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  • Cynthia August is a Portrait Photographer in Boston.

The color of travel

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.  (click here for 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.

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