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Sophomore Chase Sabina is a pro­fes­sional pho­tog­rapher. Chase Sabina | Courtesy

When sophomore Chase Sabina started sharing his favorite pho­tographs on a blog, he just wanted to post images he liked. Now, Sabina has been busy doing pho­to­shoots for clients like Brooks Brothers, Google, and Land Rover — and has more than 27,000 fol­lowers on Instagram. 

Chase begins to describe what he does and who is he is, but he’s not quite sure.

“Pho­tog­rapher, influ­encer, a lot of dif­ferent words, I don’t really know,” Sabina said. 

Sabina’s original blog revolved around sharing pic­tures that he enjoyed, but he was not the pho­tog­rapher taking those pic­tures. 

“And then out of the blue I just picked up a camera and started shooting, saying I wanted to kind of replicate the images that I was seeing and sharing,” Sabina said. 

Sabina also kept his work somewhat secret, even from his own family. Junior Brooke Sabina, his older sister, said she was shocked when she found out how suc­cessful her younger brother had become. 

“His success sur­prised me. His original blog, which he became known for, he had kept a secret from me,” Brooke said, “I think because he thought I wouldn’t approve or that I would tell our mom he was on the internet all the time.”

Within a year the blog had around a million and a half page views. With that kind of pop­u­larity, Sabina figured if he could make a blog that popular, he could transfer the idea over to Instagram. 

“And then about two years later, after a lot of hard work on Instagram, I got my first client in brand to reach out to me,” he said. 

When he started out, Sabina had no thought of mon­e­tizing his Instagram or doing photo shoots pro­fes­sionally. But when his first client reached out to him, he began to think about the pos­si­bil­ities. 

Sabina now has a variety of clients, some small, some famous. He has done shoots for every­thing from small start-up busi­nesses all the way to Airbnb and Delta Air­lines. Over the summer Sabina worked for a growing company called Grayers, which took him to London, Austria, and Germany. 

Though Sabina is in school now, his pho­tog­raphy and Insta­gramming are not on hold. Sabina signed with an agency that rep­re­sents him and manages his social media, but they are allowing him to work on his own schedule.  Now he is trying to find the best balance between school and his work. 

“I just recently went to Chicago because I work with Google,” Sabina said. “And then I have another project with them this coming year, so they’ll send me trav­elling for that. Luckily I’m sort of able to balance it between work and school. It’s def­i­nitely dif­ficult though.”

On the aca­demic side of his busy life, Sabina is thinking about majoring in eco­nomics or mar­keting. After working on both the cre­ative and business aspects of his pho­tog­raphy and Insta­gramming, he has come to appre­ciate the psy­chology behind mar­keting and eco­nomics. 

“The whole process of building social media is mar­keting yourself and branding yourself, and making a brand out of your own name, which has been crazy,” Sabina said. “I really enjoy the whole psy­chology behind mar­keting yourself and trying to figure it out.”

Junior Mark Compton, a friend of both the Sabina sib­lings, noted the unusual maturity with which Sabina handles his business and success. 

“Chase treats his success just like any other part of his life: lightly. He’s willing to laugh at the way he came into success, as well as the failures he’s encoun­tered along the way — there are a lot,” Compton said. “I think man­aging a business at such a young age can lend itself to arro­gance, but Chase operates with maturity.”  

His friend, junior Henry Lis­ten­berger, agrees.

“He is def­i­nitely just a normal 20-year-old clown who happens to have way more expe­rience than most,” Lis­ten­berger said.