The Biscayne Times

Friday
Aug 07th
Portraits in the Era of COVID-19 PDF Print E-mail
July 2020

Life at home, through a photographer’s lens

Soon after the corona virus forced a domestic lockdown affecting all but essential workers, photographer Tracey Hagen hit upon an idea while walking her dogs through her Belle Meade community, in Miami’s Upper Eastside: Photograph her neighbors at their doorsteps or through their windows from a safe distance, and ask them to describe their challenges, inspirations, and wishes for the future after experiencing the pandemic.

“I learned about this from photographers around the country, and I was inspired to do this in my community,” Hagen says.

She offered her subjects high-resolution digital images in exchange for donations to Feeding South Florida, the nonprofit food bank that last year delivered 51.5 million meals from Palm Beach to Monroe County.

Over three months starting in mid-March, her project grew to more than 100 families and business owners along the Biscayne Corridor and Miami Beach. Her work was featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and WTVJ (NBC-Channel 6). After the May 25 murder of George Floyd, she pivoted toward Black-owned businesses working to survive in this critical time.

Replies to her three questions about the pandemic have been edited for brevity.

Hagen intends to turn the project into a book and perhaps an exhibit at her Upper Eastside studio. Until then, you can see more photos at www.traceyhagenphotography.com and full responses to the three questions at her Instagram page: #traceyhagenphotography.

– Mark Sell

 

 

1_Franklyn-Oliver_Crystal-Ivory

Franklyn Oliver, Crystal Ivory, and Franklyn Jr., 20 months

Belle Meade

What is the most challenging part of this COVID-19 pandemic you’re experiencing? Balancing work and childcare. And we really miss dining out, too. 

What is the most positive thing you’ve experienced during this time? We’re getting a chance to spend a lot of time with our son during this pivotal time of his growth and development. He does something new every day. He never ceases to amaze us.

What do you want your children/family to remember most about this time? The importance of maintaining our faith in God during difficult times.

 

 

2_Danilo-De-La-Torre_David-Rohn

Danilo de la Torre (stage name Adora), David Rohn,
with Ralphie and Reggie

Little River

What is the most challenging part of this COVID-19 pandemic you’re experiencing? Danilo: Not knowing what’s going on for real, and the uncertain future of the country. David: Fear!

What is the most positive thing you’ve experienced during this time? Danilo: Staying home, working in the garden, having the dogs around and the traffic absent. David: People feeling more connected to each other.

What do you want your children/family to remember most about this time? Danilo: We wasted months of our lives and destroyed the economy. A very dark, unfriendly, and vicious period. David: I’m not sure.

 

 

3_Jan-Mapou

Jan Mapou

Little Haiti

What is the most challenging part of this COVID-19 pandemic you’re experiencing? My business, Libreri Mapou, closed the first week of March. I am home, waiting for the sun to shine over my head and kill the devil known as COVID-19. I love seeing artists of all creations and miss people coming to my store to discuss literature.

What is the most positive thing you’ve experienced during this time? Staying at home makes us creative, so we decided to have the Little Haiti Book Festival online Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. We have 20,000 viewers.

What do you want your children/family to remember most about this time? All this is a new experience to them. However, even though they play less with their friends, they do enjoy the new form of graduation and grow more familiar with parental discipline.

 

 

4_Gillian-Love-Smith_and_Dr.-Edward-Smith

Gillian Love-Smith and Dr. Edward Smith with Jack

Belle Meade

What is the most challenging part of this COVID-19 pandemic you’re experiencing? I’m nine months pregnant with our first baby girl. It’s a delicate dance building her nursery together with the uncertainty of what my husband faces every day as an ER doctor.

What is the most positive thing you’ve experienced during this time? From the darkness we see love, unity, humanity, and the simplicity return to life all around us that somehow got lost. That is the kind of world I would like our daughter to know.

What do you want your children/family to remember most about this time? I would want our newborn daughter to know that her dad is one of the heroes in this COVID story. [Lenni Love-Smith was born May 4.]

 

 

5_Carmen-Mise_Victoria-Fuentes_Oscar-Fuentes

Carmen Mise with Victoria Fuentes, one month, Oscar Fuentes, and Marcos Fuentes with Hamlet

Biscayne Park

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? The loneliness, not being able to see our family and friends. The joy of our newborn Victoria and the worry of keeping her safe.

What is the most positive thing? Time spent together at home. Discovering how people around the world have found ways to uplift each other.

What do you want your children/family to remember? That we were strong during this time, that we were productive, creative, and loving.

 

 

6_Nicole-Gates_Chef-Karim-Bryant

Nicole Gates and Chef Karim Bryant, Lil Greenhouse Grill

Overtown

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? Adapting to business without my core base -- my diners -- and remaining mentally balanced.

