Slideshow: behind the scenes of the River Gambia Expedition -1044km source to sea African odyssey

In early December, 2012 – mid-January, 2013, we followed the course of one of Africa’s last major free-flowing rivers – the River Gambia. Along the way, Jason documented the everyday life of those people who’s lives depend on the river.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 9.22.14 AM
Image © Jason Florio - gold miners in the River Gambia, Senegal


From the source of the of the river – in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea-Conakry, through the riverside goldmines of south west Senegal, on into The Republic of The Gambia itself, where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean – we had an incredible journey, discovering the regions that we passed through; including dodging hippos and hair raising moto-taxi rides with stoned bikers! Welcome to behind the scenes of our River Gambia travels…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We hope you enjoyed the ride. You may also like to check out our Floriotravels Youtube page, where you can see snippets of our journey in motion.

Updates coming soon on our pending travels, back down to West Africa

The Florios – Helen & Jason

Follow us twitter & Facebook

‘Musa with Rescued Patas Monkey’ – print donated to Critical Exposure fundraising auction

Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 9.42.42 AMScreen Shot 2014-09-19 at 9.42.50 AM

For the last couple of years we have been asked to donate prints to Critical Exposure – for their Picture Equality fundraising auction; to which we have readily agreed to. It’s such a good cause, which helps to raise thousands of dollars.

Critical Exposure teaches youth to use the power of photography and their own voices to become effective advocates for school reform and social change.’ About Critical Exposure

This year, Jason donated ‘Musa with Rescued Patas Monkey‘ – an image from his ‘River Gambia‘ body of work, which he took whilst we were on our ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘.

This is Critical Exposure’s 10th Anniversary and last year they raised over $30,000 for their programs, to help empower youth through the medium of photography – which falls in with the ethos of what we are endeavoring to achieve with our ‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language‘ workshops; we held the inaugural workshop in The Gambia, West Africa, earlier this year.

Please help spread the word, to make 2014’s auction an even bigger success – you can even bid for Jason’s print or for donated prints from other photographers, including Ed Kashi, Ami Vitale, and National Geographic.

More news on our travels and work coming soon.

The Florios – Helen & Jason

Helen Jones=Florio & Jason Florio
Helen Jones=Florio & Jason Florio



Incoming! Photoville 2014, NYC – a photo destination – exhibitions in shipping containers

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 10.40.37 AM
‘River Gambia’ exhibition – Photoville 2013


We are already missing being physically present at Photoville this year. The phenomenal Brooklyn based unique photo destination is, to date, one of the most enjoyable exhibitions we have ever done . We were astonished at the volume of people who passed through our exhibition shipping container doors over the course of PV 2013 – 1000’s of people, who may otherwise never have seen the body of work we exhibited.

We exhibited Jason’s images from our ‘River Gambia Expedition - 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ – thanks also to our partners, VQR) – along with a short film (from hours of footage we both shot on the route) about the River Gambia journey.

youtube river gambia
Youtube: ‘River Gambia’ © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio




'Silafando' The Gambia © Jason Florio
Above images © Jason Florio – ‘River Gambia’


Photoville, Pier 5, Brooklyn Bridge Park, September 18 – 28, 2014

Photoville has yet another stellar cast of photographers exhibiting at this years event – last years had over 50 shipping container exhibitions! – and a multitude of workshops and panel discussions, including:

La Frontera:With this long term project I document cultural activities in what used to be some of the worlds most dangerous cities along the US/Mexican border. Since 2008 I photographed 180 artists along the entire 2000 miles long divide to show the vibrant cultural side of a region that is usually portrayed by the international media with the sole focus on violent crime... .’ Stefan Falke

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 11.07.33 AM
Image © and courtesy of Stefan Falke – ‘La Frontera’


Personal Projects, Long Term Commitments - panel discussion with *Julie Grahame/aCurator & Stella Kramer/Stellazine: ‘Meet three photographers who are successfully executing personal projects. Marvi Lacar will talk about her project concerning mental illness, Andi Schreiber will talk about her series “Pretty, Please,” exploring middle-age in a youth-obsessed culture, and Catherine Chalmers looks at bugs, most recently working with leaf cutter ants in Costa Rica. They will present their work, discuss the long-term commitments involved and take questions afterwards.’

