Tag Archives: Photography

Fiesta Fridays! 2003 to 2006

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

Fiesta, Alabama’s largest celebration of Hispanic culture and heritage is 15 years old this year!  I’ve been spending a lot of time going through old files and photos and reliving the early years of this festival.  Getting a festival like this started was a lot of work and yet those of us who were there at the beginning really didn’t know how big this event would become – or how long it would last!  These photos and document revealed so much history and so many people involved for all these years.  As I was reliving moment through photos, I was also recalling stories and my personal thoughts.  So as we get closer to our 15th anniversary this year, I decided to begin posting a photo each Friday with a little story – I’m calling these “Fiesta Friday” photos on Facebook and Instagram.  It occurred to me though that there is more to tell about some of these photos and the people involved and the best way to do this is on my blog.

So this post will be about the photos I’ve already posted from 2003 to 2006.  There are so many photos to choose from too!  I started taking the photos at Fiesta the first year never imagining that I would become the official “unofficial” photographer of the event.  I was using film and switched to digital a few years later but these are the photos that really stick out to me of the thousands that I’ve taken.

Fiesta 2003 – My friends Lui Fernandez and Jasmine Reyes dance next to the Main Stage while Susan Daywood, Rei Ramos and Hernan Prado watch and enjoy the music!

2003 – Fiesta’s first year…  I was at the main stage – the Coca Cola main stage and found a group of friends from the Hispanic Business Council (HBC)on the side of the stage dancing and having a great time.  It was getting close to the final acts and everyone was so happy about the success of our first ever event!  We had expected about 2,000 people to come through but when the numbers were finally counted, we had about 7,000 attendees our very first year!  Overwhelming would be an appropriate word to describe our feelings that day.  I snapped this photo of Jasmine Reyes dancing with a young man.  Behind her are Susan Daywood with the City of Birmingham and a member of the HBC, Rei Ramos with the HBC and Hernan Prado, also with the HBC.  What I didn’t realize at the time is that the young man Jasmine was dancing with would become a huge part of Fiesta.  Luis “Lui” Fernandez is a current board member and has been instrumental in creating the “heart” of Fiesta – the Cultural Village.  He took it from a few posters to a group of community members excited about portraying their respective countries and sharing this information with Fiesta guests each year.  When he is in charge of something, I never worry about how it will turn out because Lui has a special talent in creating something to remember!

Fiesta 2003 – Salsa dancers on the main stage

2004 -Fiesta’s second year – This photo was taken from the Coca Cola Main Stage and is of two dancers.  They drew quite the crowd early in the day that year.  Their dancing was on point along with the DJ playing salsa music.  I was taken by the pure joy of the dance that they shared with Fiesta guests that day.  This photo was used in many of the early marketing and advertising we used of Fiesta to potential sponsors and on our website.

Entrance to the Cultural Village created by Lui Fernandez – Fiesta 2004

2004 – Another photo from Fiesta’s second year is of the entrance to the Cultural Village.  You’ve already read how much I admire and respect Lui Fernandez’s talent and this particular year, he decided to create an actual entrance to the village!  I like to say that this was the year the Cultural Village really came to life!  It was the year that music broke out all over the village and people were dancing on the sidewalk and there was always a steady crowd of people walking through to experience this community driven village.  Lui created the entrance with the logo and before the event opened, he added flags from all the Hispanic countries to the white posts which made the entrance even more colorful.  It was such a beautiful sight!

Fiesta board member – Mike Suco – helps his parents, Teresa and Ramon Suco – set up the Cuba booth in the Cultural Village in 2005.

2005 – Fiesta’s 3rd year – This is such a favorite photo of mine because it features Fiesta board member, Mike Suco with his parents – Teresa and Ramon Suco.  Mike’s mother, Teresa, found out that Cuba was NOT represented the year before in the cultural village and she was not going to let that happen that particular year!  She took it upon herself to create a beautiful Cuba booth along with her husband and as you can see in this photo – her son, Mike too!  Teresa and Ramon Suco fled Cuba under the Castro regime in 1962, shortly after they were married and came to the US not knowing the language or anyone and made a great life for themselves and their children.  Mr.Suco worked his way to District Supervisor at Big B Drugs while Teresa Suco became a Professor of Spanish at Jacksonville State University.  I remember the first year I was President of Fiesta, Mike told me his mother asked about me and wanted to make sure I was doing all right and he was helping me enough!  I always felt we had a special bond because we shared the same name.  Such lovely people…

