The opening night for ‘Photos Tell Stories – photographs of The Gambia by Gambians‘ exhibition, at Alliance Française, in The Gambia, West Africa, was a resounding success!

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On the left, yours truly (Helen Jones-Florio), and Josh Shrager (to my left), from the US Embassy, Banjul – Alliance Française, The Gambia © Jason Florio

 

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.

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Le Directeur of Alliance Française, Banjul, Didier Martin,  introduces the exhibition, filmed by GRTS. Image © Jason Florio

 

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Carrying on with photography – Abdoulie Jallow from our Soma workshop. Image © Jason Florio

 

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Kembujeh students work, Alliance Française, The Gambia. Image © Jason Florio

 

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.

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Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio – GRTS, Alliance Française, The Gambia – click image to view

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.

Image © Ousman Bah
Image © Ousman Bah
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Image © Alieu Bojang
Image © Nanding Saidybah
Image © Nanding Saidybah
Image © Nanding Saidybah
Image © Nanding Saidybah

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.

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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

Flo paddling IMG_5776 copy

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!

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Josh and Ric, talking to GRTS about Photos Tell Stories – Alliance Française, The Gambia. Image © Jason Florio

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: helen.jones@floriophoto.com and we can arrange that.

Now… what next?

Watch this space!

The Florios – Helen & Jason

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Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio, Photoville 2013, NYC, SA. Image © Chris Bartlett

 

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