My New Home Office!

Within the last few months I made the tough decision to opt out of renewing my lease on my downtown studio space. Although I loved the building & had a great landlord, after doing the math & thinking toward the future, I knew it was right. Consider this, I would say around 95% of my shoots are off location & about 90% of my clientele hear about me through word of mouth, internet or social media: Blog, Facebook, Twitter. To this day I’ve opted out of doing any traditional forms of advertising (besides biz cards): newspaper, brochures, billboard, etc. That isn’t to say that I won’t do such things but I knew to build a business through relational marketing is much slower in growth but more substantial in the long run… plus, it’s free! Therefore, my studio/office location wasn’t nearly as important as I originally thought. And, I made a decision from the beginning that both of my businesses would be run in a ‘Dave Ramsey’ kind of way… no debt, straight up cash. That has proved difficult sometimes! So… instead of sinking around $8000 annually into a building I have little return on, I chose a one-time investment of about 25% of that into my home & build an office/studio space. Now, I will begin to set aside little by little in the plan that one day I’ll build my dream studio space.

When we bought our house we loved the extra 160 square feet screened-in back porch just off the kitchen. But as I thought about bringing my office home, I knew this space would be ideal. With blazing hot summers & cold winters, I was going to have to close in the space. I began researching & designing the space, gathering materials, begging my Father-in-law & dad to help, & eventually beginning the renovation. We did all the renovation ourselves & saved a ton of money… you wouldn’t believe the final cost. I will spare some of the details but I designed the space to echo my Ben Finch Photography brand. There are a few things missing… I’m saving to add a couch & coffee table, signage, & a large plasma/LCD TV to show clients their session photos. Here it is so far with it’s wonderful natural light pouring in… drum roll please!!

One of the challenges & benefits of moving to such a small space is that it forces you to simplify. Everything in the office serves a purpose now. The suitcases & trunk both house photo equipment & office supplies. The couch & coffee table will serve as a workstation when I have meetings with my designers & photography associates. And I have areas for temporary & permanent filing… it’s an organizational dream!

Leave me a comment below & let me know what you think. If you have any questions about the benefits/challenges of running a business (or two) from home or feel free to shoot me an email or leave a comment. Or, if you have any questions for that matter… I’ll be glad to try to answer.

Here are a few pics of the area beforehand as I was measuring for windows. These images remind me of how hard it was to keep the screened-in porch clean… it drove me crazy! Not any more!!

Special Delivery

For some reason, maybe it has to do with my last name… Finch (like the bird), birds are constantly building nests in random places around our house. If we leave the garage door open for too long, I inevitably have to remove nests from my golf bag or the top of my work bench. Plus, they somehow find their way in the house if we crack the door to allow a breeze. On one morning I woke up to a bird swooping over my head in our bedroom… I soon found out there were two birds in the house.

It’s quite odd… does this happen to other people?

About two weeks ago I went to the mailbox & a bird flew out of the newspaper slot. She’s been there for several weeks now & without fail, I forget she’s nested there & she’ll dive bomb me when I collect the mail. I bet the neighbors find it hilarious.

Well… two days ago I realized her little chicks had hatched. Today when I went to the mailbox I took my camera & caught a quick pic of our ‘special delivery.’ Joy isn’t too thrilled, she’s kind of creeped out by birds.

There are at least two in there, but this guy seems to be the most social… love the bird mohawk. Does this qualify as a newborn session?

Matthew & Jessica Wedding | Knoxville, TN

I think I have a problem. People who know me best are probably like, “Ahhem… excuse me Ben, you have many problems.” Okay, they’re right… I’ve got no rebuttal. Such as, I have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) type tendencies. I’m pretty sure we all do, but sometimes I think I take it to a whole new level. For example, my closet. My closet is arranged via color & style. The left side begins with light colored, short-sleeved shirts. As you move down the closet, the the sleeves become longer & the shirts get darker until you reach the pants… light color jeans to dark to slacks. Plus, if someone were to sneak in my closet & rearrange anything, I would immediately know it. No kidding.