2006 – Fiesta’s 4th year – I had been photographing Fiesta all day and was trying to head over to the VIP area to grab a quick bite to eat when I saw Cultural Village (CV) Chair, Lui Fernandez rush over to me.  He excitedly told me I needed to get to the CV stage right away and get some pictures!  Of course, I followed him right over and there on the stage were the cutest children dressed in traditional Mexican costumes dancing traditional Mexican dances!  Their faces were so sweet too!  I remember thinking they seemed so shy and yet they were smiling and dancing their little hearts out for the crowd that had gathered.  This was the year we added the CV stage and I remember there was quite a bit of activity with other dance performances and even a short play in Spanish!  I’m just so grateful that Lui saw me when he did and told me to get to the stage or I would have missed this performance.  This became one of my favorite memories of Fiesta in 2006 – seeing the sweet faces of these children and seeing my friend, Lui’s face, beaming from a distance as he watched this take place…

More to come so please come back every Friday through September 30, 2017!

Mexican Mother’s Day

My mother – Barbara Zuniga – pregnant with me. I think this photo was taken late 1958 or very early 1959.

Today is Mother’s Day…in Mexico!  It’s always on May 10th, unlike in the US where it falls on the 2nd Sunday in May.  Living in the states…we have always celebrated Mother’s Day on the 2nd Sunday but this year I was aware of more posts than usual from my Mexican friends on social media.

It made me think about Mother’s day celebrations in Mexico, so I did a little googling this afternoon to see what I could find out about Mexico’s celebration.  In truth, it’s much identical to the US celebration – children honor their mothers with gifts of flowers and food on this day, much like we will do on Sunday here in the US.  Restaurant reservations are at an all time high – just like here.  Looking back on the origins of the day are rather interesting though.

In 1922 the idea of having Mother’s Day in Mexico was brought into the country from the US with mixed reviews.  However, it is said that the government, media and Catholic Church got involved and set the date as May 10.  In 1940, the wife of Mexico’s President Manuel Avilla Camacho declared May 10th a holiday and made it a state sponsored celebration.  An interesting custom emerged from this too from the government.  Disadvantaged women were invited to stores to pick a free gift.  In 1942, the government did something even more interesting.  They returned the sewing machines to women who had pawned them and then were unable to repay the loans.  This cost the pawn market approximately $160,000!  It was seen as a great gift though since these women used the sewing machines to help provide for their families.  This was reported in Time Magazine.

The box of photos my sister and I went through last fall at her home in North Carolina – many of these photos I had never seen before. I believe the box belonged to my late Aunt Gail – my mother’s sister.

Today though…I’m thinking of my mother and the life she has lived.  I’ll do this again on Sunday when we have lunch together, but today I’m getting a head start if you will.  When I visited my sister, Kanista, last year in North Carolina, she pulled out a box of old pictures to go through together.  There were several photos I had never seen before.  One in particular was of mom at an event in Cambodia – pregnant with me.  She had on a cute two piece maternity outfit with her hair pulled back and wore cute little sandals.  There were people dancing in the background having a good time.  I know my dad took this photo of her.  She’s smiling and looking off  into the distance.  I wish I knew exactly how far along she was in this photo…how soon I would make my appearance.

People always tell me I look like my mother…it’s such a compliment because when I look at photos like this, she is just so beautiful to me.  Still is…  Feliz día de las Madres!

Me and Mom – Mother’s day last year – 2016

Angels Descending…

Angels descending, bring from above, echoes of mercy, whispers of love...Fanny Crosby

Angels descending, bring from above, echoes of mercy, whispers of love…Fanny Crosby

Angels descending, bring from above, echoes of mercy, whispers of love…Fanny Crosby

There is a place in Bluff Park called Tip Top Grill.  It used to be a gas station and now it’s a little diner overlooking Shades Valley on Shades Crest Road.  Aside from great diner food, it’s also one of the best places to watch a sunset in the city.

On most evenings at sunset, a rather large crowd gathers with cameras and iPhones ready to snap pictures of the sunset and the changing colors in the sky.  I stopped one evening on my way home and stood at the railing waiting for the sun to go down.  I wasn’t really paying much attention to my surroundings – I was maybe one of three people there at the time but within 15 minutes when I turned around, there were about 25 people gathered for the sunset.  I even ran into two friends who saw the crowd and decided to stop and watch!

A few weeks later, I stopped to wait for the sunset on a rather quiet evening.  A family with small children stopped too but not many more people.  The colors of this sunset were gorgeous and there were just a few faint clouds in the sky.  I was so focused on the sunset that I didn’t notice the clouds for a bit.  Then I pulled the camera back a bit and there it was…a cloud shaped like an angel floating up toward the heavens.  I looked at the family next to me to see if they saw it too.  They were a little preoccupied with their kids so I didn’t say anything.  I waited to hear someone remark and it didn’t happen.

Were they seeing what I was seeing?  I don’t know.  If they did, they never remarked.  I was mesmerized by the angel I was watching and the fact that “she” was steadily rising up in the sky.  I remembered a poem I had recently run across by Fanny Crosby.  I always ask myself if this was just a coincidence but deep inside, I know it wasn’t.  When these things happen to me I know they are there to bring me comfort for whatever reason and whatever is to come.  And that makes me happy…

Angels descending, bring from above, echoes of mercy, whispers of love…Fanny Crosby

The sunset that lead to the angel cloud at Tip Top Grill in Bluff Park.

The sunset that lead to the angel cloud at Tip Top Grill in Bluff Park.



The annual Odom Family Thanksgiving Cookie!  Always a hit!

The annual Odom Family Thanksgiving Cookie! Always a hit!

Today the Odom family gathered at our house to celebrate our annual Thanksgiving dinner.  I could go into detail about the preparations, the decorations, the food, and the conversations but I won’t.  I could also make a list of all the things I’m thankful for this year but I think the best way to show this would be to just share the photos I took today.  I’ll also share the messages several of us wrote for our Thankful Tree, a tradition be started a few years ago and that I hope will continue for many years to come.

Today was a great day…and I’m thankful for these wonderful people in my life…

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A Safari of Giraffe

Our encounter with a safari of giraffe in Namibia, Africa this past August.

Our encounter with a safari of giraffe in Namibia, Africa this past August. – Hunters Namibia Safaris

My husband and I took an incredible trip to Namibia, Africa in August.  To say it was a trip of a lifetime would be an understatement!  I’m still trying to find time to go through the more than 2K photos I took with my camera, and several hundred I took with my iPhone.  I don’t want to rush through them either.  Instead, I want to relive those moments and really tell the story of where we were and what we did.

Last night, my husband and I were talking about the trip and I pulled up a few photos.  The first ones that popped up were of our last full day in Namibia among the beautiful giraffes!  We were riding along in the jeep when we spotted one after another.  Our PH (Professional Hunter), Johnny, stopped the jeep and told us to slowly get out and walk toward them.  We couldn’t believe our good fortune in seeing these beautiful creatures of all ages and sizes!

August 2016 Namibia, Africa - Hunters Namibia Safaris

August 2016 Namibia, Africa – Hunters Namibia Safaris

Johnny took my camera while Martin, our Tracker, took my iPhone and they began taking pictures of me, Eddie and Eddie’s cousin, Myrk, standing in front of several giraffe.  What a treasure!  We kept walking slowly toward them after our impromptu photo shoot and I started clicking away with my camera.  They moved with such grace and elegance.  I particularly loved the babies because they were so curious about us and would stare and then their tails would swish back and forth.  They almost appeared to be smiling at us!  The mamas, of course, were standing nearby and keeping a side-eye on us and their youngsters.

August 2016 Namibia, Africa

August 2016 Namibia, Africa – Hunters Namibia Safaris

By the time we got back in the jeep and rode on a ways, we had stopped counting at 80 of these magnificent animals!  We learned later that a group of giraffe is called a “safari.”  Safari means “journey” and giraffe typically travel for food from the Acadia trees.  The trees eventually start to defend themselves from being feasted upon and increase their tannin output causing the giraffe to journey on.

I can’t wait to share more about our trip…what I saw and what I learned.  Meanwhile, please enjoy a few of my photos from the Safari of Giraffe we encountered.

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My Favorite Tree

My favorite tree against a brilliant blue sky this past week...

