Interview with the photographer Gabriele Galimberti
Can you imagine traveling around the world and sleeping in a different bed every night for a year? Well, how about traveling around the world and sleeping on a different couch every night for a year? While it might be hard, even for the most flexible traveler, that’s just what Gabriele Galimberti did. He spent a year traveling and couchsurfing, staying at a host’s house for a day or more without paying. Gabriele has couchsurfed all 5 continents and welcomed dozens of fellow couchsurfers into his house in Tuscany, all while using his talent as a professional photographer to immortalize the young, diverse and multicultural global community he has met along the way.
While couchsurfing around the world, Gabriele also completed two more photographic projects, “Delicatessen with Love,” which pays homage to all the grannies and their passion for good cooking, and “Toy Stories,” a photo collection dedicated to the children around the world and their toys.
His work captures subjects whose faces, homes and possessions have a story to tell and the emotions the photos communicate make you want to listen. Getting to know people and places in a more profound way through their own experiences, isn’t this the true essence of travel?
How did you develop the idea to travel around the world couchsurfing?
The first time thought of creating a project on couchsurfing was when I was visiting China in 2008. I was travelling alone and I decided to try couchsurfing. The first night I slept on an exercise mat on the floor of a room shared with the couchsurfer host and 10 other Chinese students. It wasn’t exactly comfortable!
Three days after that I was being hosted by a very wealthy woman in Shenzen. I found out that she owned the factory that makes the surprises you find in Kinder Eggs.
So, thanks to couchsurfing, in just a couple of days experienced the lives of two people who were very different, but who had one thing in common: they were both members of this social network.
You have couchsurfed on all five continents in 50 different locations for more than a year, what was the most incredible situation you experienced?
I had many incredible and fascinating experiences, so it’s difficult to say that some are better than others. Each is exceptional in its own way.
One thing is for sure; the Alaskan surfer and the Malaysian snake “collector” (we shared a room!) are among the ones I won’t forget.
Are there any items that you always bring with you on your travels?
Besides a backpack and some clothes, I would say that I bring the usual stuff a photographer carries: a camera, a tripod, a computer, a flash drive and not much else.
What makes you feel at home even when you are in another country?
I really don’t know… I’ve pretty much been traveling constantly for the past three years, so it’s very hard for me to even say what home is for me. I feel at home almost anywhere. There are very few places where I feel out of place, actually, I would say that so far there’s only one: Dubai!
What do you want to express with your photography?
I consider myself a storyteller … My job is extremely narrative. I like to take pictures and then tell those stories. Above all, I like stories about people and maybe that’s why I mainly make portraits.
One of your projects, Toy Stories, was dedicated to children around the world. What were your favorite toys when you were a child?
I had a small stuffed toy monkey that I called Bingo Bongo! It was my favorite toy!