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





Photos for the weekend: exhibition ‘Photographs of The Gambia by Gambians’, West Africa

Above – a small selection of some of sixty creative images from our young Gambian photography students, on exhibit at Alliance Française (until tomorrow, that is!), here in The Gambia, West Africa.

However, after a very successful exhibition opening night  – with national tv coverage/media in attendance – and the subsequent two week run, tomorrow (Saturday 31st May), sadly, it’s time to take down the ‘Photos Tell Storiesphotographs of The Gambia by Gambians‘ .  However, we’ll pack our Gambian photography students prints with great care so that, perhaps, in the not too distance future, we can exhibit them again.

We’ll post more of the students work soon but, in the meantime, please check out  the ‘Students Work‘ and ‘Behind-the-Scenes‘ pages, to what they got up during the photography workshops with myself and, photographer/tutor, Jason Florio.

And, if you are interested in hosting a Photos Tell Stories photography workshop, click here for more details.


The Florios – Helen & Jason

Jason Florio (center),Helen Jones-Florio (right) with the Photos Tell Stories photography workshops students – exhibition opening night, Alliance Française, The Gambia, West Africa

Opening night at ‘Photos Tell Stories’ exhibition – Photographs of The Gambia by Gambians

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!

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.

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


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


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

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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!

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: and we can arrange that.

Now… what next?

Watch this space!

The Florios – Helen & Jason

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