*Julie and Stella – a formidable duo – are  the best at what they do (individually and together). Therefore, if you need to book for this panel, book it now!

Iraqi Detainees – ordinary people, extraordinary ordeals – Chris Bartlett: ‘Beautiful and humanizing portraits of Iraqi former detainees who were arrested, tortured and released without charges in the first years of the war.’

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 11.30.59 AM
Image © and courtesy of  Chris Barlett – The Detainee Project


There are many, many more incredible exhibitions and talks in the PV 2014 program – we could list them all! However, why not click over to their website and check it out for yourself: Photoville Exhibitions. You can then click through to the various sections for the workshops, panels, and so on.

Although we have been enviously watching, from across the Atlantic,  the preparations unfold towards this years PV opening (Sept 18th), and although we can’t be there in person, we will be there – in spirit or should that be, print.  We were/are extremely flattered when the wonderfully energetic, organised, and truly inspiring PV team (especially founders: Sam, Laura, and Dave), asked us to exhibit the ‘River Gambia‘ images on the NY Waterway’s East River Ferry – as part of a series of exhibitions from various photographers. We believe our exhibition will run sometime in early October, for 3-4 weeks. We’ll keep you posted on that, as and when it happens.

horses river

Images © Jason Florio


Thanks Photoville guys – big love! And, to everyone involved in or going to this years event – have a blast and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy, be truly inspired, wander amongst 1000’s like-minded souls, and take in this exceptional view!

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 12.04.21 PM
Good morning Photoville! The view from our River Gambia exhibition shipping container – PV 2013. Image © Helen Jones-Florio


And… don’t forget your camera!

Covetously yours,

The Florios - Helen & Jason

The Florios, Photoville 2013 – image © Chris Bartlett



The History Boys – The Nile Explorers: Speke, Wood, Baker

Nile explorer decendents
L-R: Tom Mayberry, Peter Speke, Levison Wood, David Baker – image by Jason Florio

The Nile Explorers – Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institution (BRSLI), Bath, Somerset.

Yesterday (with huge thanks to writer, explorer, and photographer, Levison Wood) we Florios were honored to be in the midst of such esteemed – and truly inspirational – company to commemorate the 150 year anniversary of an encounter between (Nile explorers) Captains Sir Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke, in the Royal Mineral Water Hospital, Bath, 15th September, 1864.


Over the space of a few (all too) short hours, we sat and listened to superb narrative – facts and anecdotes, richly woven together – from, amongst others, descendents of the above mentioned (who themselves have gone on to become 21st Century African explorers in their own right), highly acclaimed explorers of the 19th Century.

Levison Wood talks about ‘Walking the Nile’ – image by Jason Florio

We also got a chance to listen to Levison Wood, give a synopsis of  ‘Walking the Nile‘ – he very recently completed an astonishing 3750 miles walk of the length of the mighty river. It was all too brief… I’m certain Lev could have easily filled the whole afternoon, regaling the audience with tales (and great images) about his incredible journey. Alas, we will have to wait until 2015, when the documentary series of his epic walk is aired on C4.

The Royal Hotel, Bath – where Captain Sir Richard Burton laid his head, in preparation for the much publicized reunion with John Hanning Speke. Image © Jason Florio

Yesterday’s vicarious immersion into great explorers, past and present, has our adventure juices well and truly whetted.

Thanks again to Lev Wood  and to Jane Sparrow, BRLSI Geography & Adventure Group, for extending the invite.

As for our humble foray into the world of exploration, you may like to check out ‘River Gambia Expedition-1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ and ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey‘.

Now, where will our next adventure take us? Watch this space…

The Florios – Helen & Jason

Jason Florio, Levison Wood, Matthew Power (R.I.P.) – Uganda, East Africa, 2014. Image by Boston (Woka) Beka

In remembrance of Matthew Power:  In March this year – whilst Lev was walking through Uganda – Jason, along with our friend and writer, Matthew Power, joined him for what would transpire to be a truly tragic few days.

