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Jason Florio and Helen Jones had completed a trip on foot around the perimeter of The Gambia in 2009 and had resolved to make another, this time following the source of the River Gambia through three countries - Guinea, Senegal and The Republic of The Gambia - to the Atlantic Ocean. Inspired by Scottish explorer, Mungo Park, who made trips to West Africa in the late 1700's, they resolved to find a way to fund a two to three month photographic expedition and document the communities living along the River whose lives rely upon it. To create "[a] modern-day account of the people, societies, and life along the length of one of Africa's last, free-flowing, major rivers. There has been talk of damming the river. This journey will also be about the impact to the communities, and the environmental impact of damming."

They set up a Kickstarter campaign in September, 2012, and raised above their goal. 

"23rd November, 2012 - 21st January, 2013, after 400km overland in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea-Conakry into Senegal and then putting our two canoes into the water in Kedougou - we paddled (no engine!) over 700km of the River Gambia to its end, at the Atlantic Ocean in Banjul, The Gambia."

Sponsors received regular updates during the trip, including thanks along the way and the promise of great print-rewards! The trip was a huge success as you will see. 

Inspiring!


Prints from the expedition will be on-view at Photoville, in Brooklyn Bridge Park, September 19 - 29, 2013.

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Less than two miles long, the Gowanus Canal nips through Red Hook and Park Slope in New York's borough of Brooklyn, and was once a hub of water-based activity and a good spot for clamming. Fast forward to the 21st century and here is what Bill Miller found instead. "Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal is one of America's most polluted waterways. More than a century of unfettered industrial abuse was followed by decades of bungled attempts to clean it up. Its contaminated waters hold the evidence of its history. It is murky and clouded over but if you look closely you can see life and light reflected in the mercury, feces and coal tar that drift in the canal like malevolent clouds. There's a lot of mistaken perspectives, like the confusion of looking down to see the sun. I'm trying to wade, visually, into the space between water, shit and the sky."


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I had the great pleasure of being invited to New York's School of Visual Arts Master of Professional Studies in Digital Photography thesis review, where, among other interesting youngsters, I met Masha Ermak and was taken with her project, 'Strangers.'

"This project started out with food photography. One day, I was photographing a raw, plucked chicken carcass, and it reminded me of a naked human figure. So, I took off my clothes and got into the picture, contorting myself to mimic the shape of the chicken. I then playfully discovered how to put my body into abstract, often uncomfortable positions, to develop new creatures or 'strangers.'

"In this work, I want to go against the grain of the artistic and social conventions that tell us the human body is beautiful and graceful. This is also why I maintained the soft, all-revealing light that I was using for my still life images, and why I made the pictures as sharp as possible. Too often, photography flatters the human figure for no good reason other than to make us feel better about ourselves. In this project, I wish viewers to see human body in a new way."


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Pezhman Zahed is an Iranian-born, UK-based artist who recently graduated with a BA in photography from Brighton University. "My practice incorporates economic data and examines the possibility of translating non-visual data into visual forms."

Pezhman describes his engrossing, ambitious project: "Growing anti-western sentiment stemmed from five decades of struggle with the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the reluctant involvement in two world wars, followed by a plot to topple the most popular government in Iranian contemporary history, resulting in the 1979 Islamic Revolution."    

"The photographs demonstrate excited fluids under the effect of sound waves with particular frequencies. The figures used to generate the frequencies correspond to the company's net profits, royalties to Iran and (if applicable) British taxes, in nine most critical years of the company's 42-year long activity in Iran prior to the nationalization. Accompanying the photographs are excerpts from declassified documents and found images related to the events immediately before and after Operation Ajax (the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, in a CIA/MI6-backed coup d'état in 1953)."


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'Fifi' smokes an argileh water pipe at a cafe in St. Paul, MN, 2012. "I talk a lot when I smoke, but it's fun to do when we girls get together." Many parents don't approve of their daughters going out, but they find ways around the rules. © Alex Potter

Alex Potter is a young photojournalist from the Midwest living in the Middle East. She is currently based between Lebanon and Yemen.

According to her bio: Alex began her career in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes. After growing restless with her nursing job, Alex picked up to document post-revolution Yemen, a land with zero lakes, but plenty of mountains to climb. In 2012, she was selected as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, and moved to Lebanon. 

Though she didn't study photography, Alex has attended the NYTimes Lens Review, Eddie Adams Workshop, and a VII Masterclass, which were much more beneficial than your average classroom. Since 2012 she has been chosen for the Chris Hondros Student Fellowship, Lucie Foundation Emerging Scholarship (2012, 2013), PDN Photo Annual, and American Photography 29, among others.

