Riverside’s 2015 Day of the Dead festival

Riverside-DDLMEvery year I look forward to Riverside’s El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival.

Though it is in its twelfth year and I’ve attended each and every one of them, I still look forward to it because of its uniqueness.

Folklorico dancers in pretty pink dresses perform for the crowds at the Aztec stage. This ground level stage is always packed during performances and very difficult to shoot. I used a monopod to raise my camera above the crowds in front of me. I used a remote cable release and guessed about the framing which is why this is often called a "Hail Mary" by news photographers
Folklorico dancers in pretty pink dresses perform for the crowds at the Aztec stage. This ground level stage is always packed during performances and very difficult to shoot. I used a monopod to raise my camera above the crowds in front of me. I used a remote cable release and guessed about the framing which is why this is often called a “Hail Mary” by news photographers

Unlike the other festivals, this is probably the only one where folks attending expect to be photographed because they come all decked up in costume and makeup.

So if you like taking pictures of people, this is one not to miss.

A vendor applies makeup for her friend in preparation of the start of the festival
A vendor applies makeup for her friend in preparation of the start of the festival

This very unique one-day event is usually celebrated on Nov 1st or 2nd in southern California but over the years Riverside’s festival has grown in size.

So the logistics of staging the event in the city’s downtown has caused Cosme Cordova, the organizer and owner of Division 9 Art Gallery to set future Day of the Dead festival for the 1st Saturday of November.

I photographed Frank and Nichole in front of the altar they had set up to remember their loved ones along Altar Row on Tenth St near City Hall
I photographed Frank and Nichole in front of the altar they had set up to remember their loved ones along Altar Row on Tenth St near City Hall

Behind the Scenes

At this very crowded festival, it is often tempting to just accept the lighting conditions as you see it.

By 4pm, the sun is starting its descent and the light is very directional so a lot of areas are already in shadow.

But  I didn’t feel like dragging light stands all over so I improvised a by using my monopod and my Lumiquest softbox.

Since I had no light stand handy, I improvised by using my monopod, placed my bag at the base to make sure my Speedlite didn't topple over when I attached the Lumiquest softbox to it. Behind Frank and Nichole, I placed another Speedlite with a MagSphere fitted over the flash head.
Since I had no light stand handy, I improvised by using my monopod, placed my bag at the base to make sure my Speedlite didn’t topple over when I attached the Lumiquest softbox to it. Behind Frank and Nichole, I placed another Speedlite with a MagSphere fitted over the flash head.

Finding something new

My picture of Ariana featured on the electronic marquee by the 91 freeway in downtown Riverside. You probably won't see it unless you're stuck in traffic because the images take a bit to cycle through.
My picture of Ariana featured on the electronic marquee by the 91 freeway in downtown Riverside. You probably won’t see it unless you’re stuck in traffic because the images take a bit to cycle through.

It may be getting harder each year but that’s the fun of it.

This year my photograph of Aztec dancer Ariana was featured on the electronic marquee by the 91 freeway near Mission Inn ave exit to promote the festival.

The festival was scheduled from 3p to 10p.

The site of the festival was along Market Street running south from University Ave to 12 St.

As with previous years, there were 3 stages: Altura at University Ave, Aztec at 10th/Market and Salsa at 12th.

Day of the Dead 2015

Live music from the like the group Tierra was on the Altura stage, folklorico dancers performed at the Aztec stage and DJ music was at the Salsa stage.

Riverside’s Day of the Dead festival 2015 from Peter Phun on Vimeo.

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2 thoughts on “Riverside’s 2015 Day of the Dead festival”

    1. Jo, I’m so sorry I didn’t get notification for some reason that you had commented. I don’t take for granted that you took the time to stop and say something so nice. In the age of emoticons, likes and 40-characters, I really appreciate you.

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