Artist Spotlight: Photographer Courtney Cheatham
Through Her Lens
By Kelsey Johnson
When you come across one of Courtney Cheatham’s pictures, you are hit with a breathtaking and mesmerizing sight. You can feel the passion, see the beauty and dedication, and understand her message. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Courtney, or Co for short, moved around a lot while her mother served 20 years in the military. When she turned 21, a family friend handed Co a camera during a function and asked her to take a few candid pictures. “I remember her looking at the pictures I took and being impressed. After the event she told my dad that he needed to invest in a camera for me,” Co laughed and reminisces, “He didn’t buy that camera, but I borrowed my friends and found myself taking pictures of everything that little town in Texas had to offer.”
Roughly three years later, Co moved to Fayetteville and met new inspirational people that truly helped her perfect her craft.
Inspiration Is Everywhere
After moving to Fayetteville, Co was blown away by how the arts community welcomed her with open arms. “Everyone in this town is so inspirational. From photographers and videographers to painters and singers. The passion in Fayetteville is strong, which keeps me motivated. Many photographers here are so open to teach you new ideas and lend a hand whenever needed. It is beautiful and warming to see how we work together as a community to create art.”
Not only do the people of Fayetteville inspire her, but our town itself has so many hidden gems. “Fayetteville is so small,” Co expressed. “I could be riding around in my car and drive past the same tree 20 times, and one day it’ll look different. Automatically, I want to shoot there. You really have to work with what you have and pull the beauty out of concepts that others may not see at first.”
Passion for Shooting Women
When asked what she enjoyed shooting the most, Co’s voice perked up as she replied, “Women! You can do absolutely anything with a woman, and they are easy to connect with. My photography style is Fashion Editorial. I love piecing together outfits and taking the models through hair and makeup to make my vision come to life. It is rewarding at the end of the process to see the final pictures and the positive reactions of the women in them. I strive to empower whoever I’m shooting and make them feel beautiful, confident, and comfortable in their own skin. Self-love and self-confidence are valuable to me.”
But it was not always easy for her to get the perfect picture. Lighting, weather, and other elements can easily affect the outcome of a photo. “I have failed in many shoots where I end up not liking the final pictures. But after making many mistakes, I started learning how to avoid those errors. I can now confidently say I can shoot in any environment. It comes to show you can learn from your mistakes, it just takes time and patience. Do not give up.”
More than Meets the Eye
Photography is not Co’s only passion. If she is not behind her Pentax 645, you can find her being a full-time nanny. “I love kids. When I am with the kids I watch, I always bring my camera. I try to include art into their daily lives to show them there is more to life than just becoming a doctor or teacher. I think it is so important to introduce art to children to help them see our community in a different light.”
In the future, Co is hoping to hold photography classes for children to encourage creativity and teach them the beauty that can be seen through a camera. She is hoping to inspire the children of Fayetteville to step out of the box and do more than just the normal.
As for Co’s future, she is busy working on new projects. When asked what her future goals were, she eagerly responded, “While taking a trip to New York City, I found myself praying in the middle of Time Square. I really want my work to be on one of the billboards. I do not care if it takes me a lifetime to do it, I will achieve that goal!”
On top of that, Co would love to see her pictures in Essence Magazine. “Being a black woman and to be in a magazine that promotes black women, would be a dream come true. I will continue to work hard to reach my goals.” With so much passion, dedication, support, and talent, Courtney is ready to take to the photography world by storm.