who we are and what we do

When you enjoy what you do, you'll figure out a way to be excellent at it.

Scroll down to see a list of clients and awards.

My name is Donald  Hood.  I developed an interest in photography when I was about 5 years old. I credit that to 2 people, a friend of my dad’s named Arnold, that used to land his 2 seater airplane in a pasture at Youngtown Alabama to visit his mom, and Larry Lang in Moulton Alabama who was one of the hottest photographers around back in the day.

Arnold used to show us his photos which he printed as HUGE (in my little eyes), 8x10’s. I would stare deeply into the prints and imagine I could do that.
Then as a kid, at a family reunion,  a photographer came out in a white jeep to photograph it. He did a group shot, and had to climb on top of a picnic pavilion to make it. I remember soaking in every detail of every move he made. My parents tell me I was about 4 or 5 years old then. I found out in later years the photographers name was Larry Lang. Later in high school, Larry let me in to his sacred darkroom and showed me some stuff, and also gave me some “secrets” on getting really crisp black and white prints. He had no idea what he was starting.
My dad gave me his Agfa rangefinder camera which he got while in the Army in Germany, when I was in the 3rd grade.  I shot with it all the time, even when I didn’t have film in it. The camera was completely manual,  so I learned exposure from the inside flap of the  Kodak film I used. I got my first darkroom in the 5th grade. There’s nothing more magical than watching a print come to life before your eyes in the developer tray. Digital has robbed us of that experience, (imho).
Fast forward a couple decades, after the rock musician days, and I landed my first real photography job at 24. It was an upstart portrait studio in North Carolina. I worked with them about a year, and was placed in the position of photographer trainer. The company was into fund raisers, promotional stuff, etc. and actually put out some good work. We were a little more expensive than other like companies, but our quality was much better. The company grew, and I eventually was training every newly hired photographer in the southeast at the ripe old age of 25. As the company grew, so did the greed of the owners, and they started cheapening everything from film and paper, to lighting styles. I quit.
I started doing stuff on my own, and got enough going to realistically consider opening a studio. To raise money I worked for Fluor Daniel on industrial construction jobs. I ended up in Los Angeles, and began to immerse myself into the art communities around Laguna Beach. My eyes were opened to an entirely different world of photography and when I moved back to North Alabama in 1989, I opened Status Image.
Status Image was a wild ride. We offered a style that was not readily available around here at that time. I studied more and more about classic lighting styles, and applied them to the more casual posing in our portraiture. I began to build sets for portraits instead of relying solely on painted backgrounds. Business was booming. I had some great people working for me, which allowed me to branch out a little into commercial work.
During the next 20 years, we were very successful at what we did. I was blessed with numerous awards and stuff, but most important, we created classic, timeless portraits which our clients still display in their homes and offices. We never cut corners on quality, so they look as good today as the day they were framed.  I have renewed my interest in the portrait industry as I’ve watched the quality of work nationwide take a nosedive. With the advent of digital and the prices of cameras and computers so low, hundreds of people open and close photo studios every day , thinking it's an easy buck.  For a few years, the demand for truly professional photography fell.  There’s a ‘studio’ on every corner and in every garage nowadays and since the work all looks the same, the prices are cheap. If you look closely, most of them are doing exactly what you can do with the purchase of a decent camera and a photo program.

Look into the left and right coasts. New York and Los Angeles are seeing a huge resurgence of beautiful portrait art with the sculpted lighting styles of an old masters painting. More and more people are searching out portrait artists to have something different from the droves of copycats to display on their wall. This demand by smart consumers is evident in the number of studio owners that enroll in the lighting classes I teach.
I plan on remaining true to the original vision for Status Image which was and is, the highest quality, at a modest price, for discriminating clients. It’s worked for me a long time.
Where we are now is giving back to the community. I teach photography classes on manual camera control, lighting, and photoshop; shoot architecture, shoot industrial layouts, as well as create advertising, and promotional literature for small companies. I look forward to working with you on your own masterpiece. Whether it is portraiture I create for you, creating a layout for your companies new marketing strategy, or teaching you how to make your own photographic art.  It's all good, and I love it.


Photography trainer for American Studios, 1984
President, Tennessee Valley Professional Photographers
Vice President, TVPPA
Addy Award for magazine cover shot
Published by the Associated Press
Best of the Best by the Decatur Daily
2nd place 1982 Tennessee Valley Camera Club
2nd place 1983 Tennessee Valley Camera Club
1st place 1983 Tennessee Valley Camera Club
Best of Show, 1984 Tennessee Valley Camera Club
Most Photogenic winner for Miss Point Mallard
Most Photogenic winner for Miss Teen Alabama
Most Photogenic in a bunch of regional pageants
Published in the Miss Alabama Official Program