Looking back: Gambian photography students learn the art of portraiture with Jason Florio

I just had a conversation with one of my sisters, who told me that my young nephew is about to study photography at school, and that his first powerpoint was going to be about my co-instigator in all things photography (from our expeditionsphotography workshops), Jason Florio.  Looking back, for links on here that might be of interest to my nephew, took me to the ‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language (P.T.S.s) workshop posts; all about when we held a number of photography workshops, around The Gambia, West Africa (thanks to a grant from the US Embassy, Banjul), with young Gambian students.

We are still so immensely honored to have had the opportunity to hold the workshops, and particularly proud of the level of work our young students produced – despite 99% of them having never even used a camera.

I just wanted to re-share this – especially for my nephew, Harry. Maybe one day, he’ll be the one teaching photography workshops somewhere in West Africa.


Helen Jones-Florio

2014: ‘Photos Tell Stories‘ photography workshop #1: The Kombos region, The Republic of The Gambia, West Africa – students were chosen from various senior secondary schools in the region

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L-R: Aisha, Muhammed N, PTS’s producer, Helen Jones-Florio, Haryat, Ya Ida, MMuhammed S, Kadji, Omar, Lucia, Catherine, Florence © Jason Florio

The students spent most the first day in the classroom with Jason Florio,  P.T.S.’s photographer and tutor,  where he covered the following topics: a brief history of photography; what is a photograph; portraiture; environmental portraiture; reportage; landscape photography (including showing the students images from all of our contributing photographers); guides and techniques; what makes a good photograph; rules of photography (rule of thirds, leading lines, etc.); lighting; editing. Lastly, how the students could share their world through photography.

We then went on to familiarize the students with the digital cameras (thank you to FujiFilm USA for their support):

Image © Jason Florio

The students practice how to capture movement:

Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Following is a selection of work from the  students – on the second day of the workshop – taken during their portraiture class:

Image © Florence Ampong
Image © Aisha P. Njie
Image © Gerald Soweh
Image © Muhanned Njie
Image © Ya Ida Drammeh
Image © Omar Dampha
Image © Muhammed Njie
Image © Muhammed Sinera
Image © Kadjiatou Jawara
Image © Catherine Mahoney
Image © Jason Florio
Image © Omar Dpampha
Image © Gerald Soweh
Image © Lucia Mendy
Image © Ya Ida Drammeh
Image © Aisha P.Njie
Image © Gerald Soweh
Image © Catherine Mahoney
Image © Florence Ampong
Image © Muhammed Sinera
Image @ Kadjotou Jawara

The students with Jason Florio – image © P.T.S.’s workshop producer Helen Jones-Florio

Image © Helen Jones-Florio

To check out our ‘behind-the-scenes‘ album, please visit the ‘Photos Tell Stories’ FB page – where you can see the students and Jason Florio at work, during all the photography workshops.

‘Behind-the-Scenes’ Jason Florio with the Kombos photography workshop students

Next up, we’ll be sharing the students images from ‘HOME’.  After showing the students work from all our contributing photographers – Manjari Sharma; Amber Terranova; Amy Toensing; Sari Goodfriend; Ryan Heffernan; Ben Lowy; Stefan Falke; Oskar Landi; Thomas Donley; Brandon Remler; Wayne Lawrence;   Chris Bartlett; Robert Goldstein; Henry Jacobson; Heloise Bergman – their assignment was to go and photograph their interpretation of ‘HOME’ . The following day, they returned to the workshop with some very interesting and inspired images. More on that very soon…

Other posts you might be interested in: ‘Teaching the art of portrait photography

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Sonia Pierre -Executive Director of the human rights organization, the Movement for Dominico-Haitian Women (Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitianas, MUDHA) © Jason Florio

Thank you for stopping by

The Florios (Helen & Jason)

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

in Partnership with US GAMBIA WORK SHOP -300dpi_ FLAT

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.

YMCA, Fajara, The Gambia
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.

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.

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.



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.

St Martins School, Kartong, The Gambia, West Africa
Image © Tyrone Florio, Kartong, The Gambia
Image © Malang Jarju, Kartong, The Gambia
Image © Edward Badjie, Kartong, The Gambia
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
Image © Lamin Saidy – Soma, The Gambia
Image © Nfamara Kinteh
Image © Nfamara Kinteh – Soma, The Gambia


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.

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


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

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


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


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





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

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:


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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