Entering the university as a professional master of business administration student, Chad Finley quickly learned that was not the major for him. Since then, his program of choice has helped him establish a successful career.
Finley, 26, was born and raised in West Palm Beach, Fla. His decision to attend Florida A&M University was influenced by the institution being his favorite HBCU, the Marching “100” and the School of Business and Industry’s curriculum.
After realizing he didn’t enjoy business, Finley made an academic advising appointment to weigh his options. “Graphic design was number one, so I went for it,” Finley said.
Since changing his major, Finley graduated in the spring of 2008 with a minor in photography. Chad Finley Photography, his company, provides photography services, photo retouching, model consulting, portfolio building and mentoring.
Shirelle Clark, a fourth-year nursing student from Bainbridge, Ga., had the chance to work with Finley and loved her final product.
“He brought my vision to life and gave me exactly what I asked for,” Clark said. “My father still has his design on display in his office and receives compliments on it daily.”
Working and living in cities such as Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Tallahassee has been beneficial to his portfolio. Finley has had the opportunity to provide services for the U.S. Army and have photos in magazines, including Vibe, XXL and Sister 2 Sister.
He has also provided services for USA Today and television networks such as BET, Bravo, Lifetime and TV One, as well as Ford Models and Wilhelmina Models among other projects.
Life as a mainstream photographer and Rattler has provided Finley with opportunities to meet various celebrities. Clients include rap group Travis Porter, reality TV star Lisa Wu, fashion designer Reco Chapple, R&B recording artist D. Woods and “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” cast member Lil’ Scrappy.
“Shooting Cynthia Bailey from “Real Housewives of Atlanta” for Flawless Magazine was one of the craziest days on set – but we had a ball,” Finley said.
His most memorable shoot was with Kelly Price, an R&B singer, on his birthday. His staff surprised him with a cake and Price sang happy birthday to him.
Five years from now, Finley sees himself continuing to work and live in Los Angeles and New York, but adding music video and commercial directing to his resume. Antonio Williams, a fourth-year professional MBA student from Frankford, Del., said working with Finley was a great experience because he took the time out to collaborate with him via Skype so he could have input.
Finley’s collegiate experience and education has laid a foundation for his business venture. His clientele is growing as his seasonal nationwide shoots travel from city to city.
His portfolio can be viewed at www.chadfinley.net