We are now ensconced in the ‘village-like’ Cape Point area of The Gambia. And, aside from being subjected to banging Bangra music – blasted at mac 11, until 3am this morning – all is well. The house we are staying in is surrounded by a rich, luscious tropical garden, accompanied by natures own acoustics – courtesy of the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Oh…and about seven Gambian bush dogs, which our gracious and very charitable host, and dear friend, has rescued!
Speaking of our host – she is also the instigator behind ‘The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust‘ charity, who very generously ‘loaned’ us the two donkeys – for our first expedition in 2009: ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey‘ – with the very un-Gambian-like names of ‘Neil’ and ‘Paddy’ (who was replaced early on in the walk by the more robust Hadley). We used the diminutive, but extremely strong, donkeys to alternately pull the cart loaded down with all our camera and camping gear.
Since we arrived, we’ve been busy meeting with our man at the U.S. Embassy, Banjul – our partners in this inaugural ‘Photos Tell Stories. Teaching photography – a visual language‘ workshop – to finalize the workshop schedule; collecting boxes of cameras and photography books (thanks for the generous donations from FujiFilm USA and powerHouse Books, NYC, respectively); catching up with great friends, reacquainting ourselves with a country which we both love; and lastly, finding somewhere to situate ourselves, so that we have space to set up our pre-production photography workshop office, without too many distractions (again, our host was like an angel sent from on high).
Having said that, the ocean continues to beckon. Hey, all work and no play…plus, the dogs wouldn’t forgive us if we didn’t let them run us ragged down on the beach, every now and then!
After talking with length at Josh, we discovered that we all had a mutual love of photography and, almost one year later, the result of that serendipitous meeting – because we had previously discussed the idea of photography workshops in West Africa – is that we are now back in The Gambia, to teach our first photography workshop to a number of young Gambian students.
In the classroom, through slideshow presentations and discussion, we’ll be covering a number of topics, including : a history of photography, digital camera operation, photography techniques, composition, and editing. On a practical level, the students will be given assignments to complete – the main one being ‘Home – the way I see it‘. As an example to aid the Gambian students with this assignment, we asked each of our professional photographers to provide us with images on the same theme. We received a incredibly diverse cross section of images from them – some very literal, others not so literal. More on that soon.
At the end of the daily workshops the students will have the opportunity to share their images with the whole village, projected onto a giant six meter inflatable screen – courtesy of the U.S Embassy – along with the work of our contributing professional photographers.
Access to the internet in The Gambia has grown exponentially over the last few years and, due to this, almost all of the kids we meet these days are using some kind of social media platform (such as Facebook) – it used to be that when we met kids on our travels here they wanted to give you their postal address, and vice versa. However, now the mantra is ‘will you be my Facebook friend?’ Therefore, we’ll be guiding the students on how to effectively use social media networks – as well as the power of blogging – to share their stories
The workshop will culminate in an exhibition and gala event, where the students work will be displayed through projection and print, to an invited audience – including family, friends and local dignitaries. Following the event, we hope to find an exhibition space to open the exhibit to the general public, inviting other students and their teachers from around the country to come along and view the work – and to talk to them about the possibility of participating in future photography workshops.
Aside from our contributing photographers, we also wish to thank our partners in this venture, particularly to Josh Shrager – Public Affairs Officer/Acting Political and Economic Affairs Officer – and all at the U.S. Embassy, Banjul, for giving us the opportunity to make this workshop happen:
We’ll be updating as regularly as a decent internet connection will allow us. To avoid missing what we’re up to, you can always subscribe to the blog (click on ‘Follow’ on the left hand column); ‘like’ our new ‘Photos Tells Stories’ FB page; follow us on twitter.