"Since the start of the war in Somalia, thousands of refugees have settled into bordering and western nations, part of the ever-growing Somali diaspora. One of these largest communities is in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This mid-sized city of 400,000 in the Midwest is home to an estimated 40,000 Somalis. It has been over twenty years since the first refugees arrived. Many were children at the time, now grown into a new generation of young adults, faced with the task of balancing tradition with transformation, heritage and a new identity.  

The community has faced many struggles: recruitment of young men to al Shabab, gang violence, and prejudice of a mid-sized city in the Midwest. Yet through it all, the youth have thrived, and the community is revitalized. They are mentors, artists, poets, and community leaders. Though their stories are different, their message is clear and united - Hanoolaato (Long Live) Somalia."


Here's a bonus, a sample from Alex's work in Yemen:

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Yemeni women spray graffiti on barrier walls leading to the Presidential Palace, demanding the former president be brought to justice, Sana'a, Yemen, 24 December, 2012. The Arabic eventually reads, ليعدم عفاش, meaning "Afash (Saleh's nickname) to be executed"

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'Hide and Seek: The Dubious Nature of Plant Life in High Security Spaces by Adam Walker-Smith,' is a documentary photography project created by a paranoid photojournalist, the alter-ego of British artist Max Colson. Instigated by his discovery of the landscape design programme 'Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design' (CPTED), Walker-Smith's photographic research exposes what he sees as the 'suspect' plants of high security urban spaces.

Officially: Max Colson is a photographer from London who works with text, graphic design and most recently his intriguing alter-ego, Adam Walker-Smith. In 2013 Max was named as a UK winner of the Magenta Foundation's Flash Forward 'emerging photographer' award and was also selected by University College London's 'Urban Lab' to exhibit in their annual show at the Slade School of Fine Art; in 2012 he was exhibited as part of Photofusion's 'Annual Member's Salon'; in 2010 he featured in the 'A Luta Continua' exhibition at Newcastle's Side Gallery.


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Highway 160, Arizona, 2013, © Rob Hann

Road-trip addict and now aCurator's most-published, Rob Hann has kindly been out west again, satisfying my own near-constant hankering to be on the highway. 

"Since October 2001 I've been taking photographic road trips throughout America, mostly in the western states, building a large body of work under the title of 'I Dream a Highway.' I head out whenever I can, usually for about two weeks. On my latest trip I flew into Las Vegas and wandered through eight states before heading back to Vegas and flying home to NYC. I have no fixed route but drive from daybreak to dusk each day before finding a cheap motel to lay my head for the night." Rob Hann, June 2013.


View Rob's previous trip, Lone Star State of Mind.

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Join aCurator favorite Michael Massaia on a trip down memory lane with this new series, 'Saudade.'* 

In my youth I loved amusement arcades, as did Michael Massaia. I guess my UK experience would have differed from the US - not much actual gambling allowed here in the States, so no 'fruit machines' as we knew them, and I'm sure British pinball machines featured far fewer semi-clad women... weren't they all based on American TV shows? 

These machines were produced in the 1960s and '70s. Michael told me "I started working on this a few years back but I ran into all these technical problems when it came to shooting them. I had to modify one of my view cameras so it could get better depth of field at lower f-stops. I also had to use multiple polarizers to get all of the glare off the glass. It was actually very hard to take these. They are shot on large format black and white sheet film developed in pyro, and I'm making the finals selenium toned silver prints."

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. 


* a feeling of longing, melancholy, or nostalgia that is supposedly characteristic of the Portuguese or Brazilian temperament. - Dictionary.com

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After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Robert Herman has just released his monograph 'The New Yorkers.' The book is full of character and characters with a focus on the colourful 1980s. Born and bred in New York, Herman has been shooting on the street since the 70s, when he was studying at NYU.

The book has notes by consultant, editor, and native New Yorker, Stella Kramer and a foreword by Sean Corcoran of the Museum of the City of New YorkGet your copy now!

Robert will be speaking on Tuesday, June 18th, 2013, at the Apple store on Prince St, NYC, at 7 pm.


View Robert's previous aCurator feature, a road trip in South Africa.

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"The first time I entered this world, I was totally ignorant to pot farming, and riddled with judgment. It took some time for my outsider eyes to adjust to see what was all around me - behind locked gates and camouflaged cabins, past generators and barking dogs, protective firearms and diesel trucks - but also to gain the trust of the community. It is an eclectic group, bound together by a deep knowledge of growing techniques, along with a strong distrust for outsiders; suspicion is a necessary survival trait. These farmers are lured by the single magical and medicinal plant; a plant whose cultivation or possession holds the promise of profit, coupled with possible jail time. As state and local laws, along with public acceptance, are now changing, this once-furtive farming community is coming out of its greenhouses, building bigger ones and growing giant plants in full sun, less fearful of the hum of helicopters, more exposed and confident than ever before."

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