The 100 Year History of Finley's Studio
When he was 30 years old, James Blair Finley took $10.00 and bought a camera and started Finley’s Studio in 1903 in Ringgold, Georgia. He made use of Mr. George Templeton, of Ringgold, and his knowledge of photography in his early days with photography. This was in the era when there was no "film". Glass plates were used by coating an emulsion on them. Then in 1905, J. B. moved the studio to Dalton, Georgia. This early time in portrait photography required hot lights and a rigid subject. Subjects were seated and a special "head holder" would be positioned behind the head to keep a subject’s head very still during the exposure.
When Carl was a young boy, around 1905, there was a train wreck in Ringgold or just on the outskirts of Ringgold. J. B. took Carl to the wreck and was making photographs. Train officials did not appreciate the photographs being taken. When they approached J. B., he gave the exposed film to Carl and told him to "run". Carl ran and hid with the film and later rejoined J. B. They went back to the studio to develop and print the film.
J. B. moved to Winterhaven, Florida in 1920 and sold his interest in Finley’s Studio to his son, Carl Samuel Finley, that same year.
Carl began making photographs in 1909 when he was 14 years old. Carl was also in the printing business under the name of Finley Print Shop, which he started in his garage in 1909. He published a flyer entitled "Finley Booster" in which he sold advertising. He was also his own advertiser promoting Finley’s Studio. During the 1940’s the studio was located upstairs at 221 North Hamilton Street. Carl continued the studio and print shop until he died in 1948. During this time, photofinishing was a large part of business at Finley’s Studio. Many rolls of film were developed by hand in trays. The long rolls required that the person doing the developing had long arms and was fairly tall. One hand would insert the film into the developer and pull the roll into the liquid. When the other had met the liquid, the process was reversed until the proper time to move into the acid. Then came the fixer. Developing film was very labor intensive. Carl employed his wife, Mamie, nieces Mary Bess Finley and Martelle Jones, and his nephew Ralph Brown. Carl was always business oriented; working long hours and seldom smiled.
His son, Glenn Eugene Finley, came to work for his father when he was 33, in 1947 and inherited Finley’s Studio and Finley Print Shop from his father at Carl’s death. The studio was moved to 109 North Hamilton Street, upstairs, after Carl’s death. Finley’s Studio moved to its present location, 259 North Hamilton Street, in August 1957. This was the first time that Finley’s Studio had been located on street level in Dalton. Glenn managed the print shop until 1976 when all of the equipment was sold. P. P. Clement worked at the Print Shop after he retired from Lee Printing in 1955 until 1976. Glenn continued the studio until he died in 1978. It was during 1950’s and 1960’s that Finley’s Studio and Finley Print Shop had it’s largest growth period. Glenn and his employees photographed many children and graduates from area schools in several surrounding counties. Glenn sold many movie outfits and Polaroid cameras to area residents. Some of the employees during this time were: Jack Rowe, Lamar Cole, Clifford Chastain, Marie Westbrook, Ruth Styles (his aunt), Charles Forrest, Carolyn Baggett, Willis Treadwell, Dixon White, James Parker, Richard Hunter, Juanita Tankersley, Betty Slate, Peggy Maness, and Gene Maness.
Glenn’s son, Eugene C. Finley, was called back home from the Army in 1971, receiving an honorable hardship discharge, to manage the Studio until Glenn could recover from a lengthy hospital stay. Eugene and Glenn continued to co-manage the studio together until Glenn’s death in 1978. Eugene continued Finley’s Studio with his mother Mavis West Finley. Eugene inherited a half interest and Mavis inherited a half interest in the studio. In June 1978, a color lab was installed to develop amateur color film. Some employees during this period included; Betty Slate, T. Lee Smith, John Adams, Mavis Finley, Terri, Bo Jackson, Donna Clayton, Dennis Gribble, Debbie Phillips, Arwanna Smith, Derral Fuller, and Soon Heung "Jenhe" Finley. A good selection of cameras and accessories became a part of Finley’s Studio during this time. When Mavis died in 1993, Eugene inherited the other half interest in Finley’s Studio.
Eugene began taking wedding photographs around 1964 using Graflex 4 X 5 cameras with flashbulbs. He began developing black & white film and printing in 1962.
In April 1984, Eugene went into a partnership agreement with Edgar "Eddie" Aden Painter III. The agreement was for a Video Transfer Business. Along with the Finley name, the video transfer proved successful. Eddie had another job, so he helped operate the video transfer business on a part time basis. In 1989 Eddie lost his job so he spent more time with the video transfer business. When the Red Food, Ace Hardware, Family Dollar Shopping Center was being built, Eugene and Eddie decided that would be a good place for a one hour photo lab. In May 1990, Fast Foto Services was opened. August 1993 the video transfer business was dissolved and merged with KYF Foto Lab, parent company of Fast Foto Services. During this period employees included Chris Bond, Penny Sloan, Bruce Painter, Pam Langston, Eva Burnette, Brenda Beasley, Chimmine Denman, Carla French, and Joyce Bates.
Today Finley’s Studio does aerial, location, portrait, prom, school, sports (team & individual), sports action photography, and wedding photography. Copying old photos and restoring old photos is also done. Repairing cameras, taking instant passport photos, printing black and white negatives in the darkroom are just a few of the other things that keep Finley’s busy. Finley's has the largest stock of projection lamps in the surrounding area.
Finley’s Studio has always taken advantage of every technological advancement, and now we deliver photos made and printed digitally, allowing quicker delivery and exceptional quality.
Since 2002, action sports photos have been an important part of the business. Eugene has visited many local ball fields, area gyms, and stadiums where he has photographed many youth and high school age ball players. He has photographed a few semi-pro football teams and is in demand for his services.
Finley's Studio has always been located in downtown on North Hamilton Street, since moving to Dalton. In June 2009, Finley's moved out of a "brick and mortar" location and now serves the public with an internet presence. Finley's continues to serve the area with a pick-up and delivery service.
Filing negatives has always been the practice of Finley's Studio. We are in the process of creating a database enabling you to find your or your ancestor's original image taken by one of the photographers of Finley's Studio. Some of our files and negatives date back to 1948. To view and locate this historical data base, click here.
Copyright © 2002 - 2010 Eugene C. Finley