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.
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.
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.
‘Photos Tell Stories‘ photography 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:
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 Stories – photographs 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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‘
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!
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: email@example.com and we can arrange that.