Category Archives: Photography

Spirits of Thanksvings Past

Thanksgiving 2012 – Odom Family photo

This time of year, I do a lot of reminiscing and looking at old photographs.  Thanksgiving has always been “the” holiday in our family – both Zuniga and Odom.  When my dad, Aunt Gail, and grandmother were still alive, we always had Thanksgiving on the actual day at my house.  And we would have the Odom family Thanksgiving in Jasper the Sunday before.  Soon, we were having our gathering on the actual day in Jasper.

One of the things that remained constant for many years was the annual family photo on the Odom family swing.  We have been taking a grand-kids photos for years on the swing but we really didn’t start taking a family photo until 2006.  My niece, Kate became our “family photographer” for these photos and we used these photos for our Christmas card too.  We were pretty consistent with this for many years until we switched to Christmas in 2015-2016.  But for this Thanksgiving, I thought an Odom Family pictorial over the years was in order.  Meanwhile, I always like to encourage everyone to take photos so you can reflect back on these times later in life.  I’m finding time goes by very quickly and these photos and memories are so priceless.

Here are our photos over the years…beginning with 2006.  We were all seated on the family swing and Allen and Rhonda’s dog, Ozzie decided he wanted to get into the picture!

In 2007 – Our 2007 photo was taken after a major family football game in my in-law’s backyard!  I’m surprised we were all so put together after all that!  Then in 2008, everyone sympathized with Anna Marie by puffing up their cheeks.  She had her wisdom teeth taken out a day earlier and was a bit swollen!  We didn’t use any of these photos for our family photo, of course, but she was a good sport and posed for photos regardless of how big her cheeks were that year!

I couldn’t locate the photo from 2009.  But here are the ones from 2010 and 2011.  We included Lucy in the 2010 photo.

Here are the photos fro 2012 and 2013.  In 2013, we hosted Thanksgiving in Hoover so we took the photo on our deck.

In 2014, we took our last family photo on the Jasper swing.  After that, we had to change to taking the photo after decorating the Christmas tree at our house in order to have everyone together.  I’m sure this will continue to change over the years but if we can manage one family photo together a year, I’ll be happy!

Nov 2014 – last family photo on the swing in Jasper at Thanksgiving

 

 

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Odom Thanksgiving at Kate and David’s House!

The Big Thanksgiving Cookie – it’s a family tradition!

 The Big Thanksgiving Cookie – it’s a family tradition!Thanksgiving doesn’t officially happen until November 23rd, but this year the Odom family had the gathering a little earlier than usual.  As all of our kids get older and everyone moves out of the general Birmingham/Jasper area, we are getting creative with how we celebrate and where!

Kate and David outside their new home in Athens, AL!

This year, my niece Kate and her husband David wanted to host the family at their new home in Athens, Alabama.  Kate and I kept in touch the week of the gathering via text message down to Kate making sure we had pumpkin pie covered for my daughter Emily.  (I thought it was so sweet that Kate remembered how much her cousin loves pumpkin pie!)  Their home is beautiful and there was plenty of space for everyone to spread out and enjoy each other’s company.  But you know where everyone gathered, right?  Yep…the kitchen!  I told Kate that they have the same situation we have at our house…the end of the island is right in front of the refrigerator and that’s where everyone wants to stand!  Of course, I said this as I was standing there opening a bottle of wine!!

Everyone was able to be there this year except for my daughter Anna Marie and her hubby Ryan.  They were in town last weekend from Colorado for a family wedding so couldn’t return again this weekend.  We were also missing my nephew Dustin and his daughter Maddie.  They always make the gathering more lively!  We missed them all.  But we are working on a cousin reunion in December when everyone is back in town so stay tuned!

Our gathering was just what this family needed…great food, great wine (thank you Perry’s Steakhouse!), the tradition of our Thankful Tree, group photos and of course, the big cookie!  I didn’t take as many photos as I normally do…surprise…but here are several I took throughout the day.  Happy “early” Thanksgiving, everyone!

 

 

 

Black and White Photo Challenge

You’ve probably seen the black and white photo challenge on Facebook these past few weeks.  You get tagged, you post one black and white photo a day for seven days, they can’t be of people and you can’t describe the photo (“no words”) – and you tag someone else to challenge.

I got tagged a week ago and decided it would be a good time to go through some of my photographs.  To say I take a lot of photos would be an understatement!  I used to think my dad was nuts when he would use up an entire roll of film on a single flower.  Now I get it!  And with digital photography now…gosh…just keep snapping away until you get the image you are looking for!

