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.
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.
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.
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.
Stephen Stonestreet / @stephenstonestreet