We had the good fortune of connecting with Cheyanne Witter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cheyanne, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
While I was growing up, I never really felt like I had a specific passion for anything. I liked to doodle random things and play video games, but as for a career, I really had no idea what I was going to do and I honestly didn’t even think that much about it. When I got into high school, I was required to take at least two “art” credits in order to graduate, so for some reason I just randomly decided to take the one photography class that my school had as well as a set design class that my school’s theatre had. Both of these were horribly underfunded because nobody at that school really cared much about art, but I ended up having a pretty nice time despite that. I took all my pictures for my photography class on my phone because I didn’t actually have a real camera. But, somehow, my photography teacher really liked my stuff and suggested I enter into some local contests where I actually placed a few times. I kind of just accidentally discovered that I liked creating things and that I had some potential in these fields. After high school I decided to go to Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota Florida. I’m sure it probably sounds weird but I genuinely didn’t even think that much about the idea of pursuing a career in the arts. I just sort of fell in love with it and became obsessed after my experiences in high school and decided I had to go with it. I’m at the point now where I don’t really have a plan B, which is terrifying, but I honestly can’t think of anything else that I like doing or that I would want to spend my time working on. Nothing else has every really interested me as much as the process of imagining a cool looking image or idea in my head and then trying to figure out how to make it into a reality.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I mainly do photography and videography, but most of the work that I’ve created I’ve actually also modeled in myself. So I’ll set up my camera, I’ll decide on the set or the location, set up the lighting, turn on the camera and then walk on set and shoot pictures or videos of myself. Sometimes if I have a friend whose available then I’ll get somebody to help me with certain things, which is always great, but for the most part I just figure stuff out on my own. Because of that, I think it usually takes me a bit longer to shoot things, but I like to be able to have creative freedom over the whole process. I also edit all of my own stuff, both photos and videos, so I have some experience with Photoshop and After Effects. I’d love to be able to work on a team with other artists in the future, but I also do really enjoy the process of coming up with a cool looking idea in my head and then trying to put all the pieces together to make it come out like what I was imagining. It’s really difficult, but super rewarding if I manage to do it right. I’d say that I do a lot of fashion photography and fashion film-esque work. I also have some experience with things like portraiture, product photography, and cityscapes, but I love the fashion and media industries so a lot of my work revolves around that.
Sometimes I also create clothing pieces or accessories for my shoots. Once, I made a dress out of two crappy polyester curtains and some plastic clothes hangers and then modeled it for a final project piece for one of my classes. I also got the chance to collaborate with another photography student, Gaby Maulfair, for her thesis project for which she gave me three different dresses and let me do whatever I wanted to them. I cut them all up and sewed them together into one dress and then modeled it for a shoot, which was crazy. And then I’ve also made a couple small things like headpieces and what not.
Through my classes, I’ve been able to do some modeling for other students at Ringling too, which is always fun.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m currently still in Sarasota Florida, so some of my favorite things around here would be the Ringling Museum, the Sarasota Art Museum, and the Selby Botanical Gardens. The Ringling Museum actually has a nice café and a little restaurant too, which both have some nice stuff. I don’t personally go to the beach very often, but Siesta Key beach is pretty popular as well, and they have lots of little shops and things to do in the area.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I recently graduated from Ringling College with a Bachelors of Arts in Visual Studies and minors in Photography & Digital Imaging and Business of Art & Design. I know I could have never done that if it wasn’t for all of the help and support I received from the faculty and staff, especially my teacher Claudia Cumbie-Jones, as well as my friends Tara, D, Christen, Thalia, and my little sister Haylee.