The challenge made me remember what it was like to take photos with film.  I remember buying black and white film at times to experiment.  I always loved the effect and the detail of the photos when I would have them developed.  And speaking of getting photos “developed,” it was always interesting to see what the final result would turn out to be when you picked them up from Walmart or Walgreens.  For the most part, you just never knew!  My dad took so many photos from the time he moved to Bangkok, Thailand for his work and bought his Leica camera.  This was around the time he met my mom.  Going through his photos and slides is always such a treasure to me.  It’s like seeing the world through his eyes at that point in time.

These days photo editing lets us take color photos and turn them into black and white, or sepia or other artsy variations.  The photos I used in the black and white challenge all started out in color but I used my Camera+ app to convert them and get them just right.  I am still amazed at the detail that comes through with the conversion.

Here are the photos I used in the challenge, only this time I’m breaking the rules and telling a little more about them!

Day One – Taken at a winery in January 2010.  This was our 25th anniversary trip to Napa and the wineries were pretty empty as the holiday and new year’s rush was over.  We received tons of extra attention from the wineries since they weren’t getting a lot of traffic.  I loved the way the wine barrels were lined up at this particular winery and the lighting was just perfect in this cave where they were all stashed.

Day One – Black and White Photo Challenge

Day Two – My husband and I visited Ft. Worth, Texas earlier this year and visited the Stockyards.  We heard about the daily walk of The Herd and positioned ourselves directly in front of where the herd made their turn.  We couldn’t believe the horns of these magnificent creatures!  It felt like this one was looking right at me and saying “take the picture already!”

Day Two – Black and White Photo Challenge

Day Three – This is a portion of the Four Little Girls monument called “Four Spirits” on the corner and across the street from the 16th Street Baptist Church.  It was unveiled in September 2013 and received a lot of traffic.  Everyday leaving work, I would pass it and see all the people taking pictures and paying respects to the four little girls who were killed when the church was bombed in 1963.  One evening I left work early and spotted the monument virtually empty.  Fortunately, I had my camera with me and pulled right up and was able to take a number of photos including this one.

Day 3 – Black and White Photo Challenge

Day Four – In 2011, I was attending a conference in Washington, DC.  My colleagues and I were able to take some time to tour a little and it was unanimous that we wanted to go to Arlington Cemetery.  Seeing all the white tombstones stretching across all the hillsides was a sobering sight.  Everyone in our group was silent but emotion was visible on all of our faces.  Converting this photo to black and white, I believe, shows this emotion.

Day Four – Black and White Photo Challenge

Day Five – This was taken on a very cold day after a little snow in Alabama.  The birds were going nuts in our backyard and flying all over the trees most likely in search for food.  Our bird feeder was empty so I’m sure this was their way of telling us to get it filled again!  This little guy decided to pose for my camera despite all the flying and chirping going on!

Day Five – Black and White Photo Challenge

Day Six – For our 24th anniversary trip in 2010, Eddie and I went to Callaway Gardens for the weekend.  We toured the beautiful grounds one day and found this beautiful chapel – the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel.  What I love most about this photo is the reflection of the chapel in the water.  Such a beautiful place!

Day Six – Black and White Photo Challenge

Day Seven – My last photo is of my favorite subject…my puppy, Lucy!  Lucy loves the snow and this was photo was taken on our back deck where she was frolicking and trying to eat the snow.  I think the coldness of the snow makes her frisky!  This is one of my favorite photos of her too with the snow falling on her black ears and one caught in flight right in front of her left eye.

Day Seven – Black and White Photo Challenge

If you like photography, I would encourage you to take a few photos and convert them to black and white.  Then, compare the color and B&W photos side by side and notice the difference in detail and dimension.  This black and white photo challenge was just what I needed to take a critical look at my photography.

Happy Fall Y’all!

My first picture of my favorite tree this year…still a little green but beginning its fall color show.

It’s finally fall!  This morning while I was walking my pup Lucy, it was a cool 50 degrees, sunny and the wind would blow just ever so slightly.  A few times, while we were walking the leaves would fall off the tree and float by us.  Listening to the wind and the rustle of the leaves was so calming.

It’s been a little rainy and dreary these past few weeks.  Around the end of October, I always start to watch my favorite tree in my neighborhood.  I wrote about it last year in a post called,  My Favorite Tree.  It’s just such a gorgeous tree and when the leaves start changing, they change quickly and then before you know it, they’re gone.

Two weeks ago, I noticed a spot on the top of the tree that was beginning to turn orange.  I knew the tree would begin its color change soon.  This past week, I began taking a photo of the tree everyday as I left my neighborhood.  The first day was a brilliantly blue and sunny day, much like last year when I photographed the tree.  I stopped my car just across the street and took my first photo of the tree this year.

