Chasing Light Artistic Tools for Creatives

Photographer Spotlight for June - Cheryl Walsh

Nikki HarrisonComment


You are an amazing Artist, your images are breath taking, whimsical, story telling.. all the things that make my heart happy. How do you continue to switch things up to tell a different story every time?

Thank you for telling me that my work makes your heart happy.  Selfishly, I started it to make my heart happy when it wasn’t but I’m thrilled that it has resonated with so many people.   I want to create work that adds a little beauty to a sometimes ugly world and tells a story that can help you escape even if it’s for just a few minutes.  While my images tend to be light and pretty, the story they are telling is often heavy and dark.  I wanted to create something that would cheer me up.  Inspiration comes from everywhere, including the wonderful artists I collaborate with. The models and mermaid tails, crowns, gowns, faerie wings, wigs, swords and those artist’s own stories all help me find my voice.  I have a fairly new piece that is a retelling of the Syrian story of Atargatis, the first mermaid.  Most tales and legends, like the Roman and Greek gods and goddesses, were passed down by men, like Homer.  My perspective is that there might be another side to the story, perhaps the women’s version of the story that is quite different from the version we’ve heard. For every broken heart there is usually two sides of the story.  I’m looking to tell that other version of the story.  That’s far more interesting to me.  

What started you down the road of underwater photography as an artform?  

It’s all about the process and experience of being underwater.  In the water I’m not distracted by other people in the studio.  It’s quiet, there’s no bright light, everything moves in slow-motion and the colors are more vibrant and saturated.  I can’t think of a better environment to create in.  It’s so peaceful that I don’t even have to breathe.


I think you and I started printing around the same time, you print large format and market to interior decorators to sell your pieces to their clients. How is that going? 

I recently sold a series of mermaid images to a gentleman who is on the Forbes billionaires list.  The art has been installed on his yacht and he and his wife are thrilled to have magical images to enjoy.  I’ve done very well using Kickstarter to sell prints rather than having a traditional online store.  That way I know how many prints to make and can do it all at once.  Honestly one of my biggest problems is that I really don’t know what I want to do.  I’m doing well enough that I can keep doing what I’m doing while figuring out what my end-game is.  My work doesn’t fit into the traditional fine art photography world and yet I’m not sure if I want to be selling at a table at Comic-Con (where I love buying art directly from artists every single year). My life is in transition and I can’t see my future clearly so it’s hard to make a decision about what I really want.  So right now I’m focusing that angst into my work and creating.  It was always very important to me that I do my own printing so I’m creating my own work. Making a great print always eluded me until this past year when I met a print master, Eric Joseph of Freestyle Photographic.  He changed my life in a matter of minutes.  I had done every single thing I was supposed to do to create a good print but I always failed.  That feeling of failing at printing made me feel like a total failure as an artist. I went to his office in Hollywood, gave him a usb with one of the images I couldn’t print, he put it in his computer, made one single print and handed me the most beautiful print I’d ever seen.  All I could do was cry.  He taught me what a really great print is and how to create it.  He is the only person I’ve ever met who teaches the art of printing in a way that I could completely understand and do it myself.  It really is life changing.   I have been studying under him ever since.  Even though I’ve seen plenty of great quality prints, especially at WPPI print competition, I didn’t really know what made a great print great.  For reasons that I will never understand, he doesn’t charge for his classes so the knowledge is there for anyone who wants it.


I feel like there is a resurgence of art as a culture in Western Culture. More and more people are following their heart and soul and creating. Do you have an opinion as to why this is happening?  

I think it’s always been going on.  We are more exposed to it because of social media. I’m thrilled that I get to see the work of so many amazing artists from around the world.  That brings me so much joy.  Our world is getting smaller due to technology and that makes each of us a little bigger and more important in the world.  Sharing art is an act of kindness and I’m grateful to be part of that world.

Do you market yourself, or do you have someone doing that for you? 

I post my work to Facebook and Instagram and that’s all I do. I don’t even do it regularly.  Not a great business model!  But until I know what it is I want then that’s all I’m going to do right now.  I have enough worries and problems without creating more anxiety for myself.  Right now is the time for me to create and make as much art as I can.

What would you say, has been your largest hurdle, in becoming one of the most creative and  amazing underwater artist’s today?  

It took me years to fully understand the science of underwater photography and get it all dialed in.  I didn’t want to have to deal with it but once I accepted that this is both a science and an art I was able to make great strides in controlling what I am able to create.  No one stands in my way more than I do.  I can be really awful to me.  I think that’s pretty common for artists – we are our worst critics and saboteurs. 


Where do you see yourself in five years?  Cliché, I know, but people are very interested in where you are headed.  

I can’t see more than one year at a time and even that is sketchy. I thought I had my life all worked out but my path has changed and now I’m just rolling with it. My focus is on creating new and interesting work that fulfills me.  I have a creative project scheduled for this summer that I’m really excited about. It’s super-secret so I can’t share any details but it’s all I can think about right now.  The way I see it, I have a long way to go before I’m really very good at what I do and that just takes hours and hours of practice.  So my goal is to get more practice in.  I’m planning on getting a pool heater so I can practice in my off season.

If there was one thing you could say to your younger, just starting out self, what would that be?  

Calm the f* down!!  Stop worrying and just do.  It doesn’t matter if your work sucks.  It will never get better if you don’t actually physically do it.  Sit your ass on the bottom of that pool and start by practicing holding your breath for as long as you can.  Baby steps are just as important as the big stuff.  You can’t learn anything by worrying about it. Just do.

Where can people find/follow you Cheryl?






BIO: In an overwhelmingly chaotic world, Southern California based underwater fine art portrait artist Cheryl Walsh finds her inspiration in an atmosphere of peaceful solitude.  In the depths of her underwater studio, she works with the quiet currents that slow down time, bring vibrancy to colors, and leave her subjects virtually weightless.  The liquid atmosphere, invisible but ever present in the reflection on the water’s surface, is a mirroring of the duality that personifies life.  Her underwater portrait fine art photography is described alternately as old-world painterly and photo-realistic, traditional and surreal. Combining the science of working underwater with the art of photography, she utilizes vintage and avant-garde fashion on dancers, models and clients to tell a dream-like story in each of her fine art series. Along with her Southern California based Fine Art photography, Cheryl runs a successful High School Senior portrait business, AltSenior Photography.


Thanks so much for contributing to our community! Thank you so much for having me J I’m honored to be included in a group of such hard working creative people.