Carrie Finazzo has always loved photography. She considered it a fun hobby, a way to capture images of her family life.
Five years ago, everything changed.
Finazzo began her career as a speech pathologist. She eventually worked her way into special-education administration in a school district. She raised her family and all seemed well, until several life changes fell one on top of another, stopping her in her tracks.
Photography took her in a new direction, which has led her to where she is today as the owner of Carrie Finazzo Photography.
One of Finazzo’s daughters was an art student preparing for college. While researching art schools in the Chicago area, Finazzo came across a new program in digital photography at Herrington College of Design.
She was intrigued and met with someone from the school.
“I was talking with this woman and for some reason I thought to myself, ‘You know, I’m going to do this,’” she said. “So I enrolled.”
Because of her previous education, Finazzo was able to concentrate on photography courses. For 18 months, she studied alongside 19-year-olds. She took whatever photography jobs she could to support herself and her kids, including taking pictures of newborns at Central DuPage Hospital.
“I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” she laughed. “I thought I was just going to have fun in photography!”
And she learned more about photography than she expected. “It was a commercial photography program, so you learn (how to photograph) product, you learn architecture, you learn people, you learn events," she said. "You name it, you learn it.”
In 2007, Finazzo finished the program at Herrington and moved to Darien. She appreciates the ease of traveling to family, friends and commitments throughout the Chicago area. She also likes the people here.
“Everything about Darien is pleasant,” she said, “And I felt so comfortable here.”
Finazzo found a way to combine photography with her other career. She is currently the principal of Timberline Knolls Academy on the grounds of in Lemont. The National Association of Special Education Teachers has recognized the academy as a School of Excellence for the two years that she’s been there. In addition to her other duties, she teaches photography and acts as a photography mentor to the students.
Finazzo also established her own professional photography business in 2007 – Carrie Finazzo Photography. She works on weekends, shooting at locations of her clients’ choosing. She specializes in individual and relationship portraits.
Finazzo starts with a consultation to learn what the client wants, who’s going to be in the shoot, and how it’s going to be used.
“In that consultation, when you tell me how you want to use the images, I’m going to shoot for that purpose,” she explained. “A rock band just wants to put it on their website. A young mother might be starting a collection of gallery wraps (canvases printed with photos). We talk about it, and I shoot that session for you. Then the third part is getting together, viewing the images, making an order.”
Finazzo takes pride in producing portraits that are one-of-a-kind.
“I will always do that one unique shot that they’re never going to get anywhere else,” she said. “And they’re stunned that I got it. They say, ‘It brought tears to my eyes.’”
Her business grows through word-of-mouth and referrals.
“I create a relationship,” she said. “I don’t advertise; I don’t market. But once I do a shoot with you, I’m probably going to do another shoot with you. You don’t know that the first day, but you’re going to get such individualized attention, and you’re going to get such follow-through, and it’s a money-back guarantee. I refund your money if you are not satisfied.”
Finazzo sees her photography work as a service.
“Maybe 100 years from now, a photo I take will be looked at by somebody, and there will be something about that that inspires someone,” she explained. “Or maybe something I do will inspire someone to become a photographer. Or some piece of me that went through that photo does something positive for somebody that I will never know about. It’s a way to bring happiness to people’s lives and maybe change something, have them look at themselves differently.”
To learn more about Carrie Finazzo Photography, see samples of her work or set up an appointment, visit her website at www.carriefinazzo.com .