

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Catapult boy – he must be a friend of Yousef’s -  Mako © Jason Florio

And, it’s goodbye to the River Gambia, for the next few days. We’ll miss you -but not the hippos!

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River Gambia – not a hippo in sight © Jason Florio

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Florio – Mako © Helen Jones-Florio

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H & Yousef – Mako – screen grab from film footage © Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio

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Fonyato domanding, Yousef! © Jason Florio

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Yousef gets his transport home – Mako © Jason Florio

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We’re on our way to Wassadou – Leaving Mako © Helen Jones-Florio

And so, we move onto the next stage of our journey. This time, we head up the road towards Wassadou. Most of the route is through the Niokolo Koba National Park – so at least we get to see it – just not, unfortunately, from our canoes. The plan is to spend Christmas in Wassadou – there is a lodge there that we read about – however, best laid plans and all…

More on that coming soon.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by. We hope you are enjoying the journey – as much as we are, reliving it.

The Florios (H & Flo)

Next up: Merry *&%$##* Christmas!!


Hunters – washing in the River Gambia, Senegal © Jason Florio

To see more of Jason Florio’s series of images – ‘River Gambia’ – from the expedition, please visit


Photographer Jason Florio’s prints for our donors – taken whilst on the River Gambia Expedition – are almost ready to ship!


Prints for donors

Sunday 14th April, 2013

We’ve spent the last few days packing, packing and…more packing – using lots of recycled cardboard too, thanks to Hakim and the guys at Waverly Wines, 6th Ave, NYC! Prints incoming to all those who donated over $100 for the River Gambia Expedition  – plus postcards for everyone – to our ‘An Exchange’ and ‘Kickstarter’ campaigns last year.


‘Boy in Fur’ © Jason Florio – River Gambia

Further tales from the River Gambia coming soon – once we get all the prints shipped out!

Thanks for stopping by

The Florios (H & Flo)

Photographer, Jason Florio: the source of the River Gambia, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry, West Africa


The source of the River Gambia, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry, West Africa © Jason Florio

Random photo of the day: ‘The source of the River Gambia is surrounded – protected – by a low, red stone, wall. We entered through a tiny gap in the wall, into a copse of trees – Florio and I going first. We needed time to savour this momentous occasion. We had, after all, been planning this together for many months…’ read and see more here

River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea African odyssey

Photographer, Jason Florio: Imam’s wife and granddaughter – Hore Dimma, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry


The Imam’s wife and granddaughter – Hore Dimma village, Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea © Jason Florio

Random photo of the day: early on in our journey, the River Gambia Expedition , we had traveled on local transport for 23 bone-juddering hours from Kedougou, Senegal, over the rockiest of roads to the village of Horé Dimma, to pay homage to the source of the River Gambia – the true beginning of a journey which would take us, by road and river, over 1100km’s through the Fouta Djallon Highlands, into Senegal, and then on to The Republic of The Gambia, to the Atlantic Ocean.

Florio had just finished photographing one of the village imam’s – Horé Dimma is a sprawling place with more than one mosque – when we noticed his wife sitting nearby, quietly watching us, in her pristine wrap. And, there, next to her, is who we believe to be her granddaughter who, in complete contrast, looked as if she had quite likely been running around with her friends in the surrounding dusty hills of the Fouta Djallon.

More river stories and images to come very shortly

The Florio’s – H & Flo

If you would like to view more from Jason Florio’s latest body of work, ‘River Gambia’, please visit his website


‘Boy in Fur Coat’ The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio