I can still remember the little girl from Kansas City who loved to draw, color, paint, and take pictures. I knew I wanted to do something creative when I grew up. I continued to create, my parents signed me up for 4-H, my first camera was a little Kodak film camera. My parents upgraded my camera each Christmas. I remember making a shoebox camera in high school, and for the first time learning to develop film. I majored in Advertising, with a minor in Electronic Studio (Graphic Design) at Howard University. I took Photography as an elective. I started my career in graphic design for newspapers: Gannett, Stars & Stripes, The Washington Post, USA Today...I was still taking pictures on the side because I loved it. 

I discovered that visual storytelling is my passion, and found my purpose. I document history and democracy — telling the stories of people who are passionate in what they do, authentically, with my camera.

Cheriss May is a lauded portrait and editorial photographer based in Washington, D.C. She is a member of the Board of Directors — Focus on the Story, the immediate past president — Women Photojournalists of Washington (WPOW), co-chair of photography — The National Press Club, an Adobe Education Leader, and an adjunct professor at Howard University, her Alma Mater. She is often commissioned to speak about inclusive storytelling, and trains and speaks to organizations, and educators around the world, including: Spotify, Adobe, Leica, The Merck Group, the Center for Creative Photography, and the International Center of Photography.

Cheriss has been published in O Magazine, The White House website and archives, The New York Times, People magazine, ABC News, The Today Show, MSNBC, and other international publications. She has a traveling exhibition and forthcoming book, "Cheriss May Soul Connection", and her work is featured in a permanent exhibit: MFON's “In Conversation: Visual Meditations on Black Masculinity”, at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Cheriss has images highlighted in a BET social justice campaign: ‘Content for Change’.

Originally from Kansas City, Mo., Cheriss's passion radiates through her aptitude to connect to the soul of those she photographs. She is available for commissions, projects, unit stills for TV/film, and assignments. 

“Cheriss May Soul Connection”
— Leica Store Bellevue (Bellevue, Wa.) | Oct. 24 - Dec. 4, 2021
— Leica Gallery (Los Angeles, Ca.) | May 1 - Sept. 6, 2021

“Harriet's Wildest Dreams”
Eaton DC Hotel | Oct. 15 - April 1, 2022
“Eyes on Main Street”
— 7th Edition International Outdoor Photo Festival (Wilson, N.C.)
— Jeonju Photography Festival, South Korea
— Kuala Lumpur Photography Festival, Malaysia
— Pingyao International Photography Festival, Shanxi, China
October 30, 2021 – March 30, 2022

“Been Seen”
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture - The New York Public Library (New York, NY)
Part of the Photoville 10th Anniversary festival | Sept. 18 - Dec. 1, 2021
“Reaching for Justice”
Full Circle Fine Art Gallery (Baltimore, MD) | June 19-September 4, 2021

“In Conversation: Visual Meditations on Black Masculinity”
African American Museum (Philadelphia, PA.) | Oct 4, 2019 - Permanent Exhibit

FotoWeek DC
Women Photojournalists of Washington’s Annual Juried 2017 Photography Exhibition (Traveling exhibit - various locations) | 2017
• Board of Directors — Focus on the Story
• Immediate Past President — Women Photojournalists of Washington (WPOW) 
• Adobe Education Leader
• Co-chair Photo Committee — National Press Club (NPC)
• White House Press Pool
• U.S. Capitol Press Photographers

Photo of Cheriss May
Cheriss May   /   Photo by Gorden Campbell
Back to Top