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).
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
‘Photos Tell Stories‘ photography 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:
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 Stories – photographs 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.
After a very successful opening night, last Friday, at Alliance Française – of ‘Photos Tell Stories – photographs of The Gambia by Gambians‘ – we have started to receive some serious interest, from those who attended, in purchasing the students prints . We announced on the opening night that all sixty in the exhibit are available to buy. All proceeds from sales, minus the printing cost, will go directly to the individual student.
This is such an exciting prospect, for the students – along with having their work recognised and appreciated, in the exhibition – as it adds value to their work, which is part of what Jason brought into the Photos Tell Stories workshops, all those weeks ago. He wanted the students to realise that if they worked hard and produced great work, the potential is there for them to sell it – as he does his own work – whether to media publications or private collectors of photography.
Judging from the public’s reaction at the opening, and the subsequent print purchase requests, I think the students have proved that they are more than capable; considering 99% of them were beginners to the world of photography.
‘Thank you so much and I am very happy. I saw your post on youtube (TV coverage of the exhibition opening night-48 secs in) and it’s just awesome. We are grateful of you, your husband Jason and the American Embassy for promoting photography in the Gambia. It has raise awareness about what photography really meant. Now i can use photos to tell stories even without put any description on it’Photos Tell Stories workshop student, Abdoulie, Silicon Institute, Soma, The Gambia, West Africa.
We also just got word that Africa Geographic are interested in featuring the Gambian students work, in their on-line magazine, in the coming months. More news on that as and when it comes in.
Check out more from the opening night here. And feel free to subscribe (left hand column), follow us on Twitter, or ‘Like’ our FB page.
Hopefully, we’ll be posting more exciting news about more print sales soon!
Between us, and our main partners, the US Embassy, Banjul, we managed to get around 40 of our Gambian ‘Photos Tell Stories’ photography workshop students down to Alliance Francaise for the exhibition opening last Friday – including the students from as far afield as Soma and Farafenni – and Kembujeh, Fajara, Kartong. And, thanks to Didier Martin, le Directeur of AF, they managed to use their persuasive influence to get GRTS – Gambia TV and Radio – down too.
Along with Jason and I being filmed (although I barely sqwaked out the URL for the blog – a sore throat having taken fierce hold a few days previously, whereby I was barely able to speak by the opening night!), many of the students were interviewed on camera too – all very new and exciting for most of them. GRTS’s presence was an added bonus for them all, including us. Also, in attendance were journalists from The Observer and The Point national newspapers respectively.
The response, from those who attended, to the sixty prints on exhibit was extremely positive – particularly (and most importantly) about the quality of the students work. The same question kept coming up throughout the evening: were the students photographers before we taught them? When, in reality, the majority of the workshop students had never even held a camera, let alone taken a photo. We think they did really rather well – and, they obviously listened well to their tutor, Jason Florio, during the theory section in the classroom.
It was great to see so many new, and old friends, turning up to support us all, and those who had seen the posters around and about town, advertising the exhibition, who felt compelled to come and see what this Photographs of The Gambia by Gambians exhibition was all about.
As the night set in, in the outdoor amphitheater, we then projected a slideshow of images by Jason Florio, from three of our West Africa journeys : ‘River Gambia‘, ‘Silafando’, and ‘Maksutu‘ – along with our short film from hours of footage we both shot whilst on the ‘River Gambia Expedition‘
Thanks to Joshua Shrager, Public Affairs Officer
– our main man at the US Embassy Banjul - and Ric Yoneoka, Deputy Chief of Mission, for believing in what we wanted to do when we first talked to them 16 months or so ago; and for sharing this with us all at Alliance Française, for GRTS. And, to Momadou ‘Papa’ Njie, Assistant Public Affairs Officer, for facilitating and joining us on the road for the photography workshops – and for showing us the best breakfast place in Soma!
And, of course, thanks to all those who partnered with us – they too had a hand in making the workshops and the subsequent exhibition happen. For this, we are eternally grateful.
However, if it weren’t for our very talented Photos Tell Stories photography workshop students – who had inspiration, during the theory work, from some amazing professional photographers, who contributed images – we wouldn’t have an exhibition in the first place. So, abaraka bakeh, jerrejef, jarama boyeh, merci beaucoup! Please check out more of their inspiring work here. Or, if you are in The Gambia, the exhibition runs through May 30th, 2014. And, Jason and I would be more than happy to walk you through it – just email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange that.