In baseball, the most elite stars are called "five-tool" players. The experts who watch them comment on how well they can do the four essential skills involved in baseball--running, throwing, fielding, and hitting. Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Mickey Mantle were among the first players to be recognized for this higher level of athleticism.
When it comes to photography, Terrell Lloyd has to be included in the elite "five-tool" category. Lloyd is at the top of the field in shooting sports, weddings, portraits, corporate events, and products. While many photographers may claim to cover all of these events, many also fall into the "jack of all trades, master of none" category. Lloyd has mastered them all, as evidenced by his stature as a member in the Canon Explorers of Light program, comprised of 78 of the most influential photographers in the world.
So, how did he get to this point in his career? It all started with a love of sports and a love of photography. Add in hard work, determination, and a bit of luck, and you have the story of Terrell Lloyd.
In high school, Lloyd had an interest in photography, although he had his sights set on a different career: pro bowling. "I started bowling in local leagues and around (California) in tournaments and kept improving my game until ultimately I had the chance to join the PBA national tour," recalls Lloyd. "I had bowled many [perfect] 300 games and 800 series, and I have the rings to prove it. I toured with some of the greats, like Earl Anthony, Pete Weber, Marshall Holman, and Mark Roth. It was the best time of my life."
Medical issues, however, caused Lloyd to scale back his touring. "Living out here in San Francisco, we're in the heart of Silicon Valley," he says. "I love technology, so I got a job at Nortel."
As with everything else, Lloyd excelled at his job. "I worked my way up to IT manager while I was still bowling part-time and continuing my love for photography," he remarks.
While working at Nortel, a friend asked Lloyd if he'd be interested in shooting his wedding. Lloyd jumped at the chance. "I'd never shot a wedding before, but I knew what type of pictures I'd like to see, so I went with my instincts," he says. "And you know what? They came out pretty good."
When he went back to his "day job," someone at the office heard about Lloyd's "wedding assignment" and asked if he would be interested in shooting the company's next big party. "One thing always leads to another in my life," he chuckles.
A Foot(ball) in the Door
Living in San Francisco, Lloyd grew up a 49ers fan and was a season-ticket holder since 1981. "I loved going to the games and watching guys like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice," he says. "I was always taking pictures from the stands."
In 1994, in another case of being in the right place at the right time, Lloyd went to a restaurant owned by former 49er Dana McLemore. A mutual friend introduced the pair, and Lloyd told McLemore about his two great loves--football and photography. "Dana kept telling me that I had to get on the field and shoot a game," Lloyd recalls. "Then one day, he actually arraigned it with the 49ers PR director."
Lloyd went to the stadium to shoot the game between the 49ers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "I went to get my credentials, and I was sure they were going to tell me that they didn't have them," he says. "Sure enough, they couldn't find them at first." But after a call to the PR director, Lloyd received his field pass.
"After that first game, I knew I had to do this again," says Lloyd. The PR director told Lloyd to give him a call if he wanted to do it again, but after several weeks of being told that there were no credentials, Lloyd took matters into his own hands.
"In 1995, I hooked up with a local monthly magazine to shoot the games for them," he recalls. "Since it was a monthly and not really newsworthy, I concentrated on shots that could be used in features--behind-the-scenes type of stuff." Lloyd worked in this capacity for a few years.
Once again, Lloyd proved that timing is everything. About that same time, the DCS5xx was introduced. "It was a digital camera with a Canon body and a Kodak back that cost about $12,000," he recalls. Having worked in IT, Lloyd was fascinated by new technology. "When that camera came out, I knew I needed to get it," he says.
While working for the monthly magazine, Lloyd continued to make a lot of contacts, and eventually one of those contacts came through. "Tom Hastings, in the 49ers PR department, came up to me and said that they had an opening on the staff," he says. The staff photographers, headed by 30-year veteran Michael Zagaris, were all shooting film. "They wanted to bring the production of their website in-house, and Tom knew I was shooting digital, so he offered me the spot," recalls Lloyd.
He joined the staff in 1999 and has been there ever since. "I love football, and I love photography, so what could be better than shooting football--of my favorite team, no less," he laughs.
Of course, the NFL season only runs from training camp in August to the Super Bowl in February. "And we haven't been in the Super Bowl in a long time," says Lloyd.
So he uses his talents and his contacts to keep busy. One day he was contacted by the athletic director at San José State University, who offered Lloyd the chance to become the team photographer for their football program.
