West Africa – a sneak peek at personal photography and film projects: traditional masquerades and Togolese artists

After Jason and I finished our inaugural ‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language‘ photography workshops, in Gambia, West Africa – the culmination of which was an exhibition of the young Gambian students work at Alliance Française – we began to look around for new photography projects in the region.

Both of us have always been fascinated by the traditional Gambian ‘masquerades’ – after having seen many over the years, throughout the country and in neighboring Senegal – dynamic, wonderfully mysterious, and sometimes down right dark and scary!

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Image © Jason Forio – the ‘Asamayo’ or ‘Agomalah’ for NGO Concern Universal - Forest festival, Koudioubé, in the Casamance, Senegal

 

Whether it be a circumcision ceremony, celebrating a successful harvest, chasing away evil spirits, enforcing village rules, or simply for entertainment, masquerades play a central and significant role in many parts of West African society.

Before we left The Gambia last month –  a short hiatus to spend time with family – we began to work on the masquerade project…

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Image © Jason Florio - ‘Little Devil’ a sneak peak at one of the masquerades, Kembujeh village, The Gambia, West Africa

 

We’re also working closely with the Gambia National Centre for  Arts and Culture – to produce a series of masquerade portraits for an exhibition in the near future. There is an abundance of masquerades – from the ‘Cumpo‘, ‘Kankurang‘, ‘The Hunter‘, ‘Agomalah’, to the stilted ‘Monpara‘. We look forward to exploring these more fully, when we return to West Africa in the coming months – delving deep into the origins and traditions of each one we meet; to create a photographic anthropology of the traditional masquerade

 

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Image © Jason Florio – Amigoe at home, surrounded by his paintings.

 

On the opening night of the Photos Tell Stories exhibition, we were very fortunate to be introduced to highly accomplished Togolese artist, Amigoe Dieudonné . During further meetings, Amigoe – an articulate, charismatic man – began to tell us the compelling story of his life, since leaving his Togolese home and family at 19 years old, living as a disabled artist, in various countries in West Africa. And, how his travels have shaped the very distinctive art he produces today.

We began to film and photograph Amigoe – again, shortly before we left The Gambia – who invited us into to his home and studio, to fully share with us the rich and vibrant tapestry of his life. We look forward to continuing this story too, when we return.

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Image © Jason Florio - Amigoe at work in his studio, The Gambia, West Africa

 

If you would like to receive updates, simply add your email address to the box in the left hand column of this page – you may also like to check what we are up to on FB, twitter, and Instagram

We would like to extend our thoughts to all those, in West Africa, who have been affected by the recent Ebola crisis, and we pray that it does not spread further.

More news soon…

The Florios – Helen & Jason

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Helen & Jason – opening night of the Photos Tell Stories exhibition – Gambia TV & Radio (about 47 seconds in!) – click image to view footage

Instagram – Floriotravels – West Africa and more…

Along with updates we post on here, we’ll be adding our travel photos to our new Instagram page: floriotravels  – featuring photos from Jason Florio and myself  whether they be work, play, or simply day-to-day life scenes that capture our imagination. Please feel free to ‘follow

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At the moment, we are having a short hiatus from West Africa – a few thousand miles north, in the UK, visiting family and friends – recharging our batteries, ready to head back down there in a few weeks time. However, we sorely miss strolls on the beach…

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image © Jason FlorioChinese fishing boat, Ghana Town beach, The Gambia, West Africa

 

Walking the dogs at dawn on deserted beaches…

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Image © Jason Florio – ‘White Tip’ Cape Point, The Gambia, West Africa

 

And, we particularly look forward to going back to work in the field…

whether it be ‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language‘…

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Photography workshop students receive their Photos Tell Stories ‘Certificates of Attendance’ – Kembujeh village, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

 

Or on assignment…

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Image © Helen Jones-Florio – on assignment with Jason Florio for NGO Concern Universal in Casamance, Senegal

 

If you would like to receive the odd updates from us, then just add your email address to the box in the lefthand column.

More news coming soon.

The Florios – Helen & Jason

Photography assignments in West Africa – what the Florios have been up to lately

Since completely the inaugural ‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language‘ workshops, in The Gambia, West Africa, Jason Florio and I have worked on a number of diverse assignments, here in West Africa –  a couple of them together,  just over the border into the Casamance, Southern Senegal, for NGO Concern Universal, and then north over the border into Senegal for the New York Times, covering a story about a football academy (conveniently timely!). Jason then flew off to Sierra Leone, to shoot a story about ethical diamond mining for ‘Oprah‘ Magazine; and he recently returned from Turkey and Spain, where he was on assignment for PepsiCo, about agriculture (yet to be published).

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Image © Jason Florio

 

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Image © Jason Florio

 

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Image © Jason Florio

 

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Image © Jason Florio

 

We had a beautifully laid out feature in Sidetracked Magazine – all about our ‘River Gambia Expedition -1044km source-sea African odyssey

Camped on the rock, post potential-mutiny, I was now self-medicating with palm-wine, and concluded it was a fine lubricant to complement the bowl of noodles and some mystery meat a young local Bassari boy brought to us. I would like to say, that huddled around a bowl of possible monkey meet on such a Christian holy day...’  words and images by Jason Florio. Please click on the image below to read the whole story.

