Last weekend I had the pleasure of photographing a co-worker’s 50th birthday party.  And this wasn’t just any birthday party.  She is from Nigeria and in their culture birthdays are meant to be celebrated.  Not just with cake and presents, but with an entire church service, dinner, and dance.  It’s a time to show thankfulness to God, to praise Him for half a century of a blessed life, and to come together with family and friends from all over the globe.  It was like nothing I’ve experienced before, and it was wonderful.

I just want to say a few things about the day and about the pictures in the slideshow below:

My co-worker, Florence, is absolutely gorgeous, isn’t she?

I loved all the beautiful women in their beautiful dresses and head wraps (called geles), and the men in their traditional robes (called agbadas).

The church service consisted of a praise and worship time, a message from the pastor, a Nigerian song of thanksgiving where there was dancing and singing in the aisles, and prayers over Florence.  I felt right at home in this little pentecostal church, singing along to the songs while snapping photos, and had I not had the camera in my hands I would have been lifting my hands up too.  How wonderful to have a service where everyone comes around to celebrate and give thanks for a beautiful life.

At this party I met some of the most kind, genuine, and gracious people I have ever met.  Everyone came up to me smiling, introducing themselves, and thanking me for being there.  It was almost like I was a member of the family.

I experienced my first taste of Nigerian food.  And it was an experience.

There was a lot of dancing, the Nigerian music rarely stopping the entire reception.  And the entire time the dancing and music was going so was the praising God.

As you will see in the photos, whenever there was dancing there was money spraying.  I learned from a friend I made at the party that it is something they do in their culture.  Nigerians spray dancers or special individuals with money during celebrations, delicately placing each individual one dollar bill on the head or body of the subject. It is to show appreciation for that person, or shower them with blessings.  It is not only done for the person of honor, but can be done for any other dancer, singer, etc, at the party.  I was even sprayed with a few dollar bills.  :)

This was a joyous event and it made my heart feel full at the amount of love in one room.  Friends and family coming from all over the world to honor Florence and to honor God for the gift of Florence.  It was really a blessing for me to be a part of.

Here are a few photos (set to music) that tell the story of Florence’s birthday celebration.  Happiest of Birthdays to you!

gina - you captured this so well!!! beautiful!

tracey - Ok, first of all, I think that everyone should get this party when she turns 50! Or at every decade. How cool to celebrate aging in such a beautiful and fun way. You did a fantastic job at capturing the moments and the joy Stace!

Heather - Stacey, you seriously outdid yourself with these! You captured the joy and the celebration and love for her so well. What a gift these photos are. I was crying just reading your write up, you can imagine what happened when I saw the photos. You have such a talent, friend.

Danica - And…. I’m crying! A little because I miss you all so much, and a little because you are so talented Stacey! Such fun photos! You capture the feelings so easily. Now I have to go pull myself together :)

Naomi - This looks like so much fun! Florence looks lovely! Love the colors. Nice job friend! xo

Stephanie - This slide show made me want celebrate and dance with the music! I love it. Florence is absolutely beautiful; it’s hard to believe she is fifty!

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