How did I end up here? Wow, that’s a loaded question. Recently, I’ve had many inquire about how I ended up doing photography & design. This question has come from those who’ve known me in other occupational roles as well as those who’ve come across my blog & are simply curious.
So… for those who are interested, I wanted to let you in on my life to this point. This picture kind of symbolizes my life up to this point (plus, every post is better with a pic!), I call it, “A Choice to Make, ” [taken inside an old crusader’s castle dating back to the 1200’s, Nimrod’s Fortress, in the northern Golan Heights in Israel].
I was born in Huntsville, AL in ’80 to the wonderful Ralph & Carol Finch, 3 years behind my unbelievably responsible & supportive big sister Amy. We lived in Guntersville, AL until around ’84 when my dad followed his job with TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) to the hills of East TN. I was always drawn to creative things… when I learned to write, I began developing handwritten fonts (btw, I’m such a typography nerd… if I see a business whose logo or promotional material I don’t like, I can’t convince myself to shop there. I once canceled my reservations at a hotel once I saw that they used a certain font I didn’t like… I think I have a problem!). And, I remember as a kid when we’d travel to my grandparents, I would look out of the window & imagine myself taking pictures of the landscapes… I wanted to “save” those images forever. Being artsy & creative wasn’t always very cool, so I suppressed it for years. Opting instead for sports. I grew up with a soccer ball next to my side at all times, resulting in many broken windows, broken lamps, several broken noses, & a few heart to hearts with mom & dad. Good times indeed!
My dream was to play soccer at a Div 1 college, be invited to play for the US National Team, then following my soccer career, be a Veterinarian, Navy Seal, or Astronaut (??? random, I know). All was headed in that direction until my Junior year at McMinn CountyHigh School when I decided to try out for the football team. Before I knew it I was given a nickname, Boomer. I’m totally not kidding. Apparently I excelled above my peers as a kicker & punter. Many looks from big universities came rather quickly & I was forced with a decision to make. Play football & go to a “big” school or pursue soccer & “settle” for a smaller school. Influencing my college decision was a dramatic shift in my life resulting from God graciously showing me my need for Him & showing His kindness toward me in Jesus’ work on the cross. I thus decided to go to the University of Mobile & “settle” to play soccer (but don’t pity the fool, UM was ranked in the top 10). And what a wonderful decision it would prove.
I began as a Marine Science major at UM (still wondering what in the world I was thinking). My Marine Science stint was brief & I soon transferred my studies to the Dept. of Religion & Communications. I was learning a ton about who I was, who I wasn’t (marine scientist) & who I would grow to be. My freshman year I was heavily influence by music & was given my first guitar. My roomies joked with me as I showed off my new song, “Ben, that sounded exactly like the last song you played” (what are roomies for but to humble you!). But, God hooked me up by allowing me to be around or under the ministry of many gifted musicians & worship leaders: my brothers from other mothers, Nathan Smith & Matt Howard, the ever popular Mike, Jay, Jeremy, Joe, & Jeff (Big Daddy Weave), Darrell Evans (he’s written just about every modern song you’ve ever sang in church), Chris Lockwood (33 Miles) the list goes on & on… Brian Argo, Brad Hill, Joe Langley, Taylor White, Taylor McCall, & more.
Long story short, one day I walking to class & the campus ministry director ran up to me, “Ben, you play the guitar right?”
“Uh, yeah, kind of. I know like 6 chords.”
“Great. Here’s my guitar. Go lead the music for chapel.” Next thing I knew, I was literally standing in front of half of my university singing & playing the guitar (I’m still surprised I wasn’t kicked off the stage). Little did I know at the time that I would be doing that the rest of my college career.
The next few years I spent serving as a worship leader & Bible teacher/speaker for churches, events, conferences, etc. My senior year I met Joy Baldwin (that story is a whole post in itself) & we began to pursue a relationship. I spent several months trying to win over her heart & upon doing so, I was hired by a church in Germantown, TN (7 hours away) who offered to pay for my graduate school. I went on staff at the church & began working on my Master’s degree at MABTS. The next few years were so difficult as Joy & I dated 2+ years long distance & I, at some points, worked 3 jobs in addition to school trying to save for the future. Hence, by the time Joy & I were married, I was practically exhausted.
Fast forward a bit… in 2005, I graduated with a Master of Divinity Degree in Biblical Studies & immediately went into doctoral studies in Organization/Strategic Leadership at Regent University. At this time I really began questioning my vocation but didn’t know what to do. I served at two churches in Memphis before moving back to East TN to serve at a church. There was so much of this that I really loved but had a strong desire to pursue several hobbies, namely photography & design. I started two part-time businesses, Ben Finch Photography & The Visible Group. People began taking note of my photography & design work by purchasing fine art prints, buying prints from my travels, asking me to photograph family members, & hiring me to design logos/brochures, etc.
In 2008, I stepped down from occupational ministry & worked for a year as a leadership consultant. I traveled often consulting & training leadership/management in medical practices across the United States. During this time I was approached by my employer to develop a leadership curriculum for our accounts. We had such a positive response, we decided to publish it in book form, “A Remarkable Practice.” I still travel on occasion doing motivational seminars & leadership training based upon the book’s content.
In March 2009, I made the plunge. I decided that what most fulfilled me occupationally was being able to be creative even if it meant a drastic sacrifice in salary. Hence, I went full-time with my photography business, Ben Finch Photography, & my marketing & design business, The Visible Group. Since, I have worked like crazy furthering my trade & thanking God for every client that has come my way. Along with that, I have such a strong desire to help others pursue excellence & fulfillment in their lives & jobs. This decision has drastically changed my life, freeing up much time to invest in the things most important, my family, neighbors, relationships… the things that last forever.
So… I’ve learned that it isn’t as important what you do vocationally as it is who you are becoming. I’m so thankful for the journey I’m on & cheers to what’s next!
What’s your story? I’d love to hear; consider this an invitation to connect!