Ask most people what their work days are like, and you won’t get a response like Terrell Lloyd’s: “I remember one time, one of our defensive linemen was close to the end zone and he took two linemen, moved them back at the same time, grabbed the quarterback over his shoulder pads, and took all three guys down for a sack, all in one play. It was just unreal. I was lying down on my stomach to get a low-angle shot, and I’ve always loved that image.”
If it sounds like he’s got some kind of dream job, that’s because he does. Lloyd is the San Francisco 49ers’ official photographer, and he’s been a fan of the football team since he was a kid growing up in the Haight-Ashbury district. Of course, Lloyd’s path in life didn’t lead him directly from childhood fandom to a spot on the field. As a young man he toured as a professional bowler, advanced through a 20-year IT career, and ran a successful event and portrait photography business on the side. But when a former player got him credentials so that he could shoot a 49ers game up close in 1994, he was hooked. “I started taking some photos, and it was like, ‘How do I get back on the field?’” he says.
It was his talent for thinking ahead of the game that got him back there. With his background in technology, he saw the potential of digital photography early and invested a small fortune in one of the first professional digital cameras, even though it only shot 1-megapixel photos at about 3 fps. Lloyd convinced the 49ers to hire him to provide digital coverage. “I was able to get instant images and get them out quickly instead of having to scan film in and wait for a few days,” he explains.
Lloyd’s role with the team grew along with digital technology, and in 2014 he left his IT career behind to work full time for the 49ers. He produces a wide range of coverage for the team, from portraits and marketing images to stadium event photos. But while he enjoys the variety, nothing beats the thrill of shooting a game.
These days, he covers every game equipped with five 20.2-megapixel DSLRs sporting lenses from 24mm to 600mm. He and the 11 photographers on his crew load their cameras with SanDisk CFast cards so that they can capture the action at up to 14 fps without a hitch. “We shoot anywhere from 10,000 to 18,000 images a game,” says Lloyd. He has relied on SanDisk memory from the beginning to meet the demands of a job that doesn’t offer second chances. “I know it’s going to work,” he explains. “That’s why I’ve been with SanDisk for so long. I don’t mix and match.”
Lloyd still achieves success by thinking ahead. “They don’t give me the plays,” he says. “You’ve got to anticipate what’s going to happen.” No matter what turn the game takes, he’s ready for it. And if you ask him what he anticipates most? Seeing his team win the Super Bowl one day, naturally. “My ultimate dream as a photographer is to capture that winning moment,” he says. When that day comes, nothing will keep him from getting the shot.
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–Sponsored by SanDisk