It is fairly safe to assume that when I am asked to photograph children, families are hoping for that great image of their children all facing the camera with genuine smiles…perfect. And I work really hard to make sure we get that photograph. But, what I really love is all the interaction in between that tells the real story of the unique relationship between siblings. I love working with all types of sibling combinations, but there is something so special about photographing brothers. They are active, creative, full of energy, physical, without abandon…and when they really need to band together for the money shot, they get the job done.











Cheryl in Wonderland

Dear curious Alice could not help herself when she saw the White Rabbit dressed in a waist coat. She had to follow him just to be sure of herself. Poor Alice had no idea that when she peered into the rabbit hole she would find herself falling endlessly and landing in a place that would be so dreadful, delightful and filled with wonder.

I feel like I have fallen into my own Wonderland following the White Rabbit of my personal history. Without question, I knew that as an adoptee, choosing to access my original birth record would have me spiraling down a mysterious tunnel and meandering through a world that has simultaneously filled me with excitement and joy countered by fear and sadness.

Once I was able to see what was before me, names and faces I have never met (yet I resemble) in places I have known through other life experiences, I knew I needed to sort through this transition with paint. I set my camera aside, dusted off my easel and dragged out a blank canvas that had been in storage for five years. I had no idea what to paint. I had no images in mind so started by painting all 48 by 60 inches yellow.

I started at the bottom and worked my to half way through the canvas when I realized I had plenty of images I could place on the canvas. I opted to start at the beginning with an image related to my birth.


Why a painting in a photography site? Lately, my artistic heart has been spending a lot of time painting while my camera takes a little rest. I actually feel like my photography is benefiting from the break. Holding my camera is like reconnecting with a dear friend who also understands that as life changes so do our relationships with one another.

For now, painting is truly therapeutic as I move through this emotional adventure in my own version of Wonderland.


Winter (sort of) Hibernation (sort of)

Winter is generally a slow time for me and I rather like it that way (sort of). It’s not that I don’t like taking pictures in the winter, it’s more that I like working on my other creative interests, like knitting and painting. They are more cozy. And I get a chance to recover from the holidays and refocus on what I want to do next. It’s time to breathe…

But, we have not had much of a winter here in the Northeast. Just today it was 60 degrees and sunny and not a huge shock, because we have had so many days like this lately. This does make for some interesting picture taking opportunities.

Last week we had our first snow and string of below freezing days. Then the warm air returned. Snow and ice began to melt and created a beautiful mist over the pond nearby. After my morning coffee and a quick shoot with a local jeweler, I made a quick stop to get a few images of the pond and the neighborhood swans before the rain really came down. Good thing I stopped. The next day, the ice was gone, the sun was shining, and our brief encounter with winter was over…for now at least.

Willet Pond

Technically I live in the city. Not a city like New York, Boston, or even Providence, but it’s not quite the suburbs either. Like most cities there are green spaces, parks, and in our case the bay. There is also Willet Pond. When you drive by it ‘s almost a  blip, but if you slow down (or better yet stop), it’s a lovely little slice of nature. `

My children love the pond. They get to see frogs, bugs, birds, turtles, fish. We hike and collect sticks that become “fishing poles.” This past week we stopped on our way back from errands. As soon as we pulled up, a pair of swans swam over to the bank to have a closer look. And then closer and closer and closer….they were really close! The boys wanted to pet them, but of course I had to corral them away and explain that swans are large and sometimes angry birds! Once the boys settled down we just sat and watched each other. Then the swans sauntered back to the water and we started off on our walk.

They escorted us for a ways. When we stopped to watch each other a little more, I took a few pictures. This being one of them.

Majestic and handsome. Floating quietly in a small city.

Willet Pond is right across from the Providence Coffee Roasters plaza. If you come by on Thursday, you might catch a glimpse of our friends…


Somehow we transitioned from Summer to Winter without much time to savor the Fall.

I love snow, but…

Having scheduled a few client sessions this weekend, I was hoping that there would be enough snow to give us a nice wintery, holiday look, minus the wet, windy cold. As luck would have it, Sunday morning was beautiful. Maybe a bit too beautiful. there is nothing like snow and bright sunshine to cause all kinds of harsh lighting situations to work around.

These same lighting issues that can make portraits a challenge make landscape delightful. Gorgeous shadows. Fall foliage against the darkened lines of tree trunks and branches that have been dampened, frozen, and thawed. And no time to stop and play! I had a family birthday party to head off to.

As I was driving  past the boat yard, I had to stop. The boats were anchored and bobbing in the sunlight, stacked and covered in snow on their racks, but alas the shots weren’t right. I pulled out and got about ten more feet down the road when I saw this winter resting area for more boats.

This quintessential symbol of Summer layered with what is a quintessential symbol of Winter. Something about these hibernating boats made me realize that even though Summer (and now Fall) had passed me by, I still had winter to look forward to.

And that summer will in fact return before we know it.

Enough About Me.

I love this photograph. I didn’t take it. It was taken by Toronto based photographer and musician Emma-Lee.

This image captures Toronto based musician/ producer Oliver Johnson and musician/ performer, Layah Jane.

The first time (and every time since) I saw Layah and Oliver play,  the connection they made together on stage was  captivating. The perfect blend of their vocal harmonies, guitar melodies and rhythms, Layah’s voice

But, what was truly mesmerizing was watching was how they interacted with one another visually and Energetically.

This image captures an authentic nuance of that unique dynamic.

Five years later they are even more seasoned. They are fine tuned award winning professionals. Their sophistication and soul is complimented by a playfulness that makes me smile out loud just writing about it…

You need to to see them play. You need to hear their music. It’s divine.

