1. A Trinidadian Family | Part II

    The next day I arrived at 4pm with sweat on my brow and an overused camera in my hand after hiking up into the jungle to see Mr. Jose’s Estate, a close-to 500 year old cacao plantation (upcoming series coming soon).

    The family had prepared themselves and we set out to their front porch to begin taking photos. Each one wore a smile that lit up my heart and, surely, the heavens above.

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    As I write this, tears came to my eyes. I truly couldn’t be more grateful to have had the honor of taking this precious families first photos together.

    The middle photo above was the very first capture I got of them all together, and it seems their smiles are bigger than any other photo taken. I am overjoyed for the blessing this has been to me, and I hope way more blessing for them as well.

    This next one is by far my favorite.

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    As we finished, we said our goodbyes for the day and I set on foot back to the house where dinner was being prepared.

    Earlier the next morning, Peter went out and bought some of the most expensive fish the local fisherman caught the night before straight from the Caribbean Sea. Tricia had been cooking most of the day preparing a meal to share with me that evening.

    Sadly, I wasn’t able to make it to the meal due to previous plans to document in another part of the village, but later that evening, I received a package from the McLarens - a huge portion of the fish they had saved for me.

    As I sat and ate it, hearing stories from those I was staying with on how much Peter and Tricia had worked to prepare this fish for me, I was overwhelmed with tears of joy; a joy that overcame me, which words cannot describe.

    It is truly in the little things that bring the greatest joy. And to me, this fish wasn’t just a little thing, it meant the world to me. 

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    The next morning, before I left for the Port of Spain to fly out to Jamaica for my next documentary location for Amizade, I came back to the McLaren’s home to say fare well and to tell them to be expecting a package from me of several prints of the photographs I took and a book with all the photos I captured within it.

    I sincerely want to thank Peter and Tricia for their kindness and vulnerability in sharing their lives openly with me and gifting me with a beautiful reminder of joy. And thanks to those sweet little ladies (Trichell, Azaria, Jenique & Jenniah) for lighting up my life, bringing that twinkle back into my eye of pure, unadulterated joy, and reminding me of that careless, freeing frolic of childhood.

    Sincerely, 
    Stephen Stonestreet / @stephenstonestreet

     

  2. A Trinidadian Family | Part I

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    On this day, the moist ocean air blows up from the Caribbean Sea, through the coconut, banana, orange and cacao trees, resting on my skin and cooling me off from the heat and humidity this part of the world consistently gifts to all.

    The clouds covered the sun’s view of my skin as I looked out towards the coast with sounds and smells bellowing up around me as food was being prepared.

    Yet, I had this feeling of tension… of the need to explore, to venture out, to meet new faces and hear new names, and document the beautiful way of life these people live here in Matelot, Trinidad and Tobago.

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    So I got up, grabbed by camera, and walked out the door, feeling my surroundings and allowing my inner man to direct my way throughout this small village built upon the side of a mountain along the coast.

    I ventured off the path, through the woods and in-between homes, and slowly approached a beautiful home built facing the coastline close to the steep hillside. And here I found three young girls playing beside their home, with a free joy as I heard giggles escape from their mouths as I approached.

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    "Hi there," I said. Silence. Then one giggles and says, "Hi" with a held out "i" and grabs my hand with hers. I continued to ask for their names and then met their father as he came outside to pick some herbs from their garden for the dinner their mother was preparing. I spoke with him and learned all their names: Peter and Tricia McLaren, and their children (oldest to youngest), Trichell, Azaria, Jenique & Jenniah (twins). Then he began to tell me about their lives and the way of life all live within their community.

    "We live natural here. We’re trying to maintain a natural lifestyle here in Matelot, to focus less on the material things and concentrate on the natural things. Because we know if we stray away from nature, we stray away from ourselves." - Peter McLaren

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    As we continued to speak, they invited me inside to see their home.

    "We chose to live here because of the natural environment; we want our children growing up picking fruit from these trees and living in peace, without fear and safe from the noise and life of the city. It’s quiet here, the community is kind and we know everyone. And though many say we are secluded, we love it; for us and our family."

    The McLaren’s chose to live here after living in the city, Port of Spain, where they reminisced of the loud and obnoxious sounds and locked gates that kept their kids from exploring due to lack of safety. The main reason they moved back to Matelot, where the two of them grew up, is because they want their children to live naturally, connected to the earth around them; free to explore without worry of anything happening to them, and to be able to hear the nature around them. 

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    As we paused our conversation, I look around and saw the photos taped up on their wall. Blurry 5x7’s and Polaroid’s from school, but not one single photograph of their entire family together.

    As I heard yells from the house down the path where I was staying, “Time for dinner, Stephen,” I asked them if they had ever had their family portraits done…

    "No, we haven’t had any family photos before…"

    I assured them I would return tomorrow, and planned to meet with them at 4pm, after hiking up into the jungle with Mr. Jose, to take their families portraits… for the first time ever… 

    Part two coming next.

     
  3. greylagmusic:

    Live version of our song “Another”

     
     
  4. Mr. Mathias Brown is truly a modern-day Nelson Mandela. Residing in a small, rural community in Petersfield, Jamaica, he is due no less amount of honor. For years, he has been a major player in the growth and health of the local economy, helping community members be sustainable, living lives full of hope and peace. You can’t walk down the street and speak with someone who doesn’t deeply respect this man for what he has done for the community, helping bring peace, equality, and economic strength. 

    He is a true community development champion; a symbol of peace and strength for his community and a beacon of hope to our world.

    I am excited to share more upcoming stories about Mr. Brown and this community of beautiful people, coming soon || Stephen

     

  5. Float / A drive through Appalachia

    The drive from Virginia to West Virginia never ceases to take my breath away. I’ve traveled this road back and forth more than 10 times this summer, and though it is the same road, the views are always different in mood and feeling. I cherish these times on the road.

    This last trip, layers of fog floated over the Appalachian mountains with a ghostly presence. 

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