Idaho Falls-based photographer, Cheri Hammon, had an unusual start in photography. After abandoning a career as a hairdresser due to allergies, she happened upon a job in a local photography studio.
“They put me in sales and I was terrible,” she says, laughing. “So the photographer who owns the studio asked me if I was interested in retouching.” From that moment on, she had found her passion.
Her Sunset Print Award-winning image, “Angels Bending Near the Earth,” also had a unique inception. “Normally, I get a feeling when I start a project and it sits in my head for a while and kind of cooks,” Hammon says. “But this is the only one I’ve ever done that just hit me all of a sudden.”
She was watching the Celtic Woman Christmas Special when she was hit with the inspiration for her image. “They sang ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,’ and there’s a verse in there that says ‘Angels bending near the earth,’” she says. “And I had this idea immediately, and sketched out the before image of this and created the final bit by bit.”
She considers the editing and photographing of an image as equally important steps in her creative process. “I think that the capture and retouching go hand-in-hand, and they’re kind of the same animal for me.”
Her studio, Art by Cheri, specializes in retouching, painting, hand-tinting and more. She is also one of only eight Certified Professional Photographers in the world who have been awarded all four Professional Photographers of America degrees.
Her inspiration usually comes from nature, and her proximity to parks such as Yellowstone allows a wealth of inspiring material. Additionally, Hammon has been participating in competitions since the mid-1990s, and recommends them to all photographers to fine tune and broaden skills.
“You’re doing something very wrong if you aren’t learning from each experience and each critique you get,” she says. “It’s impossible to not learn and grow – the most amazing learning experience I think we can have.”