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.
When we first arrived on the island, three years ago, from living and working in West Africa, the contrast was stark. All I could see was what appeared to be concrete and glass multi-story structures (Sliema was our first home and for those who know the town, they will almost surely understand my first (mis)impressions). I seriously wondered what would inspire me to get my camera out – in West Africa, it was hardly ever not pointed at something or other. Yet, thankfully, within those first few days, I discovered ‘the doors‘.
Florio was off on the assignment that brought us to the island, on an NGO vessel in the Mediterranean, documenting migrant and refugee rescues. So, I had some time to find my bearings and walking is just about the best way I can think of, to get to know any place I’ve ever lived in or travelled to.
Leaving the vast concrete and glass apartment complex, where we were staying at the time, I turned down one narrow side-street – off the main drag of Sliema – after another and the true architectural beauty of Malta began to reveal itself. And so it was, during those first days on the island, my unintentional ‘Disappearing Malta‘ series began and I’ve been photographing doors and facades on the island ever since. Hence, my camera doesn’t have to collect dust between our assignments after all, as I’m still finding more to photograph each and every time I take a walk.
‘I often wonder if anyone still lives in this building or is it just the cats…’
I’ve always been captivated by imperfections, the wabi-sabi,of things – drawn to the echoes of places that once were. Spaces and places that no longer exist; or at least not in their original form. And, I’m particularly drawn to architecture. I now have a growing obsession to capture the decaying beauty of the abandoned Maltese houses of character, before they disappear completely.
”Paces Press’ – Yet another early days discovery and one of my absolute favourites. I’m still pleasantly surprised to see it’s still there, whenever I pass by’
Furthermore, I want to see what is behind the doors…
Who lived in a house like this? I’m always peeking through letterboxes or broken windows (one of these days, someone will look right back at me, from the shadows of the interior of some decrepit building, and scare the hell out of me! Shades of all the horror movies I grew up watching!). Regretfully, since beginning this unintentional photo series, many of the doors that I have photographed – and the houses that surround them – have already disappeared, and their history with it. In many cases, to be replaced by yet another characterless, generic concrete structure – for rental purposes – clearly made with very little love. Either that or the doors are chained or boarded shut, locked up with ancient rusty padlocks, the keys to which have irrevocably long been lost.
I was commissioned by the magazine (via my NYC agent, Redux Pictures). for an assignment in South Africa – ‘Movable Beast‘ – a story about the largest rhino relocation, by road, in history from South Africa to Botswana, working with the writer, Todd Pitock.
So often with magazine assignments, there are a limited number of images, out of hundreds shot, that make it to the pages of the magazine. Therefore, this Instagram takeover is a great opportunity to share some of my favourites over the next week, that did not make it to the printed page.
Celebrating just a few of the incredibly inspiring women we have met, over the years, and photographed on our travels, and photography assignments.
January 2013: Kaur, The Gambia, West Africa. Members of the Santa Yalla kaffo (group) take a moment between harvesting rice from the fields, which are irrigated by the River Gambia. They are paid 30 Gambian Dalasis a day (80 US cents). River Gambia Expedition
And, not forgetting, all those young girls who keep me company, and make us smile and, very often, laugh out loud wherever we go in the world…we salute you, too.