Where are they now? Jocelyn Augustino '89

December 20, 2015

Jocelyn Augustino

Jocelyn works as a freelance photographer in Washington, DC. We asked her a few questions about her exciting career.

What was your major at Simmons and what is your current job title?

International Relations and Political Science. I am a Professional Photographer.

What is a typical photo shoot like for you?

There is no typical photo shoot. Every day is really different and for me, that keeps things interesting. I made a decision when I moved to Washington, DC to pursue a variety of clients. I didn't only shoot portraits or only editorial or only events...I tried to mix it up.  One day I can be shooting portraits of a famous author or artist for The Guardian newspaper in London, the next I may be doing a portrait or event at the White House or on Capitol Hill for a publication, the next day I may be hired to take photographs for the International Association of Fire Fighters or Planned Parenthood or some other organization. Or, I can be called with little notice to jump on a plane to go photograph a natural disaster for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Every day is different and I never know what’s around the corner, so that keeps things interesting.  

What is your favorite part of your job?

Meeting new people and hearing their stories. For me, taking photographs is like reading a book, but I get to hear the story live and ask the questions. I think that everyone shares a common bond. Be it the type of ice cream that they like, their favorite Boston Red Sox player, or maybe it’s a place you’ve both traveled. So for me, meeting new people and trying to form a connection and make them feel comfortable on the other side of the lens is a large part of my job.

What was your “ah ha!” moment that made you want to take up photography?

My junior year at Simmons was spent overseas in France and when the program was finished, I wanted to extend my stay through the summer so my excuse was to take a photography class through a program with Parson’s School of Art in Design in Paris.

Although I had always had an interest in photography after taking the class, I approached the professor and asked if I was out of my mind to try and pursue photography.  As you can imagine, most people who take a photography class dream of becoming a photographer, it all sounds so deceivingly glamorous. My professor encouraged me by telling me that I had a great eye but to keep in mind that the choice to move forward in the industry would never be easy. I like challenges so somehow that message really resonated.

When I returned to Simmons for my senior year I took a photo documentary class with Vaughn Sills and towards the end of the semester she assigned everyone a health related project. My assignment was a photo documentary on a person living with AIDS. That documentary project sealed the deal.

If you could come back and take one class at Simmons what would it be?

Communications with Bob White.

How did Simmons help prepare you for your career?

Simmons gave me a sense of confidence, which was not based on gender. It took being intimidated by men out of the equation in a very distinct way.

What are some challenges you’ve faced in your career?

Oddly enough, one of the challenges has also been a blessing and that's being a woman. Photography is a very male dominated profession. For example, when you go photograph something at the White House you are in a press pool with other members of the media. Among the photographers there are typically 1 woman for every 10 men.  At the same time, I think being a woman has helped me in a lot of situations where I might be a little more disarming than a man, especially in the situations where I may be one of the only women in the mix, such as when I am shooting some of disaster work with the Urban Search and Rescue teams.

Photography is all about capturing emotion. What is the most moving photo you’ve ever taken?

There's a photo that has stuck in my mind for most of my life and that was at the beginning of my career when I was working for my hometown newspaper after spending time overseas. It was an early Saturday morning and there was a fire at a tenement building. I had been working around the local firefighters for a while so they knew me. One of them told me to keep my eye on a side door as there was going to be a fire fighter coming out with two children. I prepared myself, I focused my lens, and I waited, and waited. Finally the door burst open and a firefighter came out and took off his mask and he was on his hands and knees. I took one frame, then another, then the fire fighter looked up at me and I took a final frame...I could see it in his eyes. I took one more frame and stopped shooting. There were no kids in his arms; they had both died in the fire.

Who is your favorite photographer? Why?

Margaret Bourke-White. She was a woman before her time. Bourke-White was the first female war correspondent and the first woman to be allowed to work in combat zones during World War II.  Bourke-White was one of the first female photojournalists for Life magazine in 1936. She was an amazing photographer and was really excelling in a career where few women existed.

What’s the most rewarding part of your work?

Knowing that I am creating a visual history of events that will last well beyond my years.

What’s your next big photo shoot coming up?

My next photo shoot is with Prince Ali of Jordan who is running for President of FIFA. The Prince is doing some press events in Washington, DC and I have been hired to be his photographer.

More on Jocelyn Augustino '89

Jocelyn will be holding an exhibit of her photos in her hometown of Gardner, MA, now through the end of January 2016, at the Heywood Memorial Library. The exhibit is a look at the vintage cars on the streets of Havana, Cuba. The images combine elements to connect the cars with the surrounding architecture to draw the viewer into the landscape of a city seemingly stuck in another era. You can also view some of her amazing work on her website