Artist Spotlight Series: Margaret Cheatham Williams

I have a treat for the photography aficionados complete with an invitation the the show opening tomorrow. 

This artist is wildly talented with an exceptional resume and my latest Artist Spotlight Series feature. 

Enjoy getting to know

Margaret Cheatham Williams 

San Francisco, California 

What is your training? 

I graduated from the photojournalism program at UNC Chapel Hill… I had dabbled in film during my years of summer camp, but had virtually no idea I would set out for a career in photography until I was exposed to the work of a babysitter, who would coincidentally become my boss at The New York Times! I was a photojournalist and documentary film producer there for about 7 years, before I moved to San Francisco with my husband and launched Moxie’s Daughter. I created a series of stories about motherhood and parenting, which was by far my most loved work. 


What inspires you and your designs?

My education in journalism runs deep – Most of my work is documentary in nature, in the sense that I like to capture things as I come across them. I am toying with more portraiture, but predominantly my works is found imagery with my interpretation. I tend to lean towards a romantic view of decaying structure and colorful characters. I have a thing for vintage cars, as my dad is a car dealer and I am inspired by the work of early photographers like William Eggleston. 

What is your favorite piece? 

This is a tough one – I’d have to say this photograph of this child we passed on our way to California. He was practicing the French Horn in the driveway as his sister played basketball. I did a double take and had my husband turn around as quickly as possible. 

How has your area influenced your work?

Moving to the Bay Area has vastly expanded my appreciation for outdoor photography and the expansive landscapes of the west. My husband and I have driven across the country twice with our dog in tow, and we love to camp along the way – This allows me to stop and explore many areas that I may not stumble upon otherwise. 

What is your favorite restaurant in San Francisco?

That’s an EXCELLENT question, and I can’t wait to find out. We moved to SF in September, and immediately I was back in New York for work. Then came a stint on the East Coast, and then Covid. Flour and Water comes to mind,

as does Robin, a Omakase sushi place we went for my birthday. It was absolutely amazing, and I discovered my new favorite vineyard.

What is your favorite cocktail?

I’d say a gin martini, extra cold, extra olives. 

 How do you balance personal life and work?

Balance? I think I left The New York Times with the expectation that my time was now my own. I had traveled extensively for stories, especially in the last year or so of my position, and was exhausted. I had these grand visions of time off spent with family, but I immediately had a documentary project come up that I knew I had to be a part of. It has been a tremendous venture to launch a business in a new state, during a pandemic, but it has given me an enormous opportunity for work. I am home far more often, which means pushing myself to be in the studio, but also balancing the endless administrative tasks of running a company. I take the mornings for myself, I walk and listen to a podcast while I drink coffee. I try to commit to evenings off, but I often work while my husband watches TV. I cherish my friends that are now spread all over the US, so we make time to visit as often as we can, and we travel home to see our families very regularly. It’s quite the perk that travel for me is often the greatest inspiration! We don’t have children, but I can imagine that would add a dimension!

Dream trip?

India! Hands down. I have traveled more than my fair share and much time in South America and South East Asia for work, but I long for the extremely colorful surroundings and tapestries of India. 


Dream commission?

Hard to say, I’d imagine it would be someone I admire a great deal and respects photography. 


Your favorite host / hostess gift to give?

I am a serious sucker for the types of luxury items I covet, but don’t generally buy as gifts. Candles are a no brainer, but I also love the flower and pasta selection at our farmers market. The poppy this spring were an easy choice, as well as the homemade tapenade. For something slightly more involved, I generally choose a photography book or a hand towel by Coral and Tusk. 


Who is your style icon?

My mom consistently comes to mind, but as I have aged I have evolved into a slightly more colorful and dare I say, hipster, version? 

Your favorite up and coming artist?

I’d definitely say Ashley Johnson (@hiaj) or David EsquivelAshley’s photography is striking and captures the south in a manner that I find completely captivating.

David is young and I adore his playful use of color. 


What is your most treasured possession?

My engagement ring, which was my husband’s grandmother’s. She died when he was young, and left it to his future wife. Also, my Tony Hernandez gifted to me by my mother on our wedding day. It’s an encaustic of a little boy with a medium format camera, not unlike the one I bought for myself on Ebay many years ago. 

What are you reading?

A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit

+ The Torture Letters by Dr. Laurence Ralph 

What are you listening to?

If I’m being totally honest, the only answer is Taylor Swift’s Folklore. I think the songwriting is genius, and I am a tremendous fan of Bon Iver, who partnered with her on a few tracks. It’s incredibly soothing to have something that feels almost monotonous at this point, as I counter the stress of opening a gallery, Covid, etc.

Also, can’t get enough of The Daily and Pod Save America. I am doing my best to keep my news consumption to a set amount in the mornings, or on walks.

What are your favorite blogs / publications?

I spend a great deal of time reading The Atlantic and The Times, for obvious reasons. I love Instagram, and spend entirely too much time scrolling, I am currently loving what Wit + Delight is doing with her new home. It is inspiring to see her work with the space as it came. 


If you are in Charlotte be sure to go see the show and follow Margaret on Moxie’s Daughter and Instagram.

Here is the invitation to her show TODAY in Charlotte.

A few favorite’s from her portfolio:

Daily Desires:

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