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 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 of Women Photojournalists of Washington (WPOW), co-chair of photography at 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 Camera, The Merck Group, the Center for Creative Photography, and the International Center of Photography.
Cheriss has been published in O Magazine, The White House Historical Association, The New York Times, Bloomberg, Time, ABC News, The Today Show, MSNBC, and other international publications. She has a solo exhibition at Black Rock Center for the Arts in Maryland, of photographs exploring the intersection of race, politics, and protest, in the wake of the national reckoning on racial injustice. Her work is featured in a permanent exhibit: MFON's “In Conversation: Visual Meditations on Black Masculinity”, at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, displayed in an exhibit: "Come Together, Right Now: The Art of Gathering" at the Chrysler Museum of Art, in Norfolk, Va., and she 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, and assignments.
MEMBER: Board of Directors — Focus on the Story, Immediate Past President — Women Photojournalists of Washington (WPOW), Co-chair Photo Committee — National Press Club (NPC), Diversify Photo, Black Women Photographers, Women Photograph, The Authority Collective, National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), White House News Photographers Association (WHNPA), White House Press Pool, Press Photographers’ Gallery — U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, The Exposure Group, Professional Photographers of America (PPA), Sistagraphy