July 28, 2017

College student grows photography business from kernel

BARRE — Sean Hood, a 21-year-old from Barre, runs his own photography business while attending the Community College of Vermont, working part time for the last two years.

It’s something that happened gradually. Hood began his time with cameras young. “Ever since I was little, I’ve been messing around with filming,” said Hood. “I got my first camera when I was eight. I was jealous of my sister, who got one before me.”

He didn’t get serious about it, however, until after high school.

“I worked for Vermont Country Campers, in East Montpelier, cleaning campers, until I found out I hated the job and quit. It was then that my father’s best friend, professional photographer Jay Kennedy, offered me a job. Jay really took me under his wing. Jay taught me how to shoot. He brought the photographer out of me,” said Hood.

“It’s a joy to have Sean working with me and I have equally enjoyed mentoring him in the aspect of professional photography. Sean also has made sure his cameras and lenses/flashes are the best on the market. … while they cost a lot more it proves worthy when high-end images are captured,” said Kennedy in an email. “Sean always excels at whatever he does to do with photography. … It is always a pleasure to have him creating great images.”

Hood began to work with Kennedy on weddings and portraits in 2014. “I was an assistant, helped with lighting,” Hood said. “Then I started to shoot alongside him. I then worked as a photographer with the Colchester Sun and the Essex Reporter for one summer.” Hood continues to work for Kennedy.

Beginning his business in 2015, Hood first offered his photography services after a high school friend needed a senior portrait two weeks before the deadline. “It was a pretty slow (the) first year,” Hood said, commenting on the only client he had. However, next season would be much more busy, “I did 12 or 13 senior shoots, family shoots, and even a dog shoot,” said Hood, who already has plans to begin shooting weddings next year.

Most entrepreneurs start the process with a business plan, application for financing and lots of research. Hood’s organic approach to business growth isn’t uncommon, however. Charles Ininger, an area business advisor for the Vermont Small Business Development Center, said, “I would say about 50/50 for folks just doing it on their own (versus) those getting advisors.”

“It’s all mixed in pretty well,” said Hood, commenting on how his business affects his life. “It doesn’t really affect school or work.”

However, Hood also said his life gets more hectic during senior photo season. “That’s when things get a little crazy. I have all these deadlines to meet and I have to get everything done.”

Hood believes his time with Kennedy has given him much in the way of experience, but also helped him develop his own style, what Hood calls a “West Coast” style, involving, “a low aperture, less saturated, and more of a faded look. “Jay has a more of an ‘East Coast’ style, more traditional,” said Hood.

A text message sent by Hood stated, “I have found a passion I could see myself pursuing for the rest of my life. And it can be hard working weekends all the time while other people my age have those days off. But, I still find time to hang out with my friends and enjoy shooting enough, so it doesn’t matter that it takes up the weekends for me.” I work weddings and sessions with Jay on the weekends, Hood continued. “I have a wedding every Saturday, typically 9- to 12-hour days with travel. Then Sundays are great days to shoot because clients usually have those days free.”

He has plans to expand his business further. “I mostly serve just the central Vermont area,” Hood said.” My next area to serve is Burlington.

“It just keeps looking up,” he said.


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