52 Week Project Blog

Week 26/52 - Bay Area Couch Surfing

The 26th week is the mid point of my 52 week portrait project. I love to introduce you to someone I met in Berkeley, California. My 26th portrait of that week for June 23rd to June 26th is Adam McGrath! I met Adam from Couch Surfing services. He is the first person to host me his home. Before I continue writing about Adam, I have something to share. One of my rules I created is to shoot between Sunday to Saturday. However, I broke my the rule and cheated the 26th week because of an overlaps between the end of the 25th week into the beginning of the 26th week. I photographed Adam on June 23rd, 24th, and the 26th. I wanted to make use of my time in California and planned accordingly with our schedule. I felt I had to explain the impact between those two weeks. I hope my explanation did not confuse anyone. Let's move on.

What you will read about is who is Adam, what we did with our time together, and how Couch Surfing is now a part of my life. This week also gets the first dog featuring. I can't wait to go into detail about our week! Let's get it!

Adam is a teacher and a musician/music producer in Berkeley, California. He teaches at the Conservatory of Vocal & Instrumental Arts High School - COVAH for short and an important staff member with hitRECord. Prior to meeting Adam in person, we met on Couch Surfing. Essentially Couch Surfing is like AirBnb without the money context and simply about connecting with people during your travels. I made a public trip about my travel and mentioned I needed a place to stay for one night in the Bay Area. Adam was the first person who contacted me and found my argument convincing. I said I am a chill person who's into traveling and photography with gray hair. My gray hair was the convincing factor. Excited to have a place to stay, I couldn't wait to meet Adam! Reading about Adam, his current mission of teaching and working toward his dream of opening a nonprofit recording studio to provide mentor-ship, training, and various resources for at-risk/at-promise youth in the Bay Area. What a powerful statement devoted to making a difference! Other similar interests worth mentioning is his appreciation for film photography, social justice, culture exchange, and dope musical artists like Gramatik, and visited Cambodia. I was stoked to meet Adam. 

June 23rd. The moment I landed in Oakland, I took two train to meet Adam at the Ashby Station in Berkeley. Coming face to face with Adam, already gives me the biggest smile and welcomes me to the Bay Area. Arriving at his home, it was peaceful. On his profile, he mentioned about his Australian Shepard, yet she wasn't there! She would later come home on Monday and then that would be my opportunity to meet her. Later on, we went grocery shopping at a local store only in Berkeley and then shared a few beers over a dinner we cooked. In the home, he has a home studio. Going into the evening on the first day, I wanted to play on the piano. Even though it has been over five years since I last touched a piano, I kept playing and getting into the groove. I was loving the feeling of playing the piano again. 

June 24th. My second day and our session began. We drove to the Grizzly Peak Blvd for some sightseeing. The first horizontal image in the grid was us being interviewed from the NBC Bay Area local station. That was totally by chance! The man in the dress shirt and pants is from Tacoma Washington and that was a shocker for me because I shared I traveled from Seattle. They interview Adam about the Bay Area and recent news about safety at home. It was cool to see that in action. From there on out, we drove around Oakland to point out fun local shops and events that occurred on regular basis. After driving around Oakland, I met up with my friend for our pride adventures. You can see those photos here on my website in the portfolio section. 

June 26th was our last day together. It was the day I had to return home. We made it a day to go hiking and meet Dakota! We drove to Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve. The hike was short yet rough. I made a comment saying I went out the night before to a music festival and danced the night away. Doing the hike the day after I questioned my sanity. Once we made it to the top, the sky was clear as blue and even the city was sharp from the view. Every image in this blog is mostly from our last day. I wanted a week with someone who owns a dog because I love them so much and it would be a fun time photographing them. 

Before I wrap this up, I like to acknowledge Adam for hosting me. He welcomed me to his home, showed me unique places that I never step foot on, and shared amazing stories from his couch surfing days. We have mutual love for the art. On the couch surfing site, after staying with a host, we can write references on their profile. What was written from Adam about my photography, "She's incredibly talented and dedicated to her craft. There are some artists that work so naturally within a medium, it's as if the medium were an extension of themselves. Sally is that artist. Her photographs are brilliant and captivating." I couldn't have said it any better or eloquently. I give my biggest thanks to Adam for hosting me and being in his world during my stay. 

Finally, thank you Adam for being in my project. Seeing the Bay Area was incredible. It makes me happy to meet someone in a different city and who find the project captivating. Your deep interest in my project I had to have you included in my journey. Let's connect again in the near future! 

Week 27 is near. I'm pumping that out tomorrow! Stay hungry!

- Sally