Happy valentine’s day - from my project couchsurfing /// carlos and prieto - madrid, spain - indignados and happy. carlos and inma, 34 and 35 respectively when i stayed in their guest room in madrid, are two of the founders of the indignados, the movement that sent tremors through spain's political system in 2011. back then, his long blog posts were being read by thousands of people and he and inma were coordinating and organizing all the activities in their neighborhood. when i arrived at their home in spain, the protests were over – or temporarily on hold, at least – so we were able to spend a lot of time together. carlos is a computer engineer and inma is an english teacher. before settling in madrid, they both led very full lives and traveled extensively. they met in a bar one evening, when inma was showing around a couchsurfer she was hosting at the time. two months later, she had a new home in which to host her visitors – the one she and carlos had moved into together. it's a pleasant apartment in the city center, with large, bright rooms and a guest room with its own private bath, quite a luxury for a couchsurfer. the oddest objects in the house are the world war i-era radio and transmitter parts that carlos loves to restore. he is passionate about them works with maniacal patience to bring them back to life. inma, carlos and i shared many long conversations and some meals that bordered on feasts. they introduced me to their friends and together we sampled madrid's tapas and the best of local nightlife. i asked them if, after all the politics and protests, they had a message they wanted to share with the world. it was inma who replied: "everyone, please be a little kinder and more aware of our planet. we don't have another one.” #couchsurfing#spain#madrid#love#kiss#valentinesday#indignados#happy#couple#lovers
From the project “mirror and windows” @river_boom /// “getting to see girls’ bedrooms must have been a teenage obsession for the members of the all-male photographic collective riverboom. now that they have more or less grown up, they have decided to transform that dream into a reality. riverboom’s photographer traveling the five continents to see where women, between the ages of 18 and 30, sleep. they have discovered that girls’ bedrooms are much more then just places where they lay down their heads – they are the places where girls read, love, dream, work and play” ///
mickayla, 23 - london, u.k. - mickayla's father is one of the guards of the tower of london, so, mickayla and her family live there.
there are 37 families living inside the tower of london.
mickayla was a singer. until few years ago she was singing in a jazz band but then she decided to stop singing because she sais that she's shy. she now works in the sells department of "charlotte olympia" and thanks to her job, mickayla has a big collection of shoes. "living in the tower of london is magic and special, even if you are not completely free when you live here. there are some restrictions for the time you can go out and come back in, and when you have guests at home, they have to leave before 12:00 am, or after 6:00 am. so, sometimes my friends sleeps here because they always want to stay until late here!" she says.
From my project fathers /// wadala slum, mumbai, india – rizwan shaikh (24), zafinah (3) and zeenath (3 months) - rizwan was born and raised in the wadala slum in mumbai. he met his wife, sana, at her older sister's wedding. her family was not very happy about them getting married, because they don't believe in marriage for love. the couple didn’t care and got married anyway. once it was done, the family had no choice but to accept it.he works directly from home, as a local internet provider for the areas of wadala and sewree. he's been doing this job for 2 years. he used to work at a local cable provider, but then, as he saw the demand for internet access increasing more and more, he got the idea of starting his own business. he currently has 600 customers. business is good and he wants to expand.rizwan loves his daughters. his family were the only ones at the hospital who were happy about having girls. unlike most people where he is from, he feels girls are gifts from god. “everybody want to have boys. they think they may support you and your family!i would like my older one to become a doctor. for the little one, i’d like her to get into something related to islam, but i’m open to whatever she may want to do in life.” #family#father#fathers#dad#india#mumbai#slum#children#child
Couchsurfing stories /// homer, alaska. michael – there are two things you have to know. first, there are waves in alaska. second, there are men who surf those waves. they do it in below-zero weather, amidst the ice, alone with nature and themselves, testing their own limits, day after day. michael is one of those men. he's also a couchsurfer. "my soul is called by wild and remote places, far from the things of man. as a young man, i fell in love with whitewater rivers, sailboats, my wife and the sea. in that order. so we found a boat." in 2006, he, his wife and their dog were living on a boat in san diego when they weighed anchor and set sail, heading north. they stopped when they reached alaska. it's a place of ice and exploration – of both nature and one's soul – where the first question you ask in the morning is, "what's the weather like today?" at these latitudes, it can make all the difference, even if michael does break out his surfboard even when the thermometer reads well below zero. he dives in among the floating ice, his long strokes taking him away from the land until there’s nothing around him but icebergs and snow-capped peaks that seem to belong to another universe. he comes back with a frozen beard and veins full of adrenalin. "success lies in the application of knowledge," he explains when asked how he started – which means that he, too, feels the cold and might even be afraid. nevertheless, as he loves to repeat, "every day is unique. there will never be another." the confidence it requires to open up your home to a stranger is the same kind of confidence it takes to try something new every day, until you master it. when i went to visit him, having read his blog about surfing amidst the ice, michael tried to convince me join him in the water. it was winter and the temperature was -13 f. i didn't have the courage to do it. i've since come to regret that decision a little, especially when i remember something he told me over a beer at the end of the day, when i asked him his idea of happiness. "variety and a bit of adventure," he answered, "and the opportunity to try something new.” #couchsurfing#alaska#ice@couchsurfing
Do migrants have a past? do migrants have a future? or are they forever locked in the images of man on sinking boats, of women, babies in their arms, of families waiting in line, stranded in the shadow of borders we thought had forever vanished? i have tried to see things differently. i have learned that these people actually had a job where they come from. i decided to show them as they would have liked to be shown. dembo as a baker, osman as a bus driver, noreen as a nurse. these are just some of works they are used to do and skilled in. but dembo, osman, noreen and many others are now living in tents, camping out in a small park in squalid conditions. these photos are their cv’s translated in images. these photographs are not real. but they should be. /// alhagie gaye, 19, shop assistant from the gambia “don’t come here” my uncle had a clothes shop in the gambia. it was an honour for me to work there. selling beautiful things, advising the ladies – i liked that. but my uncle is old, he had to sell the shop. i couldn’t find another job, that’s why i’m here. my brother wanted to follow me. “don’t come here,” i told him. europe is not how we’ve imagined it. i don’t even have a tent to sleep in, let alone a job. #migrant#migrants#job#jobs#future#cv#europe#borders
From my project happiness is… /// sun, 31 - shanghai, china - “ what is happiness? depending on your time of life, happiness might mean very different things. when i was young, what made me happy was going on a trip, playing with my friends, wearing new clothes, winning first prize in a sports competition, performing in a dance show or wearing crazy make-up. even just an ice-cream. happiness was more about an object – if i got it, i would be happy. but as i grew up, i wanted more. happiness was about doing the things i liked, being successful, gaining pride and respect. traveling, exploring the world, being carefree. being loved and spoiled by the person i loved. but then, all of a sudden it felt as though nothing would satisfy me. i started questioning everything around me. i even went to a monastery to find myself, i had no desires. there was a void. i had to start learning who i was, to be reborn. after that i changed, and became “emptier”, somehow. it was like my mind was starting over. things i used to ignore were somehow winning me back. i was like a soldier returning home from a distant country. at last i realized the ultimate happiness was to cherish what i have here and now – my family, my piano and little jobs that keep me busy. one day i hope to lie in my garden with my children running around, and watch them playing with my parents as my husband prepares the dinner. that to me will be the perfect happiness. “ #happiness#happy#china#shanghai#respect#travel#storytelling#storyteller#hereandnow#here#now
It's always nice to come home for a few weeks after months of traveling while i was on a assignment for @natgeo. tuscany is a perfect place to recharge of new energy and prepare for the next assignment.#tuscany#italy#green#landscape#nature
From my project couchsurfing /// caroline & ellen, 24 and 20 – blue mountains, australia - seeing how many of them are gathered around the table, the first thing that springs to an italian's mind is that their family could form its own soccer team. sisters caroline and ellen, the australian couchsurfers i spent a few days with in katoomba, in australia's blue mountains, have five sisters and two brothers.that makes nine siblings in all, plus their mother, a grandson and, of course, the various boyfriends and husbands. those numbers give an idea of how big their house is. it is here that they come when the entire family –give or take a member or two – wants to spend a weekend together, the occasional couchsurfer, like me, in tow.fortunately, there's room enough for everyone. the wooden house has three floors, the top one with enough bedrooms for all of the groups that form this extended family to have one of their own. i slept down below, on a couch in the ‘basement’, a room with a view that belies its name, looking out onto the garden and the magnificent mountains that are such a popular destination for tourists visiting australia.i was invited here by caroline and ellen, whom i had met a number of years earlier. they had been traveling around europe and spent a few pleasant days couchsurfing in my home in tuscany. we stayed in touch and, once i was in australia, i decided to call them up and see if we could do something together. that's how i ended up in the middle of this gigantic family reunion, surrounded by brothers, sisters and their menfolk, all gathered around the table or busy filling each other in on recent events in their lives while they waited for breakfast. some of the most momentous updates came from my personal hosts, who had just moved to sydney: caroline to study art and photography and ellen to study economics.it was the beginning of a new life and, as ellen once told me, "what scares me most is the thought of reaching the end of my life and realizing i haven't done the things i wanted to do." @couchsurfing#australia#travel#family
From my project fathers /// taichung, taiwan – chung mang che (40), chung jui han (9), chung kai eing (8) and chung jia ying (6) /// mang che was born and raised in yulin, a city in the central part of the island of taiwan. at the age of 25 he was already working as a firefighter. he met his wife one day when she had a car accident and he was the one on the scene. after he helped her, they realized they liked each other. they became a couple and it wasn’t long before they got married. over the years, they've had 3 daughters. “we moved to taichung not long ago, to give priority to our daughters’ education. here, the schools are better.” when mang che has a day off, he loves taking his daughters to play basketball, but “unfortunately,” he says, their favorite pastime is watching tv together every evening. #father#fathers#dad#dads#family#child#children#padre#padri#taiwan#taichung
From my project couchsurfing /// elisa, 30 – panama city - it's a far cry from a couch. to end up at least once in a home like elisa’s is probably every couchsurfer’s dream. i realized as much before i even set foot inside her two-story villa in central panama city. parked out front to welcome me were a porsche, an audi suv and a couple of bmw motorcycles, all signs of a level of wealth that – even in a place where dollars and business deals are easy to come by – is far above the ordinary. then again, the story of elisa, whose home this is, is equally unusual. her father is a businessman who has made millions working with jamaica. it's impossible to ask exactly what kind of business he deals in – my host's discretion on this topic is absolute. her mother spends her days drinking coffee with girlfriends in the villa's enormous garden and going on intensive shopping expeditions to the city's most luxurious shopping malls, choosing more designer furnishings and paintings to match those that already fill the house. elisa, on the other hand, studied international relations in europe. she discovered couchsurfing when she was in berlin and has been repaying the hospitality she received on the sofas of the old world ever since by offering all-inclusive stays to visiting couchsurfers. although there is no shortage of rooms in the main house – a white-marble villa with gold-plated faucets – elisa shows me to a private guesthouse. it is an entirely separate building, where her father has installed a library with tens of thousands of books, a gym and a home-theater complete with plush seats acquired directly from a cinema. it was a little like being in a five-star hotel, but elisa seemed not to give it much weight. "it's attitude that determines your quality of life," she told me. "you can always choose to have a positive outlook." she certainly does not lack positivity. although her studies focused on something completely different, she has recently begun to make jewelry using peculiar materials she has shipped to her from all over the world. her next goal, was to make her creations a part of her father's business. first jamaica then the world @couchsurfing
Do migrants have a past? do migrants have a future? or are they forever locked in the images of man on sinking boats, of women, babies in their arms, crawling under barbwire, of families waiting in line, stranded in the shadow of borders we thought had forever vanished?
i have tried to see things differently. i have learned that these men and women actually had a job where they come from and dream of being able to work in europe. so when i set out to photograph a group of migrants eager to reach switzerland but blocked in northern italy, i decided to show them as they would have liked to be shown. dembo as a
baker, osman as a bus driver, noreen as a nurse and jafar as policeman. these are just some of works they are used to do and skilled in. but dembo, osman, noreen, jafar and many others are now living in lurid tents, camping out in a small park adjacent to the city’s station in squalid conditions.
these photos are their cv’s translated in images. i have borrowed the language of publicity to show what reportage cannot. these photographs are not real. but they should be. /// bubakar diallo, 26, mechanic from guinea - before i arrived here i hadn’t known much about europe. except that there is work here. work and peace. in guinea we lack both of it.
i was ten years old when my father died. they found him shot in the streets. may be it was a robbery, may be the military or the rebels were behind it. three years later my mother died as well. since that time i’ve been taking care of my sister who is five years younger than me. she is a tailor but earns hardly anything. after i had lost my job as a mechanic i came here to be able to take better care of her. it didn’t work out.
for six months i’ve been travelling through italy now. tomorrow i leave for ventimiglia. maybe i’ll manage from there to reach a country where there is work. #migrant#migrants#future#refugee#refugees#work#hope