The closet is indicative of my entire life. Everything is in some sort of order & if it is “out” of order, we’ve got problems folks. Just imagine how my life has changed since we’ve had kids.

But sometimes I think this can be a strength.

I have an obsession with details. In most cases, I immediately see when something is slightly off. Maybe it’s a picture on the wall that isn’t straight, a brochure where the spacing isn’t flush, etc. I could go on & on. No really, I could.

So… all that to say, one of my favorite things about photography is capturing details & expressions. I assisted another photographer this weekend for Matthew & Jessica’s wedding. It was a lovely ceremony & the reception was top-class as details were priority. Congrats Matthew & Jessica!

As Jessica was coming down the aisle for her “first-look” at her man.
Those shoes are straight up rock & roll!
One of the groomsmen, Ben, had the strategy mapped out… it was almost game-time.
It’s game-time!
This little girl was the bride’s niece… love that little expression.
Ahh… very well done!
Here’s the retro-styled getaway golf-cart. What a great day for a wedding!

Travis & Laura Wedding | Coffey Farm, Niota, TN

For months now, since their engagement shoot, I’ve been eagerly anticipating Travis & Laura’s wedding. And this past Saturday, it finally came. Being an outdoor wedding, the weather gave us reason to be concerned. The weather channel was suggesting a high of 97 degrees with a 40% chance of rain and a +90% humidity index. Yikes! When I arrived, I drove past a horse fence when I saw an old wooden sign with the word “wedding” hand painted on it. I turned into the driveway & ascended up the mile-long driveway. When I reached the top, the trees cleared & an incredible mountain view appeared. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “what a beautiful place for a wedding!” It is the home & farm of Scott & Katy Coffey.

I immediately met up with Laura & her bridesmaids & little thought was given again to the weather outside. She was glowing with excitement & looking absolutely lovely. What a wonderful day for Laura & Travis, their family & friends!

Makeup was done by the lovely Kristina Burke of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.
In case you didn’t know, I’m a huge shoe fan. I love these shoes that Laura chose; they really fit her personality.
These girls were laughing constantly!
Laura was a stunning bride!

In addition to his job at TVA, Travis also works as a Fireman for the Calhoun Fire Department.
My good friend, Lillian Prince, assisted me for the wedding. She hung out with the guys & captured them in the wedding day preparation. Here are a few of her awesome shots!
Adorable!! This is Alyssa… she was the perfect flower girl.
I love sharing these special moments right before a Father leads his daughter down the aisle!
Mr. & Mrs. Travis Lee!
The Bakery, did a beautiful job with the cakes & catering!
The Photo Booth was a big hit during the reception. We provided the props & the guests provided pure awesomeness! These are some of my favs. If you’d like to see the rest, visit my Facebook fan page here or register the guestbook here & you’ll be notified when all the wedding pics are available.
Killer mustaches must run in the family!

The Ketchams | Newborn Lifestyle Session

My favorite class in elementary school was always PE (Physical Education)… gym class. My friends & I lived for gym class. I mean really, what’s not to love about playing kickball, soccer, basketball, flag football, four-square & calling it educational?! These are the things we boys lived for. But, there were always days in gym class that were the worst… when a girl beats your time in the mile run. Laura was that girl who could always humble the guys when it came to distance running. Plus, she was crazy smart!

Well, she still is crazy smart! Laura & her husband, Mike, live in Chattanooga, TN where she practices law & he is in restaurant management. They recently welcomed their little guy Andrew Thurman Ketcham to the world. What a cute little man! I greatly enjoyed seeing Laura again & getting to know Mike better… a great guy!

It was such a pleasure to meet up with the Ketcham family at their home on Thursday to capture this season of their lives. Thanks Ketcham family!

Andrew’s nursery is amazing… really well done!I love shooting from the perspective of the baby… Andrew has these little monkeys to keep him company!Mike is such a proud daddy… plus, he’s got great ideas that really added to the session. I told him I was going to have to take him to sessions with me.Love that little bottom lip sticking out… he wasn’t the biggest fan of having to have his diaper changed.
Love this perspective!The whole family!
Doesn’t Laura look lovely!