Documenting Real Stories: A Photographer Meets a Nomad Family in a Wal-Mart Parking Lot | Fearless and Framed

Documenting Real Stories: A Photographer Meets a Nomad Family in a Wal-Mart Parking Lot

I am a storyteller.

Possibly my greatest muses are my children. At least, they’re my most common. Through the lens of my camera, they’ve grown and learned. But this story is not their story.  It is about someone else’s. Someone whose story is very much different than mine…

This particular story presented itself to me in a Wal-Mart parking lot. As I was parking, I saw him getting out, with his guitar and dog in tow. I immediately realized that he was not from around here.

His contagious energy of adventure + freedom compelled me to follow him and ask him about his story. The first two of his six years traveling were spent hitchhiking.

He spoke with such a passion for music, stumbling to find words that would make me understand.

While he spoke, my heart swelled as I thought deeply about my own passions and my own loves.

We were complete strangers, yet through our mutual love of art and humanity ⎯  we became old friends. 

It was never said, but the knowledge that society doesn’t appreciate someone following your passion, as far as he had, hung in the air. Sure, it can be a hobby, but not a life.

I had to document Terrance. I had a desire to create an image that would capture his passion, his years of being a nomad and his spirit. I thought to myself, ‘This is my calling, to document real stories,’  yet there I stood without my camera!

I kicked myself for not carrying it with me, but felt grateful for meeting Terrance all the same. I felt a little bit more free that day. A little less constrained to what’s socially acceptable. While back home, I couldn’t get Terrance off of my mind. He had inspired me immensely. Coincidentally, I had to run back to Walmart, so I brought my camera along with me this time with a sliver of hope that I’d find him there still.

Little did I know that when I returned, I’d find Terrance on the corner, strumming his guitar while singing to a stream of cars idly driving by as if he were invisible. I sheepishly approached him, uncertain of where to start, but knowing that I had to capture him.

Much to my delight, he agreed to let me photograph him and we made our way back to his van.

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I started snapping away while he fiddled with his guitar. We were both unsure of how this should work. It was then that I saw a tiny hand pop up from the window of the van, it was so familiar.  I saw it over his shoulder. A hand that was as tender and delicate as the hands in my own van.

A beautiful, dread locked little girl smiled up at me. Her name was Indigo.

Equally as beautiful and with dreadlocks as well, her mother watched me warily, unsure of who I was or why I was photographing her family. I went from wanting to document Terrance’s passion to now capturing his family as well. It was different, but somehow better.

Family changes everything.

Now not only did I get to document a feverish love for music, but a family surviving on just what Terrance made playing music ⎯  a family denying the mainstream idealization of what life looks like. This was magnificent! An opportunity to put my self-proclaimed title as Storyteller to the test. Could I tell their story without words?

I asked permission to capture Indigo, which I was graciously given. Terrance asked if I wanted to hear a song about friendship, of course I did! I don’t even remember what the song was, I couldn’t tell you one of the words he sang, for it wasn’t the words that mattered. It wasn’t the words that filled my ears and shook my soul. It was way he eagerly strummed and belted from the bottom of his belly.

You can feel real music and I felt this.

It was real and raw, organic documentation without changing a thing. The energy was palpable, as our passions collided, simultaneously doing what we love, right in the parking lot of Wal-mart, like it was completely normal.

Terrance is a storyteller too. He picked his guitar and a century of life flooded out reincarnated as sound. It spoke of love, pain and history.

His song is our story. A story that I try to capture with every picture that I take.


Writing and photography by Christine Trimble.

About Christine Trimble: Wife to the man of her dreams (he makes her coffee every morning) and mother to two divinely magical, little girls. Christine spends her days documenting the sometimes murky waters of motherhood, trying to navigate how it all works. She talks about magic a lot,  because she feels that it’s real. Christine deeply believes that magic happens all around us, every day and understands that time is ever fleeting ⎯ once its gone, we cannot get it back. However, her goal is to capture everyone’s Once Upon a Time moment, so they may cherish it always.


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