Over the next three days, the colors kept changing against a gray sky.  We had some rain and wind so I began seeing more and more leaves falling and covering the ground below the tree like a gold blanket.  I was so hoping the tree would be able to turn completely orange and gold before the leaves began falling.  But still…this tree is beautiful to me no matter what stage it is in.

Today, I was coming home from running errands around 4 p.m.  The sun was starting to set  and was catching the gold and yellow of the tree as I drove up.  I stopped briefly to capture one final photo this year.  I know in the next few days, all the leaves will fall and the tree will settle in for a long winter’s nap.

Today’s photo of the tree – it has already lost most of the leaves from the back side. In a few days, it will be bare.

Whispers from the Past – A Native American Experience

Whispers from the Past – October 2017

There is an event called Whispers from the Past that takes place each fall at Aldridge Gardens in Hoover.  I’ve always wanted to go but for some reason or another, I’ve never made it.  This year I was determined to go and I knew my mother would love it so we made plans to go.  The event is designed to provide attendees with an accurate portrayal of the lives – both past and present – of Native Americans in the Southeast.  There are approximately 530 different tribes in the US, each with its own customs and language.  That day we were just hitting upon a handful and the event  definitely lived up to its educational purpose.

We arrived just in time for the first dance demonstration – the Native American Pow Wow dancers.  As the dancers prepared their beautiful regalia, we listened to Alex Alvarez as he introduced each dance.  We learned that Pow Wows are the Native American people’s way of gathering in dance, song and friendship.  He went into great detail about the regalia, the significance of all the regalia, the reason for the dance and also a little information about each dancer who had traveled from all over the Southeast to participate in the event.

One dancer in particular, a young woman, wore a dress with metal cones that jingled when she walked and danced.  Alex explained that this was a healing dance and that there were several versions of a story involving a dream where the dress to be worn along with the dance and song to be performed appeared to a person.  Instructions on how the dance and costume would be used were spelled out in the dream.

The dance with the men wearing the bustles was incredible!  I think the back of the clothing in this instance was more striking than the front.  The dance signified the retelling of stories of the hunt to their tribe.  The beaded moccasins were adorned with fur from Icelandic sheep.  Alex mentioned that when a Native American wears something from an animal they are asking for that trait to reflect upon them.  The bone bead breastplates were worn to keep arrows from piercing their chests and the head-piece was made from porcupine.

There were several other dances and I hate that I lost track of their significance.  Taking notes while photographing was a little difficult! That’s why I let my photos tell the stories at times.  This is one of those times!

This was a very kid-friendly event with activities galore!  One that mom and I found very beautiful was leaf pounding….and it’s just what it sounds like!  We walked around the back of the Aldridge Gardens house and there were people placing leaves between two strips of white cotton fabric and pounding the leafs with a rock to make the transfer.  Some of the designs were really beautiful too!  Mom and I picked up the instructions and decided to try this at home.

Other families were making dream catchers together.  These are so iconic when you think of Native Americans.  We thought about making one ourselves but then mom spotted artist Jim “White Cloud” Hill doing a sage cleansing on someone and she was intrigued!  We walked around after watching a cleansing but she kept mentioning it so we went back so she could experience this.

The use of smoke is not uncommon in religion.  For Catholics, incense is used during mass and it is also used by Buddhist and others.  To many people it can symbolize spirituality.  For Native Americans,  the cleansing is done using a large feather to fan the smoke in order to rid the person from any negative energy and help with healing.  I could tell this ritual was having quite a positive effect on my  mother as I watched this play out.  She smiled sweetly as she followed Mr. Hill’s instructions during the process.  Afterward, he gave her a hug and maybe it was my imagination, but she appeared “lighter.”

Mom and I learned a lot that day at Aldridge Gardens.  It left us wanting to know more and I hope we can find other ways to learn about Native American culture in Alabama.  I know there are opportunities…

Alabama Dia de los Muertos Celebrates Quince Años!

 

Dia de los Muertos celebrates Quince años!

Dia de los Muertos Alabama, presented by Bare Hands Gallery, celebrated 15 years this year!  I know I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again…after my beloved Fiesta, this is my second favorite festival of the year.  Fiesta board members have always felt a kinship with DOD Alabama going back to our fifth year in existence.  That was the year we “discovered” one another as each of our festivals grew and that was the year we decided to support one another.

This festival has been looking for a forever home since it lost its original location last year due to the changes in the Birmingham landscape.  The Rotary Trail was completed and it just wasn’t possible to use the same area for a festival this big.  Last year, the festival temporarily moved to Cahaba Brewery and it was packed.  After the crowd that showed up, they knew they needed more space so this year they secured Pepper Place for the event.

