In a time when it’s sometimes a good idea to have multiple side hustles, a Brandon native uses his talents to earn money and build his resume.
As a full-time student, juggling a small business on top of school can be difficult, but Dillon Thomas makes it work.
His photography business, Dill’s Images, is his primary focus.
“I schedule my shoots around schoolwork,” he said. “School comes first. Sometimes I can get support and have assignments, but I also have three photoshoots in a week, but it’s all about balance.
Thomas bought his first camera in preparation for his prom at Brandon High School. His friends didn’t have a photographer for the prom, so he stepped in and took the group 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 looking for a photographer for their occasional seniors. Thomas started taking pictures on weekends and after school. When more and more people started contacting him, his hobby turned into a business.
Thomas graduated from Hinds Community College in May 2021 and wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, but after visiting the University of West Alabama, he fell in love with his major.
Today, he studies there and specializes in integrated marketing communications with a specialization in graphic design. After a semester of taking in-person classes, Thomas transitioned to online classes to focus more on his photography career.
Now that he is back home, he works at a Flowood studio which has elevated his work and dedication to photography. His goal is to work in social media marketing, but he doesn’t want to give up photography just yet.
“I would like my photography business to turn into a business, with other photographers under me who can learn and grow,” he said.
Thomas is currently supervising a student.
“Primarily, I would love to work with social media, building people’s brands from scratch,” 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 didn’t become friends until after graduation, when the two started photography businesses.
“What makes it [Thomas] different is how his customers are his friends,” Bardin said. “He has such an inviting attitude, and you feel very comfortable around him…He’s always been the best encouraging and hyped man.”
Thomas recently started a graphic design business called Designed by Dill which 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 track record of working in the entertainment industry who is proficient in customer service, Final Cut Pro, leadership, and public speaking.
He also recently started working with Vintage Visions Co., another t-shirt brand, where he is responsible for marketing and managing the company’s social media accounts. Thomas finds these projects essential to building his portfolio and achieving his end goals.