Vision In Focus » I am a photographer specializing in Advertising, Portrait, Fashion and Commercial Photography. This is my journal.

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  • Cynthia August is a Portrait Photographer in Boston.

Over the summer I spent a week taking (at least) one portrait a day as an exercise in observation and connection.

I think about taking people’s portraits a lot, so trying to get out of my own way on this topic and see things in a new light is a bit like trying to learn a different way to walk. But the fact that it is so close to my most instinctive self is arguably the exact reason I have to shake things up.

So I posted a note on Facebook and invited folks to take a slot, first come, first serve. One a day. Filling the week took about 45 minutes. Beyond that, the rules were simple. We agreed on a place. The subject brought themselves in whatever manner they chose, and I shot.

It got kinda complex from there.

There’s seeing, and seeing. The second one, the trickier one requires patience and, well, flow. A key element of great portraiture is being able to quiet the ‘pictures are being taken!’ energy and tune instead into the deep essence of the subject. To see the person in front of you, and then create the image. That’s challenging work that you simply cannot phone in.

Silences happen. Awkward silences happen. Shots don’t work and your subject can tell. In the midst of trying to keep the energy good, you may accidentally stomp all over it. The camera can intimidate instead of inspire. The list of ways to de-rail is endless. But so are the ways back in. And my job is to be awake and aware of the person in front of me so that I can continually bring us back to their individual spirit.

Phoebe and Egg Etsy Feature Shot

Wheeeee! Yup, that’s the sentiment here at the studio this week!

One of our absolute favorite clients, Phoebe&Egg, was an Etsy feature. It was absolutely well-deserved. Gorgeous handmade dolls, soft and sweet and absolutely perfect.

I’ve been working on this joyful branding with Lisa, the owner and creator of Phoebe&Egg for a few years now, and it has been a fantastic ride. Lisa is extremely visual and has a real knack for dreaming things into reality – so understanding her was easy from the very start! And on top of that, her ideas are so, so lovely. An added plus has been her love of sewing and materials  – beautiful wool, magic yarns, calico prints, trim, buttons…sigh! When she redesigned her work space I about swooned.

Who wouldn’t want to sew here?


A captivating workspace at Phoebe&Egg


Each doll is lovingly, cheerfully handmade. A purchase is made even more bright and joyful by the magic it creates – not only are little hands encouraged to sew with basic patterns from Lisa, but for every doll purchased, a doll is given to a child in need.

I am honored to document Phoebe&Egg’s journey. I hope you take the time to visit both her website and her Etsy feature!

Congrats, Lisa!

I lived in NYC for years, so I have a real love of the big city and all it offers. But I grew up in a small town.

Moving to the north shore of Boston might make diehard cityfolk blanch, but I felt right at home the second I set foot here in Ipswich. It, like my own hometown, combines the charm of a small community with the urbanity that comes from being a quick train trip away from the city.

Living here has worked out just wonderfully for my photography. Here’s a great example. This series of shots needed to have both a city feel and a leisure aspect. We accomplished both just steps from the studio. And no parking woes!

Priscilla is a fabulous model from Maggie Inc, a real sweetheart to work with! We had a long, lovely day creating these images.




Whenever I am lucky enough to travel, I am inevitably caught up in the perspective shift that comes from a change of surroundings. I think we all are if we consider it. Even expected things, like different sheets on a different bed or the smell of hotel soap contributes to the phenomena.

For me personally, this shift is often the most profound, and most memorable, in the collection of things.

Sorry if that all sounds weirdo cerebral. Let me try to explain.

When I travel, I strip down to the bare essentials to go with. I am easy to addle when I am on the road, and so I find that moving with a simple, logical bag of just what’s needed makes it way less stressful for me to go from place to place. I reach into one of two small bags, in one of two small pockets, and find my phone, ticket and passport. If it is there, we’re set. If not, worry. I rarely worry.

This kind of spartan behavior is in direct contrast to my daily life. I am a bower bird.  (bower bird behavior for the uninitiated) If it is pretty and shiny and has some spiritual/emotional/aesthetic/made-up value, it gets a special spot in my ‘bowers’. As a result my home has a lot of places where things are collected and arranged. If you get me. Not messy.  Just, well, curated. And think Victoria and Albert museum rather than MOMA.

So. When I travel with my slate clean so to speak, I still curate. I can’t help it. When I engaged in this behavior in my youth, I’d come home broke, with an extra bagful of bizarre things plucked from my journey. Trouble was, they had fit beautifully and significantly in my temporary home but in my actual home they lost much of their vibrant energy. The whole idea of appreciating things by leaving them where you found them grew in its logic, and so I changed my technique of collecting. Every trip now produces a series of images that really have no ‘vacation picture’ value but are treasures to me nonetheless.

Color, energy, connection, attraction. Bower bird in action.

Here in Boston, we’ve had more than the usual amount of snow. The pile outside my door is easily 5 and a half feet and growing. The plow guy comes around daily. I can’t remember what a sidewalk looks like. My daily outfit consists of snow pants.

Never the less, we managed to create a little snowy fantasy for you all last weekend. Using my friend and client Lisa Cantalupo’s designs, and two wonderful and well matched models we both adore, Lisa and I came up with this “Hunt of the Heart” (Working title – I’m lousy at naming things!). We love it. Hope you do too.

Look for a longer note about the shoot day later. For now, just enjoy our story.


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  • aaron t - I’m loving these awesome pics here. I like the concept of man and woman working together as one against the elements.ReplyCancel