"In my second season at San José State, they earned a Bowl bid for the first time in more than 20 years," he says. While at San José State, Lloyd also started shooting other sports--basketball, baseball, tennis, swimming, volleyball and more. "Now I'm contracted with San José for all of their sports," he reports.
To add to his credits, in 2007 Lloyd landed two other professional sports teams, this time in Major League Lacrosse: He's the team photographer for the indoor San Jose Stealth and the outdoor San Francisco Dragons.
"This has been another opportunity and challenge for me and my career, and it has been great," he exclaims. Lloyd also recently hooked up with an Indy Racing team. "I believe I can shoot anything and any sport," he says. "That's how I approach new adventures."
One of the advantages to working the sidelines at big sporting events is getting the opportunity to meet executives from some high-profile companies. "The sidelines are a great place to make connections," he says. "Big companies are always bringing clients out onto the field before the game, and I'll introduce myself and one thing leads to another...."
Lloyd's corporate clients read like a who's who of top companies, including Yahoo!, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel Networks, Sony, Sun Microsystems, Levi Strauss, and BMW. He shoots everything, from corporate events and executive portraits to product shots. "Whatever they need, I'll do it," he says. Lloyd said he still considers corporate as a core business. "I started with corporate and weddings, and I still love it," he says.
Lloyd believes that having worked in the corporate world gives him an advantage dealing with company executives. "Having worked with directors and vice presidents [earlier in my career], I think I know how to deal with them on their level," he explains. "I'm not just a photographer from the outside."
Another thing that makes Lloyd stand out is his artistic vision. When looking at his website (www.terrelllloyd.com), one of the first things that jumps out at the viewer is the unusual angles he chooses. Wedding images shot at ground level or high above the ceremony are similar to angles taken at sporting events. "I love walking all around the stadium and getting unique angles, and that has translated to my other work," affirms Lloyd.
Shooting sports has trained Lloyd to have quick reactions and to look for those unique angles. "Sports is about action and reaction," he says. "The same can be said for corporate events and weddings. I'll get the shot of the first kiss at the wedding and quickly spot the mom wiping away a tear. Or I'll get the CEO making the speech and then get the audience reaction."
One thing Lloyd stresses to aspiring photographers when he tours the country lecturing is to always try to be creative. He says that sometimes an image might look better if shot at a lower or higher angle, so he tends to always shoot high or low, either tilting the camera left or right just to get a different perspective.
"Even at a wedding, sometimes I'll shoot from the back of the church, down low on the carpet, but then I may throw on a fisheye lens to get a different perspective," he adds.
Lloyd has a signature wedding shot using his fisheye lens, on-camera flash, and slow shutter speed. "I'll hold the camera way up over my head, pointing down at the bride and groom," he says. "Then, with a longer shutter speed, like a second or second and a half, I'll hit the flash, the flash will go off and freeze them for a second, and I'll turn the camera left and then right, and it gives it a motion effect. It freezes them a little bit, and it makes for a nice dynamic picture. I haven't seen anybody do that. And it's done by dragging the shutter for just a short period of time."
Indeed, it all comes back to creativity. "I tell people that you're still going to do the shots you definitely have to get," says Lloyd. "But then you might say, If I had to do it differently, what would I do?' And that's what will make you stand out from other photographers."
Terrell Lloyd's Gearbox
Cameras & Lenses
Canon 1D Mark III, Canon 1Ds Mark III, Canon 1D Mark II N, Canon 1D (converted to infrared)
400mm IS f/2.8L, 300mm IS f/2.8L, 200mm IS f/2.0L, 70-200mm IS f/2.8L, 24-105mm IS f/4.0L, 24-70mm IS f/2.8L, 16-35mm f/2.8L, 15mm fisheye, 85mm f/1.2L, 50mm f/1.2L
1.4x extender, 2x extender
Canon Angle Finder
Sigma 8mm circular fisheye
Canon 580EX II, 580EX flash units
Canon WFT-E2A wireless file transmitter
Profoto 600w compact lights sets; 600w portable battery lights sets; 2400w power pack system
Sekonic L-758 meter
Lexar CF cards
Drobo RAID devices over 4.5TB
Mitsubishi CP-3800DW, CP-9800DW, CP-9500DW
Adobe Photoshop CS3
Camera Bits Photo Mechanic
ACDSee Pro 2
Miller's Professional Imaging