In an age when it is sometimes wise to have several side hustles, a Brandon native is using his talents to earn money and build his resume.
As a full-time student, it can be hard to juggle a small business in addition to studies, but Dillon Thomas makes it work.
His photography business Dill’s Images is his main focus.
“I plan my shoots around schoolwork,” he said. “School comes first. Sometimes, I may get backed and have assignments, but I also have three photo shoots going on in a week, but it’s all about balance.”
Thomas bought his first camera in preparation for his senior prom at Brandon High School. His friends did not have a photographer for prom, so he stepped up and took the group’s photos. Photography, at the time, was more of a hobby than a job.
In 2019, during his senior year of high school, other seniors reached out to him searching for a photographer for their senior casuals. Thomas began taking pictures on the weekends and after school. When more people began contacting him, his hobby transitioned into a business.
Thomas graduated from Hinds Community College in May of 2021 and was unsure what he wanted to do, but after touring the University of West Alabama, he fell in love with his major.
Today, he is a student there majoring in integrated marketing communications with an emphasis in graphic design. After a semester attending in-person classes, Thomas has transitioned to online classes to focus more on his photography career.
Now that he is back home, he is working in a Flowood studio that has elevated his work and dedication to photography. His goal is to work in social media marketing, but he does not want to let go of photography just yet.
“I would like my photography business to turn into a company, with other photographers under me that can learn and grow,” he said.
Thomas currently supervises one student.
“Mainly, I would like to work with social media, building people’s brands from the ground up,” he said.
Thomas said Leah Bardin, another local photographer, is one of his biggest inspirations. Thomas and Bardin have known each other since high school, but they did not become friends until after graduation when both started photography businesses.
“What makes him [Thomas] different is how his clients are his friends,” Bardin said. “He has such an inviting attitude, and you feel very comfortable around him … He has always been the best encourager and hype man.”
Thomas recently launched a graphic design business called Designed by Dill that focuses on T-shirt and logo design and promotional work for businesses.
His LinkedIn profile describes him as an experienced video editor with a demonstrated history of working in the entertainment industry who is skilled in customer service, Final Cut Pro, leadership and public speaking.
He also recently began working with Vintage Visions Co., another T-shirt brand, where he is head of marketing and runs the company’s social media accounts. Thomas finds these projects essential to building his portfolio and working toward his end goals.