Category Archives: Personal

New COVID-19 Guidelines

We’re living in really strange times right now. Sometimes I feel anxious and nervous, other times I forget about the new reality that exists outside my home.

The positive side about photographing outdoors is that overall it is a safer environment to be in than indoors. Even so, it is important to be as cautious as possible. I know you want to be safe, as do I – and I’m especially concerned about my loved ones as well.

With things slowly starting to open back up, I have instituted new guidelines for photo sessions.

New Guidelines for Photo Sessions:

  1. Physical distancing
    Instead of the usual handshake, we will keep our distance and greet each other from at least 6 feet away. If something needs to be fixed (hair, clothing, etc.) I’ll request you, your partner or someone in your family to fix it.
  2. Zero-tolerance policy when it comes to illness
    If anyone at the session is sick (including me), sessions will have to be rescheduled for another time.
  3. I will be wearing a face mask during the photo shoot

General advice for scheduling a photo session during this time:

  1. Schedule a session on a weekday and/or early morning when less people are around.
  2. Choose to book a 30 minute session instead of the 1 hour to minimize your exposure.
  3. Choose quieter locations. Think outside the box – sometimes I drive by neighborhoods that are so quiet and beautiful, with so many plants/trees/flowers around and I know the photos would come out great! It doesn’t have to be a park or beach. Sometimes the places closest to home can be a great option.

A couple of options I have scouted in South Beach that can work for some new locations:

— The new Miami Beach Convention Center on the side of Washington Avenue has some really interesting architecture and pretty greenery as well. This would work well for an early morning session.

  • Miami Beach Convention Center
  • Miami Beach Convention Center
  • Miami Beach Convention Center

-Just across the street is the New World Symphony which looks really quiet to me. It has greenery and an urban feel, too.

  • New World Symphony
  • New World Symphony

Miami for Nature Lovers

3 Nature Spots to Visit in Miami

Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park
Long Pine Key Nature Trail in Everglades National Park

Being under an official stay-at-home order, I am left to contemplate how to spend this extra time now that I have no jobs and no photos to edit. It’s quite a surreal world we’re living in right now, but I try to take a few moments each day and think about how much I still have to be grateful for.

For awhile now I’ve been wanting to share some sort of Miami travel guide from a local’s perspective, as someone who has grown up here and continues to find this city an exciting, vibrant and culturally diverse place to live.

While I appreciate city life, from the diverse array of restaurant’s to choose from, to having movie theaters and libraries and stores close-by, I also consider myself a nature girl at heart. Give me some wide open spaces, replace the car horns and sirens and incessant construction sounds with a gently running stream and chipper birds however tripe that may sound. Heck I’ll even take a meter’s worth of grass under a tree – just please, please, a break from all those city sounds. (I certainly am getting my wish right now with this coronavirus movie-like reality we’re current living it – albeit I wish it was that minus the horror of death and illness and economic devastation hitting nearly every part of the earth right now.)

With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite nature spots in the city. Check ahead for any potential closing times or events. Tip: Bring along mosquito repellent and sun protection. Umbrellas and ponchos might come in handy too 😉

1. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Fairchild is a wonderful respite from the city. It is expansive and beautiful and well taken care of. This is truly a nature’s paradise, replete with an abundance of tropical plants. If you get lucky, you might get to see one of it’s resident alligators. Keep your eyes out for iguanas and birds as well. They have a wonderful butterfly conservatory next to a cafe if you need some food, refreshments or just some cold AC. Their gift shop is pretty awesome too!

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

What Fairchild is all about:

Fairchild is dedicated to exploring, explaining and conserving the world of tropical plants. We are one of the premier conservation and education-based gardens in the world and a recognized international leader in both Florida and international conservation. Currently Fairchild has field programs in over 20 countries including support to protected areas in Madagascar and Africa and botanic garden development and renovation projects in South and Central America, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

As we work around the world, Fairchild’s level of dedication to native plant conservation in South Florida remains unparalleled. We also have one of  the world’s greatest living collection of palms and cycads. This year we will reach over 150,000 students with The Fairchild Challenge, Explorer and Discovery programs and more than 3,000 adults will participate in our Life Long Learning education courses.

2. Miami Beach Botanical Garden

The Japanese Garden

While this garden is quite small and is good for maybe a 1 hour visit, it is centrally located in South Beach and a relaxing place to unwind. Also: it’s free to the public! It is very well maintained and has a wonderful variety of plants. You can take a self-guided audio tour using your mobile phone or attend a guided tour on Saturdays at 11am. If you meet one of the staff or volunteers – say hello! They are very friendly and kind. They recently even added an apiary to the garden. There are events that take place here as well, so check out the events calendar if you might be interested in attending. The garden is closed on Mondays.

3. Everglades National Park

Shark Valley, Everglades National Park
Bike along the path in Shark Valley, Everglades National Park

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Everglades National Park. Do visit in the winter months if possible, or what they call the dry season from November-March. There are many options in the Everglades: go on an airboat ride, take a hike on one of the many trails, rent a bike at Shark Valley or take the tram, go canoeing or kayaking, or for the more adventurous: camp out in the wilderness!

Camping in Long Pine Key, Everglades National Park.
Camping at Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park

Sibling Photo Shoot at the Nautilus Hotel Miami Beach

Sibling Photo Shoot at the Nautilus Hotel Miami Beach

Sibling Photo Shoot at the Nautilus Hotel Miami Beach
Siblings rooftop of south beach hotel
South Beach hotel rooftop photos
Nautilis by arlo rooftop photo shoot
Sibling Photo Shoot at the Nautilus Hotel Miami Beach
nautilus by Arlo Siblings

Sibling Photo Shoot at the Nautilus Hotel Miami Beach

It’s a rare occasion that these five siblings are together in one place. One of them was celebrating their birthday, so they gathered in Miami at the Nautilus by Arlo Hotel in South Beach. Their mom wanted photos of her five adult children and so I met them at their hotel. After taking a look at the rooftop of the hotel, we all agreed it was a perfect spot.

It was fairly quiet with not many people around. There was also just enough ambient light remaining from the sunset that you could still see the ocean in the background. I used my flash to illuminate them and was quite happy with the resulting images.

They were an energetic, fun and kind group of siblings to work with. Even though it was a short session, we had a blast!

See other photo shoots taken at the Nautilus by Arlo Hotel and all of the family photo sessions. To book a session, contact me or email info@tovaphotography.com.