My favorite tree against a brilliant blue sky this past week…

I was running errands today and looking for a few autumn leaf type decorations to add to my Thanksgiving décor.  Do you know what I discovered?  Halloween décor was 80-90% off at the stores I went to and Fall/Thanksgiving décor was nowhere to be found!  Or, if I “did” find it – it was off to the side in a small section surrounded by Christmas décor!  By the third store, I was just sad.  What happened to fall?  I love fall…the colors changing, the cooler weather and it felt like we went from pumpkins straight to jingle bells!  I know this sounds like it has nothing to do with the title of my blog post, but bear with me just a moment.

I love fall.  Every year, I look forward to the beginning of fall by the changing of one tree in my neighborhood.  I couldn’t even tell you what kind of tree it is.  All I know is that it is the most beautiful tree as it turns from green to orange and yellow and gold each year.  For me it marks the beginning of fall and cooler weather.  Of course, at this moment our state is in a stage 4 drought as we haven’t had rain in over two months so the fall colors were becoming questionable to those of us who love fall and the changing of the colors.  I was a little concerned about this tree myself.

My first photo of my favorite tree this year...the sky was a bit overcast but I was just excited that this tree turned this year with the drought we are having!

My first photo of my favorite tree this year…the sky was a bit overcast but I was just excited that this tree turned this year with the drought we are having!

But then it started…as I drove by it on my way to work one morning I noticed a spot on the green tree beginning to turn yellow and orange.  It wouldn’t be long now until the whole tree was orange and yellow!  I waited until the perfect moment to stop my car and take my yearly photo.  Naturally, the day I chose there was a lot of traffic on the main road in front of the tree, so I drove around the block to get photos from a different angle.  The sky wasn’t as blue as I would have liked, but still…the color and the fullness of the tree was beautiful and impressive.

The tree...from the back side after taking a ride around the block to photograph in less traffic...

The tree…from the back side after taking a ride around the block to photograph in less traffic…

A few days later I took a quick photo on my way out of the neighborhood against a brilliant blue sky.  I could see the leaves blowing and falling to the ground because of the wind that morning.  I knew it wouldn’t be long before all the trees were on the ground beneath this magnificent tree.

Two days ago, the shedding began.  The back side of the tree is looking pretty skimpy but the ground beneath the tree looks like a golden quilt.  For a moment, I had a glimpse of my daughter Anna Marie as a child.  One year, we raked up all the leaves in our yard and suddenly she just jumped into them and started laughing and giggling and throwing the leaves in the air.  I witnessed pure joy on her face and such a great memory for her mama…

The leaves begin to fall...

The leaves begin to fall…

I know by next week the tree will be bare and I’ll begin the wait for it to turn green again and then begin its fall journey which I will photograph once again.

Happy fall y’all!

Fiesta 2016 – Some of my Favorite Photos


Drummer for Los Canarios on the Fiesta Coca Cola Main Stage

We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day!  The sky was blue and the temperature reached the low 80s and the sun made itself known throughout the day.  After the constant drizzle of the previous year, this was so welcomed to the Fiesta board, volunteers and especially the patrons!

Approximately 14,000 people made their way to Linn Park in downtown Birmingham for the 14th annual Fiesta event on Saturday, September 24.  My favorite things to do every single year is to walk the park, visiting all the booths and meeting and greeting all the nonprofits, businesses and vendors who come to be a part of this incredible event.  I take their photos, welcome the new folks and catch up with old friends along the way.


A little girl wearing a traditional Mexican dress gets her nails painted in the Family Village.

One of the highlights of this years event was the competition between countries in the Cultural Village – the heart of Fiesta.  A group of judges went through – anonymously – and voted on the best country booth based on presentation and creativity.   This year the Mexico won the competition and took home $500!  Next year, the stakes will be even higher as the best country booth will walk away with $1,000!


A collage of photos from past Fiestas adorned the Mexico booth in the Cultural Village. The Mexico booth won the first ever competition of Cultural Village country booths!

By the way…next year will be Fiesta’s 15th year anniversary – our quinceanera…and we have big things planned for this milestone!  Mark your calendars for Saturday, September 30, 2017, for Fiesta 2017 and stay tuned for an event packed year leading up to this great event!


Mark your calendar for Fiesta 2017!!!!!

Meanwhile…please enjoy some of my favorite photos from this year’s Fiesta!

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