What is the most positive thing? Finding the power of positivity within.

What do you want your children/family to remember? That we never left each other’s side.

 

 

7_Brooke_Spencer_Kelli_Zachary_Jana_Roger-Miller

Brooke, Spencer, Kelli, Zachary, Jana, and Roger Miller, with Boo and Ginger

Miami Beach

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? Not being able to comfort and be comforted during this emotional period. [Roger lost his father at the beginning of the pandemic.]

What is the most positive thing? Having three months with our family back together, reconnecting through difficult times.

What do you want your children/family to remember? The special moments we shared. The value of family. I pray these memories will overshadow the fear and uncertainty.

 

 

8_Frank_and_Fran-Rollason

Frank and Fran Rollason, with Skippy and Bandit

Belle Meade

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? As director of Miami-Dade County’s Office of Emergency Management, feeding seniors and obtaining PPE for our first responders and nurses caring for COVID-19 patients.

What is the most positive thing? How first responders and doctors have met all challenges at the risk of exposing themselves and their families.

What do you want your children/family to remember? It was a bad time for kids, and their mommies and daddies kept them safe. Families must remember this moment in the context of the political arena in which it was played.

 

 

9_Evans-St.-Fort

Evans St. Fort

North Miami Beach

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? Keeping clients and staff safe, while dealing with grieving families who have lost someone from the virus.

What is the most positive thing? Getting an opportunity to spend time with family.

What do you want your children/family to remember? How much family matters, because that is all we really have in the end.

 

 

10_Margaret-R.-Tynan

Margaret R. Tynan

Belle Meade

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? The unknown. As a rule, there was always a solution in my life. But not now.

What is the most positive thing? Calls from neighbors and friends in Belle Meade: “Do you need anything? Can I help?” Gives you a good feeling.

What do you want your children/family to remember? That you were there for them. While I’m restricted from some activities due to my age [85], I call on my fellow Belle Meadeans to see how they are doing. The only family and home I have is Belle Meade.

 

 

11_Arshan_Javed_Roderick-King_and_Scherazade

Arshan, Javed, and father Roderick King with Scherazade

Miami Beach

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? The lack of spontaneity and freedom. I miss seeing friends and going to the gym. I also miss touching.

What is the most positive thing? The space and time it has given us to reset ourselves as individuals and as families. This uncertainty is a very powerful place for us and for humanity. All possibilities are still open.

What do you want your children/family to remember? How good it felt to all be together doing our individual and collective work. A grounded, local, close-to-home, commute-free, simple way of life. After dinner, dishes, showers, and homework, coming back together again for connection, cuddles, and bedtime kisses.

 

 

12_James-Nicholson_John-Lyons

James T. Nicholson and John Lyons, with Baxter

Belle Meade

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? Accepting the restrictions, knowing that abiding by them and changing “life as we once knew it” is essential to human survival.

What is the most positive thing? Reading books for pleasure and listening to music. Enjoying our neighborhood more than ever.

What do you want your children/family to remember? We are one human race. Our health is our most important asset.

 

 

13_Chef-Amina-Ly

Chef Amina Ly

Miami Shores

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? Doing 20 percent of normal routine while paying rent. Seeing young people without a job. Putting beautiful gourmet food in a box. Seeing friends and customers without a hug or kiss.

What is the most positive thing? Staying with family.

What do you want your children/family to remember? Our magnifique moments spent together at the pool. We never spent so much time all together at home!

 

 

14_Chef-Calvin-Smith

Chef Calvin Smith

Aventura

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? Going into busy grocery stores not knowing who might have COVID 19. I say a prayer each time before going in.

What is the most positive thing? Families forced together want to try the “Chef Cal experience” in their homes.

What do you want your children/family to remember? It took a deadly virus to bring people and families together to put the phones down, play board games, hold backyard picnics, and create memories.

 

 

15_Cary-Aronovitz_Stella-Lozano_Marcela-Lozano

Cary Aronovitz, Stella Lozano, Marcela Lozano,
with Gabriel, 16 months

Upper Eastside

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? Marcela: My mother is visiting from Colombia and does not know when she can go back home, where my dad and 94-year-old grandmother are self-isolating.

What is the most positive thing? The support and love flowing around us, within our little family, our neighborhood, our world. For every sad story there is one of kindness and bravery.

What do you want your children/family to remember? How much we love each other. How strong we can be when we are together. All the love and kindness in the world.

 

 

16_Suzanne-McPherson

Suzanne McPherson

Midtown

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? Trying to keep my family, employees, and our customers safe as we reopened our store, Midtown Creamery.

What is the most positive thing? Time off to rest and spending more quality time with my family.

What do you want your children/family to remember? Never take life for granted. Live every day with kindness and love for each other. Know that God will protect us, because out of every storm there is a rainbow.

 

 

17_Laura_and_Adrian-Gonzalez_sons_Dylan_and_Theo

Laura and Adrian Gonzalez, sons Dylan and Theo, with Bailey

Miami Beach

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? Keeping my family safe at all times and trying to make a living to feed them every day. [Adrian owns David’s Café Cafecito.]

What is the most positive thing? I’m spending time with the family and able to experience little firsts like a tooth coming out, and family bonding activities that would normally not happen because I work so much all the time.

What do you want your children/family to remember? We are all vulnerable at any given moment, so it’s so very important to always be kind and be grateful for everything we have and not harp on what we don’t have.

 

 

18_Shirlee-Fernandez

Shirlee Fernandez

Upper Eastside

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? When my Power Fit Studio and vacation rental business shut down. It took a month to convert to tele-fitness. Meditation and physical activity helped immensely to overcome the anxiety.

What is the most positive thing? Adjusting to the slower pace and really connecting more with my children. Ours had been the house of busy, running in and out and only connecting two to three times a week over meals.

What do you want your children/family to remember? We live in a community and must look out for each other. We are stronger together.

 

 

19_Andrea-Battista_Noa-Battista_and_Lilaj-Segal

Andrea Battista, Noa Battista, and Lilaj Segal with Cece and River

Belle Meade

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? The unknown, the distance from our parents/grandparents. They are well but could use a good hug.

What is the most positive thing? The great appreciation for each other, our home, our neighborhood, our Miami sun.

What do you want your children/family to remember? That all you need is love, family, health, and each other. The power of connection, and the digital tools we have to remain connected, inspired, and updated.

 

 

20_Deborah-Spiegelman

Deborah Spiegelman

Sans Souci

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? The unknown and unpredictability of what may happen next. Our world is hurting. There are no gatherings or opportunities just to comfort one another. There are no hugs or shoulders to cry on.

What is the most positive thing? Our community has come together in many ways with gratitude and creativity. Our museum team has expanded its reach through Museum at Home digital programming. [Deborah is CEO of Miami Children’s Museum.] We’re reaching out of comfort zones that will help us survive and ultimately thrive.

What do you want your children/family to remember? Cooking and baking together. Laughter, tears, caring, and sharing. The beauty of our surroundings, the chirps of birds. I hope my daughters realize how strong, successful, and incredible they are.

 

 

21_Charles-Castro_and_Steven-Haas

Charles Castro and Steven Haas with Roger

Miami Beach

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? Converting a beautiful new convention center into a COVID-19 hospital and waiting, not knowing if you will receive patients while feeding 10,000 people [Steven is executive director of Centerplate at the Miami Beach Convention Center.] Concern about the stigma.

What is the most positive thing? Working side by side with restaurateurs and city offices so we can come together, compromise, and set the tone for the future.

What do you want your children/family to remember? Never forget. Learn from this experience. Shutting down the world economy is not the answer. All nations must prepare for the future and have this event as a budget line item.

 

 

22_Sean-Latterner

Sean Latterner

Belle Meade

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? Fear of exposure as a paramedic firefighter. Alertness to any and all symptoms. The fear of spreading it to others.

What is the most positive thing? The slowing down of the modern pace of life. The time to just relax.

What do you want your children/family to remember? I want my son Sean to remember the frailty of the human condition. Appreciating the time we have here to enjoy nature, life, and people.

 

 

23_Mark-Weiser

Mark Weiser

Little River

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? Zero income. [Mark has been a prominent music and cultural promoter for 50 years.]

What is the most positive thing? No deadlines. Nice pace of life. Few responsibilities. Learning new skills.

What do you want your children/family to remember? People helping people.

 

 

24_Yvette-Harris

Yvette Harris

MiMo District

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? Not being able to see friends and family. Daughter, age 11, missing her friends.

What is the most positive thing? People checking on other people, sharing, encouraging, and being present.

What do you want your children/family to remember? Operate in gratitude at all times.

 

 

25_Tracey-Hagen

Tracey Hagen

Belle Meade

What is the most challenging part of this pandemic? Staying positive with all the suffering happening around the world on so many levels.

What is the most positive thing? Documenting this time by taking pictures of neighbors for this project, “Portraits in the Era of COVID-19.” Making new friends and gifting them with memories to share and pass on to future generations while giving back to Feeding South Florida.

What do you want your children/family to remember? Quality time spent together enjoying bike rides, home-cooked meals, and not rushing around. We as a family, a nation, and global community can conquer any challenge no matter how fierce by doing our part and staying positive, creative, determined, and kind.

 

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