Papel Picado lines 2nd Avenue South between the main altar area and the main stage at DOD 2017

The entrance was at 3rd Avenue South with sponsors lining the left hand side.  A portion of 2nd Avenue South was closed off to house the main stage on one side and the food court on the other.  The main altar site was in the middle between the two in a large parking area.  It was so beautiful and reminiscent of the original location.  Two large brick walls surrounded the space and were used to hang murals and other décor.  Chairs were set up around the site with fire pits as was done in the old location.  I can remember years when it was so cold that those fire pits were a God-send!  Lights were strung between the walls and papel picado was everywhere!  The Mercado was in the parking lot of Pepper Place and there were so many vendors with beautiful hand crafted items for sale!  I wanted one of everything!

This year, the set up allowed for more space and a better flow to all the event components.  The event was crowded but there was more space to walk around and not feel like you were being walked on or constantly running into someone.

I arrived at 3 p.m. to photograph some of the set up yesterday.  I always like to get there early to do this and then I stay until after sunset to take photos by candlelight and enjoy catching up with friends.  This year I had a meeting to attend from 4 to 7 so  when I got back to the site, the line to enter was down the block!  Luckily, I had pre-purchased my ticket so walked directly up to the entrance and was given my wrist band!  (Lesson to you folks who didn’t plan ahead!)

People watching at DOD is always entertaining and I love the way more and more are painting their faces as sugar skulls and dressing up.  They embrace this event and seem to take the time to understand the reason behind it…why it is important and why it exists.  It’s not just a costume party, it’s a remembrance of loved ones who have passed on and a way to keep their memories alive for ourselves and a way to tell others about them.

There is also such artistic talent in our city and so much of this talent is displayed at this event in the costumes, the unique vendor items and of course, the altar creations.  I am always inspired when I see what is created and moved to tears by at least one thing I see.  This year, there was an altar created to honor the people who have perished in the many natural disasters experienced in 2017.  It was both haunting and moving…

Here are some of my photos from last night…sometimes it’s just easier to tell the story with photographs.  Meanwhile, happy Quince to DOD Alabama…it was a fabulous event! Viva la Vida!

Fiesta Fridays! 2016

NOTE:  Fiesta Fridays is a special series to highlight the many memories I have of Fiesta through the photographs I’ve taken since 2003.

For Fiesta 2016 there was a renewed focus on our Cultural Village and what makes it the “Corazon” of our event each year.  We depend on the kindness of the Hispanic community when it comes to pulling this village together.  It is because these community members want to share a bit about their countries of origin that the village is always such a wonderful place.

This year we decided to have a competition to encourage participants to take it up a notch or two.  Word got out quickly when this was announced on social media and we had quite a turnout.  Not to mention, the booths were incredible!  Our cultural village chair and board member, Lui Fernandez, always has something special in mind as he creates the village atmosphere.  This year, he really wanted to encourage the community to sign up early for our 15th anniversary celebration and he decorated a booth with photos from all the previous Fiestas.  It was such a great way, in my opinion, to personalize the village even more!

The winner of the competition was chosen by three anonymous judges who went through the village throughout the day to observe and make notes.  At the end of the day, Mexico won the competition and a $500 prize!  Interestingly, the Mexico booth also has photos displayed all over the tent of past Fiestas!  Great minds…as they say!

Fiesta 2016 was also warmer than the year before!  If you read my post from last week you’ll remember that it was a cold and drizzly day.  This year made up for it with blue skies and warm weather.  It was beautiful…  And because of this, I think that’s why I remember people dancing so much!  We decided to use the gazebo in Linn Park as a Dance Station this yea and got DJ Ivan Correa to host music there.  He is always so wonderful and engaging with people.  He gave dance lessons and would also draw pictures of people who took a quick lesson from him.  Each time I went by there was always a steady stream of people.

Last but certainly not least, we had the McDonalds Fiesta Tour return for a third year thanks to our Title Sponsor, McDonalds!  This year, the tour went through a bit of a makeover with updated colors, design and also some new items on display.

Here are a few more photos from that day – some for how colorful they are and others because they are of family and friends who make Fiesta so much fun because they are there…

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Fiesta Fridays series as much as I’ve enjoyed going through my photos and telling them.  If you are in Birmingham on Saturday, September 30, 2017, I hope to see you at Fiesta for our 15th anniversary…and if you are, SMILE!  I’ll have my camera and you may just end up in my Fiesta photo collection!