I am pleased to announce that they will be playing here in Riverside, Rhode Island on Thursday, November 17 beginning at 6:00PM at Providence Coffee Roasters as a part of their “After Hours” events (click my Events tab to read the details).

Come by for a great cup of organic fair trade coffee, fabulous music and art with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Waddington Elementary Arts and Culture Fund.

By the way…I am honored to reveal that Oli and Layah are family

Tiny Prints Deal

For those of you who shop any of the many limited time sale sites like Zulily, Totsy, and Haute Look (there are hundreds of these sites), sometimes there are good deals to be found. You might wait weeks for your purchases to arrive, but when they do, rest assured you can glow with bargain hunter’s pride!

Today on Zulily one of the deals of the day is a a$40.00 voucher for $20.00 towards holiday card orders at Tiny Prints. Tiny Prints is the premium photo card site that (accurately) boasts beautiful designs printed on high quality papers. They produce a gorgeous product…of course, you pay a premium price for it.

With this voucher  Tiny Prints  more affordable (similar in price range to their high volume photo lab competitors) and you receive a holiday photo card that  recipients will treasure.

So if you have a short run of cards or simply want to have high quality beautifully designed cards, check out this deal at Zulily!

And I know a photographer who can take a high quality image to place on your cards….

This Is What I Am Thinking…

When I decided I wanted to change my business name and use my name, I think I was doing some framing and signing a matte. I thought, “How cool would it be if I had a name seal to stamp this?” (Aaahhhh)

In my daughter’s libray, we have a book titled The Name Jar, by Yangsook Choi. It tells the story of a young girl whose family has recently moved to New York from Korea and she wants to choose an American name to use in school, because she is concerned her new friends will have difficulty pronouncing her Korean name. Entwined throughout the story are some of the naming customs in Korean culture and the tradition of using a Dojang or Korean Name Seal. I have always been drawn to the graphic style and beauty of these hand carved stamps.

I started researching name seals and tried to figure out how to design one myself, but

I am not a graphic designer.

I repeat.

I am not a graphic designer.

It was time to consult a professional. So I got in touch with my friend Jason Carreiro who is the designerd of Loop Design in Dumbo, New York. I have known Jay since third grade. We went to elementary school, middle school, and high school together, and then wound up at the same university (in the art department no less).

But, he studied to  graphic design (among other mediums) which combined with his intuitive, innate talent has made him one finest (and rather humble) of professional designers.

That is why I have a killer new logo design. I basically told him what I was thinking and gave him an extremely crude rendition that he developed into exactly what I wanted. Clean, contemporary, distinct, branding.

Thank you, Jay!

More about Jay (from the Loop Design site)

Jason Carreiro , Designerd© and Smart Director™ For Hire.

Jason is widely regarded as the best designer in Brooklyn by his mom and several close friends. Prior to starting Loop Design, Jason was the Design Director at the New York office of Delirium Corp. He has over fifteen years of professional experience, designing projects for Walt Disney, Planet Hollywood, The Rockwell Group, The Boston Bruins, Condé Nast Publishing and Ann Taylor, to name a few.

Jason has a framed Bachelor’s Degree, 78,986 fonts, and a pair of nerdy black glasses —so clearly, he’s well qualified to assist with your next big creative project. His work has been included in a variety of design books and periodicals including, The End of Print: The Graphic Design of David Carson, which has sold 200,000 copies, was translated into five languages, and is the most successful graphic design book in the world (seriously, Google it).

Jason recently taught a semester of Typography for Illustrators with professor Noel Claro at Parsons The New School For Design. In his spare time, he enjoys long walks on the beach, baking alphabet-shaped scones, and writing about himself in the third person.

Weekend Favorites

What a spectacular weekend for being outside in some of my favorite places in the Providence area…

These are some of favorites from various sessions, some scheduled, some not. My favorites are not usually the ones that you will find on the holiday card, but the ones you take in between trying to get your subjects to create the that (almost) perfect image.

Sometimes getting one child to sit still and smile (a real smile) can be a challenge, but getting three or more…I know. I have three kids of my own. There is always one in bunch who no matter what they are doing, what face they are making, you simply never want to toss an image.

Sometimes parents are reluctant to join in during a session. What I love about photographing this family is they interact so natural with each other throughout the session, that I end up with (literally) hundreds of images of an entire family. It’s as if I just happened to bump into to them and took an opportunity to document their Sunday morning at the park. At the end of the session, the kids were done with me (as they always are), so I asked the parents to stop and let me get a quick shot of just them. And then of course, someone (I thought was done) wanted to join in!

I love my niece. She is a whirlwind of energy entwined with quiet pensive moments…a delight to observe. Typical of an almost 7 year-old, she is either running away from me or dramatically posing when I get my gear out. If I hang around long enough, she gets bored with me and then I can take pictures at will and capture some of the quiet moments. But not this one. She’s on the run playfully trying to escape…I was almost fast enough!

But what about Shotmama?

After much deliberation, I have decided to part ways with my business name/pseudonym, Shotmama.

Drum roll please….introducing

Cheryl Adams Johnson Photography

Why? It feels more personal and more professional. It links me, the artist/ photographer with my work. It flows better. It is how I sign my work. I don’t need to hide behind the brand. With humbleness, I have become the the brand.

ShotMama was meant to be fun, a little campy, and not too serious. It has certainly served me well. Having a name other than my own felt safe and helped me build confidence and get comfortable shooting professionally again. It also gave me time to decide whether or not to use my maiden name, married name, or both.

Rebranding feels like a monumental task. New logo, collateral, web presence… Please bear with me as I complete the change over. While I am creating my new website with fun features that will make viewing and purchasing my work easier, you can find me here.

Thank you for your continued support!