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.

Enjoy!

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):

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Image © Jason Florio

The students practice how to capture movement:

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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:

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Image © Florence Ampong
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Image © Aisha P. Njie
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Image © Gerald Soweh
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Image © Muhanned Njie
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Image © Ya Ida Drammeh
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Image © Omar Dampha
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Image © Muhammed Njie
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Image © Muhammed Sinera
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Image © Kadjiatou Jawara
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Image © Catherine Mahoney
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Image © Jason Florio
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Image © Omar Dpampha
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Image © Gerald Soweh
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Image © Lucia Mendy
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Image © Ya Ida Drammeh
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Image © Aisha P.Njie
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Image © Gerald Soweh
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Image © Catherine Mahoney
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Image © Florence Ampong
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Image © Muhammed Sinera
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Image @ Kadjotou Jawara

The students with Jason Florio – image © P.T.S.’s workshop producer Helen Jones-Florio

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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.

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‘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)

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

in Partnership with US GAMBIA WORK SHOP -300dpi_ FLAT

Friday Photo: Dusk over Kunta Kinteh Island, on the River Gambia, West Africa

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Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Photographer, Jason Florio, walking down the jetty at Kunta Kinteh Island (formally James Island), in the middle of the River Gambia, near to the towns of Jeffureh and Albread, The Gambia, West Africa. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the island was once served as one of the major ports on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade route, of West Africa.

Image © Helen Jones-Florio Taken whilst on ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African Odyssey‘.

New photo project: Masquerades, The (#ebolafree) Gambia, West Africa

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©Jason Florio

 

Now that we are back in The Gambia, we’ll be continuing with a photography project, based on the traditional masquerades of this region of West Africa. Despite the Gambia being a predominantly Muslim country, the animist fuelled masquerade ceremonies pre-date the arrival of Islam and are still tolerated and practiced around the country. Animism is an intriguing subject – the belief that animals and inanimate objects, such as trees, possess a soul, or a spiritual essence.

Also, the juxtaposition between the urban environment and these ancient traditions is fascinating – just like ‘The Hunting’, pictured above (©Jason Florio), in the concrete and corrugated iron enclave of the capital city of Banjul.

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Jason Florio and ‘The Hunting’ – © HJF – screen grab, taken from film footage.

 

Whether it be a circumcision ceremony, celebrating a successful harvest, chasing away evil spirits, enforcing village rules, or simply for entertainment, each particular masquerade plays a central and significant role in many parts of West African society.

Most of the masquerades we’ve seen so far are based on animals. However, the traditions are being hauled into the 21st century, modernised by the use of synthetic fabrics and ornaments, such as Christmas tree baubles, adorning ‘new-style’ masquerades. However, more on those particular masquerades as we move on with the project (sneak preview, below).

Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

The Florios – Helen & Jason

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HJF hanging with the ‘Fairy’ masquerade, Banjul, The Gambia © JF