Matt, you are missed… x H&J

River Gambia… photo stories

The River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey

Tales from a mighty West African river…

'River Gambia' the source, Fouta Djallon Highlands - VQR Magazine  © Jason Florio
River Gambia‘ the source, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry – VQR Magazine © Jason Florio


Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 8.49.40 AM
Image © Jason Florio
Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 8.47.26 AM
The shot… Jason Florio at work. Image © Helen Jones-Florio


Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 9.02.02 AM
HJF, Ebou & Abdou at work! River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio


Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 8.57.27 AM
Florio at work – River Gambia, Kuntaur, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio


Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 9.18.21 AM
Samba Fishing © Jason Florio River Gambia, Kuntaur, The Gambia, West Africa


Geographical Magazine - Image © Jason Florio


'River Gambia' The Gambia © Jason Florio
Boy with Mask © Jason Florio


To read (and see) more about our River Gambia journey, please visit

The Florios - Helen & Jason

H & Flo - we did it!
Mission accomplished! The Gambia, January 2013

9/11 – Remembering

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 8.49.12 AM
Image © Jason Florio – 9/11, NYC

Rewind to: 11th Sept 2001 – I remember being on the #52 bus on the way home, from Nottinghill Gate to Kensal Rise, in London,UK, when I received a phone call from a friend to tell me the staggering news of what was unfolding in New York City – the first tower had just gone down. Little did we know as we watched the news back to back well into the night – until a mutual friend told us the next day – that Jason had been down at the World Trade Center as the towers fell. Thankfully, he is still around to tell the story. His recounting of the hours he spent down there, and seeing his photos, still make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Some years later…

… Jason and I  walked out of our apartment building, off 6th Avenue, NYC, and retraced his route downtown… following the exact path he took, as he ran towards the World Trade Center (as most people were running away from it) on a truly tragic, seminal, day: September 11th, 2001.

Jason photographed, ‘9/11 Redux‘, the same locations that he had shot on ‘9/11/2001‘ – a confluence of two contrasting periods in time… yet, not altogether dissimilar…

All images © Jason Florio

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 9.39.14 AMScreen Shot 2014-09-11 at 9.40.07 AM

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 9.12.42 AMScreen Shot 2014-09-11 at 9.10.01 AM

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 9.14.08 AMScreen Shot 2014-09-11 at 9.13.55 AM

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 10.03.43 AM

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 10.10.46 AM
2012: Patricia Mack with Jason and the photograph he took of her on 9/11 outside Trinity Church, Broadway, NYC – Image by Neville Elder


June 2012: ‘Captain Patricia (Patty) Mack – pictured above – is a retired New York Courts Officer. In 2001, her being a first sponsor – along with her husband Tim – comes with special meaning. I photographed her on September 11th 2001, just a few minutes after she appeared from the rubble of the collapse of the World Trade Center’s south tower. We had not communicated since that life changing time, but we were recently re-acquainted when she kindly agreed to be in the documentary I have been working on with my colleague, Neville Elder about our experiences photographing that tragic dayJason Florio - See more on Vimeo: ‘Return to Ground Zero’ (currently in post-production).

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 10.43.16 AM
Vimeo: ‘Return to Ground Zero‘ – click here to view (image ©Jason Florio)


Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 12.09.12 PMScreen Shot 2014-09-11 at 12.08.34 PM

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

To view then and now: ‘New York City 09.11.2001‘ & ‘9.11 Redux

In remembrance to all those who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001.

Jason & Helen Florio

He walked the length of the River Nile! Congratulations to Levison Wood

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 10.19.12 AM
Images © Jason Florio, 2014

Earlier in March, along with friend and writer, Matthew Power (we miss you dearly, Matt), Jason spent a few days with Levison Wood on the Uganda section of his historic walk.

Now, explorer, Lev, has just completed his incredible journey. The first person to walk almost the entire length of the River Nile, in Africa, from it’s source to the sea – fighting in South Sudan meant he had to abandon a 450-mile section. But still, come on, credit where credit is due…he covered a whopping 3750miles! When Jason and I made a mere 930km walk around The Gambia, in 2009, we met people along the way who frequently announced that ‘your donkeys will be dead in two days!‘ and/or ‘it is not possible for someone to walk that far‘! We can’t wait to hear what incredulous comments Lev would most definitely have heard along the way.



Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 10.57.56 AM
L-R: Jason Florio, Levison Wood, Matthew Power (R.I.P.) – Uganda, March 2014


We are looking forward the forthcoming documentary about the journey. In the meantime, you can read all about Lev’s epic adventure here: ‘Walking the Nile‘.

The Florios – Helen & Jason

Image © Jason Florio- taken whilst on our ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey’

Perpignen – ‘Visa pour l’image’ – here we come!

Bonjour, ça va?

Tomorrow, we head down deep into southern France, the Languedoc-Roussillon region,  for our first foray into what is the 26th year of   ‘Visa pour l’image’ –  ‘…the premier International Festival of Photojournalism held in Perpignan, France. This festival is a unique event where you can join thousands of kindred spirits who share a love and passion for photography. View the greatest photojournalist work from around the world in exhibitions across the city… . ‘ Nous sommes trés excité!

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 12.34.38 PM


We have our new calling cards, printed and ready to hand out…

‘Small Devil’ The Gambia © Jason Florio – one of series of a new project about traditional West African masquerades.


‘Raft Boys’ River Gambia, Senegal © Jason Florio – taken whilst in the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey


Peut-être nous vous y voir?

à bien tôt!

The Florios – Helen et Jason


Photos Tell Stories – an anthology, Part 2 – photographs by Jason Florio

Jason Florio’s images – taken over a 15 year period – as part of a slideshow he was invited to present about his work at Athens Photo Festival, Greece, 2013 (APhf:15).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


All images © Jason Florio

Image# 22-23 – ‘Mogadishu-148 hours‘ Somalia,  2011

Image# 24-27 – ‘Makasutu‘ The Gambia, 1997-2008

Image# 28 – 32 – ‘Silafando‘ The Gambia, 2009

Image# 33 – 41 – ‘River Gambia‘ West Africa, 2012-13

Check out Part 1 of an anthology (images 1-21) here.

The stories behind Jason’s ‘Silafando‘ and ‘River Gambia‘ images can be found on our other blogs: ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey‘ 2009, and ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ 2012-13.

More news coming soon.

The Florios – Helen & Jason

A Short Walk in The Gambian Bush
Jason & Helen selfie! ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush‘ 2009

Youtube: Forest Festival, Koudioubé village, Senegal, West Africa

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 8.45.16 AM
Videography: Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio for Concern Universal, The Gambia & Senegal, West Africa – click image or here to view


Earlier this year, we traveled a short distance across the border,  south of The Gambia (where we have been based for the last 8-9 months),  into the Casamance region of Senegal – on assignment for a local NGO, Concern Universal, who we have  worked with on previous projects.  The purpose of this assignment was to document a celebratory forest festival in the village of Koudioubé – a juddering, hold-onto-anything-fixed-down and mind-your-head-whilst-you’re-at-it,  20 minute drive on a deeply rutted ‘road’ (which, we were told by the driver, is often  impassible during a heavy rainy season) through the bush, from the small town of Diouloulou.

Woman collects dead wood only (no trees are cut down for this purpose) in the protected forest area of Koudioubé – image © Jason Florio


What the villagers have achieved – in a region where, for 30 years, communities have been broken apart by civil war, and forests have been decimated – is truly uplifting…

‘Local orginazation, ASIPID, a partner of Concern Universal, came up with the idea to the peace and save the remaining forests… .

The Koudioubé Community Forest – managed by four communities, was the first to be protected. It’s regeneration has been a source of celebration for the community. Then this grew to 8 more communities, who have set up community forests. Now many more want to follow...’ (read more on the video) – CU, The Gambia & Senegal.

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 9.37.06 AM
‘The Agomalah’ – traditional masquerade – comes to the Koudioubé Forest Festival. Image © Jason Florio


To find out more about traditional masquerades (as pictured above) in West Africa, you may like to read about our new multimedia project, on this very subject – which we will continue to  work on when we return to West Africa –  here.

Coming next, Part 2 of ‘An anthology – photographs by Jason Florio

The Florios - Helen & Jason


photography workshops, travel, and more…


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,063 other followers

%d bloggers like this: