I responded to a stranger’s shoutout on Couchsurfing asking for volunteers to be part of his project. He was in town this week and was hoping to add a few more folks into his happiness project. I figured it might be good fun, wrote a story for him and decided to become a piece of the project.
Gabriele has an unassuming demeanour – a freelance photographer who travels around the world on photography engagements. It was coincidental that 2 weeks ago he was just in Singapore doing an engagement for Fortune magazine, shooting a bunch of very wealthy people. So here he was, in Austin, inviting a Singaporean to be part of his project.
Now, I began to think that Gabriele may be a pretty big deal. I mean after all, his engagements seem pretty legitimate.
Sometimes when your path crosses with a stranger, you never really know who you’re going to meet. Conversations later, I found out that he is actually the guy behind this viral social media story some months back. As part of his two-year couchsurfing project (yes, he was basically paid by a magazine to travel around the world for two years), he decided to photograph children and their toys to form a collective as his personal pet project. He showed me all 55 children from all over the world he took pictures of – they were stunning.
Gabriele is probably on his way back to Italy now to visit his family, before jetting off to his next engagement in Panama. The one advice he left for me – “fuel your life with fun side projects” – and from this professional photographer, we can see that he does take his “side projects” pretty seriously.
Gabriele in action for his happiness project: