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

Happy New Year from #ebolafree Gambia! A Year in the life of a photographer and producer team

Traditional masquerades – ‘Fairies’ – Banjul, The Gambia. Image © Jason Florio (personal multi media project with Helen Jones-Florio)


Village Banking, Ghana, West Africa – Image © Jason Florio for Concern Universal, NGO


Ebola sensitization in The Gambia, West Africa – Image © Jason Florio for Concern Universal, NGO


Multi-media: Togolese artist, Amigoe – Image © Jason Florio (personal multi-media project with Helen Jones-Florio) – Vimeo – ‘I am Amigoe, artist-painter’


BBC Africa News – Image © Helen Jones-Florio – 12/30/2014


Updated ‘A Year in the Life of…’: 12/31/14

Thankfully, all is now quiet on the ‘Smiling Coast‘ of The Gambia, after yesterdays ‘attempted coup’.

It’s now been a little over a year since we packed our bags and left behind our much loved apartment, in Greenwich Village, to temporarily decamp the all too comfortable familiarities of our cosmopolitan New York City life, to the tiny Republic of The Gambia, West Africa – a country that both of us are equally familiar with, having spent over 17 years coming backwards and forwards, (‘ikatah, ikanah’), individually and, during the last five years, as a couple.

At times, the transition has been a stretch, having left behind all that NYC has to offer, the things we coolly took for granted – museums, photography galleries, spectacular architecture, cultural diversity…the constant sensory overload.

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Quad Biking in The Gambia, West Africa – Images © Jason Florio for Arik Air/Wings Magazine


President Yahya Jammeh, of The Gambia, West Africa – Image © Jason Florio (stock/Photoshelter)


However (despite the Ebola epidemic – which has tragically effected so many in three other West African countries and , although not one single case  has been reported here, Gambia has been marred by the outbreaks…the results of which have yet to fully emerge), we’ve found that this narrow slither of land has all of the above mentioned to offer too, as we’ve enjoyed a hectic year of working with, amongst others,  the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC – producing portraits of the traditional masquerades); we’ve exhibited our ‘Photos Tell Stories Photography Workshops students work at Alliance Française (and we’re planning to exhibit Jason’s ‘Silafando’ portraits, from our 2009 ‘A Short Walk in The Gambian Bush expedition, with NCAC, early next year); we’ve taken a stroll along the entire coastline of the country, staying in some of the most architecturally inspiring lodges in The Gambia (story to be published shortly). It’s all here… we just need all our friends from NYC to decamp and life will be complete! However, even that balances itself out here, as old friendships continue to grow, our circle of new friends expands, and we constantly meet inspiring folk who pop into the country from all over Africa and the rest of the world.

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Aside from the work we’ve been doing in The Gambia, this past year, Jason has been off on his travels, on assignment for various clients – including the New York Times, Oprah Magazine, and Men’s Journal,  which has taken him to other parts of West and East Africa. He’s also traveled up to Spain and Turkey (PepsiCo), back to NYC (Tablet Magazine), and, we’ve just returned from assignment in Ghana for Concern Universal, who we work regularly with.

Natural soap making, Northern Ghana – Image © Jason Florio for Concern Universal
Tomato farming, Ghana – Image © Jason Florio for Concern Universal


Aspire Academy, Senegal, West Africa – Image © Jason Florio for the New York Times
Aspire Academy, Senegal, West Africa – Image © Jason Florio for the New York Times


Young knife trader, Pakwatch Uganda – ‘Walking the Nile’ /Men’s Journal – Image © Jason Florio
Lev Wood & Boston (left) , Uganda, ‘Walking the Nile’/Men’s Journal – Image © Jason Florio


Walking 80km of the Gambia coastline, Sanementareng sacred forest. Image © Jason Florio for bSpirit Magazine/Brussels Airlines (to be published shortly)


Judging by this past year, and very recent events here in The Gambia, I’ll wager that there is plenty to keep us busy – and entertained – for quite some time, here in West Africa and further afield.

Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful New Year

The Florios – Helen & Jason

Assignment requests: please contact helen.jones@floriophoto.com

Dedicated to Matthew Power – 1974-2014

Image © Jason Florio, Uganda, March 2014

Gambian Photography workshop students – Friday slideshow

Looking back over some of the marvelous work that our young Gambian students produced, during their Photos Tell Stories Photography Workshops, earlier this year. After running through theory in the classroom, Jason then sent the students out into the field. They came back with some very impressive work – considering the majority of them had never used a camera before – which we exhibited, to a packed gallery, at Alliance Française, here in The Gambia, in May.

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This weekend we will be going back down to Kartong, near the border of Senegal, to carry on with our story about the turtle conservation project, which we started last weekend, where we released 20 turtles into the Atlantic Ocean – an wondrous experience. More on that soon…

Have a great weekend!

The Florios – Helen & Jason

Flo_HJF Alliance Francaise
Jason & Helen at the Photos Tell Stories exhibition venue


Related posts: Jason Florio Teaches the Art of Portrait Photography  and Photos Tell Stories Students Work

Slideshow: behind the scenes of the River Gambia Expedition -1044km source to sea African odyssey

In early December, 2012 – mid-January, 2013, we followed the course of one of Africa’s last major free-flowing rivers – the River Gambia. Along the way, Jason documented the everyday life of those people who’s lives depend on the river.

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Image © Jason Florio – gold miners in the River Gambia, Senegal


From the source of the of the river – in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea-Conakry, through the riverside goldmines of south west Senegal, on into The Republic of The Gambia itself, where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean – we had an incredible journey, discovering the regions that we passed through; including dodging hippos and hair raising moto-taxi rides with stoned bikers! Welcome to behind the scenes of our River Gambia travels…

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We hope you enjoyed the ride. You may also like to check out our Floriotravels Youtube page, where you can see snippets of our journey in motion.

Updates coming soon on our pending travels, back down to West Africa

The Florios – Helen & Jason

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