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Sidetracked Magazine - Images © Jason Florio

 

We’ll be updating again soon…with more Photos Tell Stories news of what we are up to. In the meantime, you might like to check out our FB page, twitter, and Instagram, for photos and news.

The Florios - Helen & Jason

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Helen Jones-Florio & Jason Florio

 

 

Press: ‘US photographers hold photo exhibition’ – Daily Observer, The Gambia, West Africa

 

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To read the full article, please click here or on the above image

Great to see a review of the Photos Tells Stories exhibition in Gambia’s Daily Observer newspaper. It’s just a shame that they didn’t use any of our Gambian students images, which we sent to them.

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However, you can see them by reading on through the blog or clicking on the various menu links in the header – i.e. ‘Photos Tell Stories Students Work‘. See more press here.

We were also thrilled to see the feature about our ‘River Gambia Expedition‘ in Sidetracked Magazine – with a beautiful layout of Jason Florio’s images from the journey

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Image © Jason Florio

 

Photos Tell Stories – through the lens: Africa by Africans

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We arrived in The Gambia, West Africa, early December, 2013, by invitation from the US Embassy, Banjul, to teach a series of photography workshop – ‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language‘. Our aim was to show young Gambian students, between the ages of 13-20 years old, how to see their ‘home‘ – the villages and towns which they live – through the eye of a camera. And, more importantly, to show us – as guests on their home turf – how they viewed their environment and how they wanted it to be portrayed.

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Jason Florio - photographer and workshop tutor – YMCA, Fajara, The Gambia, West Africa

After a morning in the classroom, where Jason took them through the history of photography – showing the work of renowned international photographers, past and present – and various techniques, we gave them the cameras and sent them out, to photograph. Most of the students had never used a camera, other than perhaps snapshots with their phones.

The workshops culminated in a very successful exhibition opening at Alliance Française, in May, in The Gambia – where around 200 people, including most of the students from all over Gambia, were in attendance, along with national media.

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Photos Tell Stories photography students with Jason Florio (center) and Helen Jones-Florio (right) at the exhibition opening night, Alliance Française, The Gambia, West Africa

If you are interested in hosting a Photos Tell Stories workshop – or have us present our previous work in West Africa (River Gambia Expedition; ‘A Short Walk in The Gambian Bush‘; ‘Makasutu – mecca in the forest‘), please check out ‘Book a Photography Workshop or Presentation with the Florios

The Florios - Helen & Jason

You may also like to check out ‘Students Work‘ and ‘Behind-the-Scenes‘.

Reflecting – Photographs of The Gambia by Gambians

Looking back over the inaugural of  ‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language workshops, which we taught earlier this year here in The Gambia, West Africa (thanks to the US Embassy, Banjul, for partnering with us).  And, we can happily say that we are still as impressed by the quality of the young students photography – especially because almost all of them had never used a camera before.

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L-R: Aisha, Muhammed N, Helen Jones-Florio (PTS’s workshop producer), Haryat, Ya Ida, MMuhammed S, Kadji, Omar, Lucia, Catherine, Florence © Jason Florio, Kombos ‘Photos Tell Stories’ photography students

 

Photos Tell Storiesphotography workshop: The Kombos region, The Republic of The Gambia, West Africa – students were chosen from various senior secondary schools in the region.

A slideshow selection of work from the  students – taken during their portraiture class with P.T.S.‘s photographer and tutor, Jason Florio, and their ‘Home‘ work assignment:

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Above image © Jason Florio – The Kombos Photos Tell Stories workshop students – following images taken by the students during their ‘Portrait Photography’ class.

 

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To see more of the Kombo students  work, and their portraiture workshop, please click here and ‘Jason Florio teaches ‘Photos Tell Stories’ Gambian photography workshop students how to photograph each other

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You may also like to check out our ‘Behind-the-Scenes‘ FB page, where you can see Jason Florio and the Photos Tell Stories students during the workshops.

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Photos Tell Stories‘ – photography workshop in Kartong, The Gambia : Students were chosen from the Press Club, Kartong Basic Cycle School. Following is a selection of their images.

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St Martins School, Kartong, The Gambia, West Africa
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Image © Tyrone Florio, Kartong, The Gambia
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Image © Malang Jarju, Kartong, The Gambia
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Image © Edward Badjie, Kartong, The Gambia
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Image © Binta Jarju, Kartong, The Gambia

To view more images from the Kartong Press Club students, please click on the following slideshow:

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Photos Tell Stories‘ – photography workshop in Soma, Lower River Region, The Gambia : Students were chosen from the Silicon Institute. Following is a slideshow selection of their images:

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Silicon Institute, Soma, The Gambia, West Africa
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Image © Lamin Saidy – Soma, The Gambia
Image © Nfamara Kinteh
Image © Nfamara Kinteh – Soma, The Gambia

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Photos Tell Stories‘ – photography workshop in Kembujeh village, The Gambia: students were chosen from the Aila Senior Secondary School. Following is a slideshow selection of their images.

