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Please check out ‘Photos Tell Stories’ for all updates about what The Florios (Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio) are up to: new projects, photography workshops, our travels, and more…

Read on for the story about the ‘River Gambia Expedition‘ – completed in January 2013

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Virginia Quarterly Review – ‘Life on the River Gambia’ Spring 2013 – image © Jason Florio

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Boy with pet monkey - River Gambia © Jason Florio

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Sidetracked Magazine – feature on the ‘River Gambia’ – images © Jason Florio

Other links you may find interesting – about our West African 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

PRESS : ONE – join the fight against extreme poverty ‘An Expedition Down the River Gambia’

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The source of the River Gambia, Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, West Africa. Image © Jason Florio ‘River Gambia’

Communities along its length rely on it for their very existence, and with plans afoot to dam the river, we wanted to create a modern day account of the people who live and work along it’s banks before construction begins and their lives change.” Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio ‘River Gambia Expedition-1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ 

read more on ‘ONE - join the fight against extreme poverty’

ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organization of 3.5 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa… because the facts show extreme poverty has already been cut in half and can be virtually eliminated by 2030, but only if we act with urgency now.

Cofounded by Bono and strictly nonpartisan, we raise public awareness and work with political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs. ONE also works closely with African activists and policymakers as they fight corruption, promote poverty-fighting priorities, monitor the use of aid, and help build civil society and free enterprise‘.

Images taken whilst on the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey’ with Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio

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Young boys pose for a portrait on the banks of River Gambia in Senegal. They said they had painted their faces like skulls and their chests with soccer team numbers for their own amusement. Image © Jason Florio

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The son of Bakary Dabo, the Alkalo (village chief) of Diagabu Tenda, The Gambia wearing a ‘fur’ coat on a cool morning. Image © Jason Florio

 

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

Female rice harvesters, Kaur, The Gambia – ‘River Gambia’ mages by Jason Florio

Members of the Santa Yalla kaffo (group) take a moment between harvesting rice from fields irrigated by the River Gambia. They are paid thirty Gambian Dalasis a day (80 US cents). Taken whilst on the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea Africa odyssey

Footage from the journey © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio : Youtube

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Click here or on the image to go to Youtube

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’

 

 

Scenes from the banks of the River Gambia – BBC ‘News in Pictures’

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Oyster collectors: Migrant workers from Guinea-Bissau collecting oysters along the shores of a tributary of the River Gambia © Jason Florio

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Senegalese Children from the Toucouleur tribe © Jason Florio

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A Senegalese family from the Toucouleur tribe at their seasonal fishing camp at Carrolls Wharf in The Gambia © Jason Florio

Just a few of the images that picture editor, Phil Coomes – BBC News in Pictures - chose for his recent feature about our ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea African odyssey‘. As we traveled along the River Gambia, from its source in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, to the where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean, in The Gambia,  Florio documented the people we met along the way – all of whom rely on the River Gambia, in one form or another.

For an update of what we are working on at the moment (Aug 2013), please check out this link

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Boy with his pet monkey – River Gambia, West Africa – new images by Jason Florio

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Musa Djallow with his pet Patas red monkey. The mother had been hunted and killed for bush meat and Musa rescued the orphaned baby © Jason Florio

Random photo of the day: Musa Djallow with his pet monkey on the banks of the River Gambia, Fata Kunda, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

Please visit the website for more images from Jason Florio’s new series – ‘River Gambia’ – floriophoto.com

Coming up next on the blog – the River Gambia Expedition journey continues…making our two Ally 811 canoes – ‘The Twins’ – into the ‘Ally Cat’

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Helen & Florio – River Gambia, Gambia, West Africa – ‘The Twins’ become the ‘Ally Cat’

We loved using the Ally 811 Canoes – BIG thanks to all at Tamarack Outdoors, UK, for getting us a great deal on them.

 

Photography by Jason Florio: Oyster collectors, River Gambia, The Gambia, West Africa

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Random photo of the day - Female migrants from Guinea Bissau work along the shores of a tributary of River Gambia, in The Gambia, collecting oysters that hang from the mangroves. – Image © Jason Florio

From the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea African odyssey’

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