Some people may be surprised to learn that 20-year-old SUNY Cortland communication studies major Brandon Todd was flown out to New York City last week to work as a professional photographer for NFL Super Bowl events.
But his presence in connection with the world's biggest sports event was really just his next logical step.
Todd, of West Hempstead, N.Y., not only was among the official photographers chosen to capture the Super Bowl’s greatest moments, but also has been a member of the New York Jets football operations team since he was in 10th grade of high school.
“I decided to attend SUNY Cortland because my father told me about their excellent sport management program and I felt as if that would potentially help me secure a job with the New York Jets or any other professional organization,” said Todd, a sport management minor.
Todd’s father has worked on team security for the New York Jets, a team closely affiliated with SUNY Cortland. Since 2009, SUNY Cortland has been the official university partner of the New York Jets and the site of the team’s summer training camp.
Todd, whose trip was sponsored by Panasonic on behalf of the New York Jets, was thrown into a packed, football-filled schedule from the moment he arrived in New York City.
For three of the five days he worked at the 50 Yard Lounge Event, which took place at the One Penn Plaza in New York City. Starting Wednesday and lasting all the way until the day of the big game, the 50 Yard Lounge Event was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that provided guests with a blend of food, football and music. Celebrity chefs and football legends were present.
“I was the only photographer at the 50 Yard Lounge Event so it was a huge responsibility,” Todd said. “I had to make sure that I was catching priceless, candid moments of the 200-plus guests that were in attendance.”
On Thursday, “Mike & Mike,” the hosts of ESPN’s popular sports-talk radio show, recorded a live show at the 50 Yard Lounge Event. And on Sunday, ESPN radio personalities Michael Kay, Don Lagreca and Ryan Ruocco spoke on a live show before leaving for the game, Todd said.
Todd also worked the Jets House, which was next door to the 50 Yard Lounge Event. The Jets House, located on 33rd Street in New York City, was filled with famous celebrities, NFL players and dedicated fans who kept the Super Bowl festivities going early into Monday morning.
“When I went over to the Jets House there were two or three other photographers present but we were all there to achieve the same goal, which was to capture the best moments of the night,” said Todd.
Beginning as only a hobby in 10th grade, Todd grew a strong passion for photography but did not consider it a serious profession until he was a senior in high school.
Todd made the ambitious decision to launch his own business at the age of 17 and, since then, his work has been professionally published six times in newspapers and magazines such as Newsday, The Source and XXL.
Of the six times Todd’s work was published, he said he is most proud of three: the high school basketball game images he snapped as a teenager that appeared in his hometown newspaper; a photograph of rapper Big Sean that made it into the hip-hop magazine The Source; and last year’s Kendrick Lamar Spring Fling concert images, which were posted on multiple hip-hop websites and blogs.
Aside from capturing images of the New York Jets, Todd considers himself a freelance photographer who will shoot pictures of just about anything, from music concerts to fashion to young children.
“What I love about photography most is that I have the opportunity to show life through my own eyes,” said Todd.
On Feb. 7, Todd will release his first, self-published book, titled “My Story” and featuring poetry and issues that Todd feels are prevalent in today’s society, including racism, sexism and discrimination.
“I wrote the book for the people and to present poetry as an art form,” Todd said. “I feel like poetry is so under-appreciated in today’s generation and I just want to bring it back to where it once stood in the art world.”
With famous rap artists such as Wale and Pusha T supporting his work, Todd feels confident about the release of his book and is excited to see what is in store for him in the future.
Rather than limiting himself with the title of photographer, Todd prefers to consider himself an artist.
“I really feel art is the one aspect of life that helps connect the world,” Todd said. “A life without art is a life without meaning.”
Todd was grateful for this past weekend’s opportunities and only hopes that his artistic ability will be published for the world to see.
“All in all, it was a great weekend. I got to take pictures, enjoy good food and music and reconnect with my New York Jets family,” Todd said. “Everyone in the organization is amazing and they truly look out for me. I appreciate each and every one of them.”
To find more on Brandon Todd’s photography, poetry, blog and book information, visit his official website at Branndannart.com.