Life in Grande

It’ sweet too bad.

I finally met the content creator behind Life in Grande. Her name is Crystal. A brilliant photographer who focuses on the people of Sangre Grande. I have been following her TikTok since 2023, admiring the quality of her work and the stories (captions) that accompany her pictures. Real stories about real people. The focus on the town and the people is rich, compelling and captivating. To quickly put things into perspective Sangre Grande is a town in northeastern Trinidad and Tobago, east of Arima and southwest of Toco, a coastal village. When we meet Crystal is wearing a branded Life in Grande jersey. As we walked through the town here are the content creator lessons I learned.

Lyndon: I admire your ability to approach strangers. I’m amazed at how easily you engage with them and how well they respond. Tell me about your process.

Life in Grande. I just find random people to talk to. If someone is chatty it’s easy. While I’m taking the pictures to get them comfortable they’ll start telling me about themselves. Normally I’d walk up to people I’d like to photograph and say, “Hi, my name is Crystal and I manage a page called Life in Grande. If they ask what the page is about I’d say, “I walk around taking interesting pictures and videos of interesting people.” And they’d either tell me yes or no. If they agree, they’d share their backstory, challenges, anything they’re comfortable sharing really. Often when you stick a camera in someone’s face, walls go up but when you start talking to them about themselves and their lives automatically you can see the walls coming down and that’s when you get interesting photos.

Lyndon: Do people ever refuse to take pictures?

Life in Grande: Definitely. And they usually politely tell me why. It might have to do with their jobs, safety reasons especially if they own a business. Some people say no. For the most part my “awkwardness” works in my favour. I have a nervous laugh. It works in my favour. I feel like my awkwardness is a blessing and a curse.

Lyndon: When does it feel like a curse?

Life in Grande: Everyday. When does it feel like a blessing? Everyday. I don’t try to suppress it anymore. I don’t try to suppress it anymore. I find when I try to suppress it, I become anxious. Oh, I’m super-confident. That is when it’s worse. When I embrace that I’m awkward and anxious but I’m also this and it works out.

A fish vendor asked Crystal from Life in Grande about her aim. “Was it to promote business in Sangre Grande or everywhere?”

Life in Grande: It’s not specifically about business. It’s about people. Everyday people. It was easier to approach street vendors. A lot of people have the idea that Life in Grande is to promote business. No. It’s to promote people. My first camera was a 1300D. I started walking and taking pictures. That’s how Life in Grande started.

Lyndon: Tell me about your gear.

Life in Grande: I started with an iPhone 6s Plus. All the videos you see are from that phone. Recently I upgraded to an iPhone XR. Life in Grande started with a Canon 1300D. It’s only a month now I’ve started using a Sony nex6 but it won’t be used much longer.

Walking along Paul Street, imposter syndrome came up.

Imposter syndrome is the internal psychological experience of feeling like a phony in some area of your life, despite any success that you have achieved in that area.

verywell mind

Life in Grande: I think it’s very important to say that I am not a journalist, I am not a history buff, I am not a culture vulture, none of that stuff. In 2023 I reached out to a guy called Richard Munroe from RGM Pictures. Right here in Grande. I asked him if I could be his water carrier, anything so that I could learn from him because I wanted to improve my photography. He took me to events so I could observe the ins and outs.

Lyndon: What’s your daily routine like?

Life in Grande: I do a lot of walking. When I walk I find the most interesting stuff. I like to leave the main road and walk along the side streets. You find rare gems that you wouldn’t necessarily find on the main street. As of 2024, Life in Grande is my full-time job. The idea is to come out a couple of times a week. I’m committed to visiting different villages. There’s more that needs to be seen.

Lyndon: Is it that Grande has gotten too small for you based on the volume of work you’ve produced?

Life in Grande: No. I haven’t even scratched the surface with Grande. Geographically Toco and Matura aren’t part of Grande but people from these places come to Grande daily to shop and commute. They are a huge part of life in Grande. Life in Grande doesn’t mean you reside in Grande. As long as you’re touching Grande in some shape or form you are part of Life in Grande, and I want to take your picture.

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