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Aila Senior Secondary School, Kembujeh, The Gambia, West Africa – with the FujFilm, USA, digital cameras

 

To see more from the Kembujeh photography students, please click here

Image © BUBACAR JARJU
Image © BUBACAR JARJU, Kembujeh, The Gambia
Image © BUBACAR JARJU
Image © BUBACAR JARJU, Kembujeh, The Gambia
Image © KADDY JASSEY
Image © KADDY JASSEY, Kembujeh, The Gambia

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Photos Tell Stories‘ – Farafenni Senior Secondary School, Lower River Region, The Gambia. Click here to view a slideshow of more of the students work

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Farafenni Senior Secondary School, Farafenni, The Gambia, West Africa – thanks to FujiFilm USA for the cameras!

 

Image © Ousman Bah
Image © Ousman Bah

 

Image © Ousman Bah
Image © Ousman Bah

 

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Click on above image to view the gallery – to see full gallery if images, please go to Slideshow: Gambian photography workshop students – Farafenni

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The culmination of the above workshops was an exhibition of sixty prints – ‘Photographs of The Gambia by Gambians‘ – one print from each student’s collection, at Alliance Française, in The Gambia. The attendance at the opening night far exceeded what we had hoped for – with national media coverage (TV & press).

We look forward to teaching more Photos Tell Stories workshops soon.

The Florios – Helen & Jason

 

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Photos Tell Stories - tote bag design by ‘Jekkah-African Inspired Clothing’ Gambia

 

 

 

 

Photos for the weekend: exhibition ‘Photographs of The Gambia by Gambians’, West Africa

Above – a small selection of some of sixty creative images from our young Gambian photography students, on exhibit at Alliance Française (until tomorrow, that is!), here in The Gambia, West Africa.

However, after a very successful exhibition opening night  – with national tv coverage/media in attendance – and the subsequent two week run, tomorrow (Saturday 31st May), sadly, it’s time to take down the ‘Photos Tell Storiesphotographs of The Gambia by Gambians‘ .  However, we’ll pack our Gambian photography students prints with great care so that, perhaps, in the not too distance future, we can exhibit them again.

We’ll post more of the students work soon but, in the meantime, please check out  the ‘Students Work‘ and ‘Behind-the-Scenes‘ pages, to what they got up during the photography workshops with myself and, photographer/tutor, Jason Florio.

And, if you are interested in hosting a Photos Tell Stories photography workshop, click here for more details.

Enjoy!

The Florios - Helen & Jason

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Jason Florio (center),Helen Jones-Florio (right) with the Photos Tell Stories photography workshops students – exhibition opening night, Alliance Française, The Gambia, West Africa

Gambia Radio & Television (GRTS) coverage of ‘Photos Tell Stories – photographs of The Gambia by Gambians’ exhibition

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click on image to view GRTS footage

 

Check out the ‘Photos Tell Stories – photographs of The Gambia by Gambians’ exhibition opening night on GRTS, at Alliance Française, The Gambia, West Africa. And, for those who can – and who haven’t yet made it down to AF - sixty prints, from our young photography students, will be exhibited until Saturday 31st May, 2014.

Thanks for stopping by. More news coming soon.

The Florios - Helen & Jason

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Photo of the Day: Gambia by Gambians – ‘The Welder’

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Student: Asmau M. Jallow, Farafenni, The Gambia, West Africa – ‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language‘ with Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio.

Photographs of The Gambia by Gambians‘ – 60 prints – is on exhibit at Alliance Française, Banjul, until Saturday 31st May, 2014.

To see more, please click on ‘students work‘.

We’ll be adding more photos, from our young Gambian photography students, over the coming weeks.

The Florios – Helen & Jason

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GRTS – Gambia Radio & Television – coverage of Photos Tell Stories exhibition opening night. Click image or here to view

Press: The Voice newspaper, Gambia, features ‘Photos Tell Stories: photographs of The Gambia by Gambians’ exhibition

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The Voice, interview with Jason & Helen Florio

 

Many thanks to Nfamara Camera – a journalist from Gambia’s Voice newspaper – for coming along to the ‘Photos Tell Stories – photographs of The Gambia by Gambians‘ exhibition opening night on Friday 15th May, at Alliance Française. It’s great to have such positive  national press coverage, to showcase our PTS’s workshops students photography.

One for the weekend –  an uplifting image, from one of the sixty prints we have on exhibit at AF, until May 31st, 2014 – by Lucy Njoku, Kartong village Photos Tell Stories photography workshop:

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Please check out ‘Students Work‘ to see images from all the Gambia photography workshops we taught, courtesy of the US Embassy, Banjul.

More news coming soon.

The Florios - Helen & Jason

GRTS (Gambia Radio & TV) coverage of the exhibition opening night

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photography workshops, travel, and more…

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