Palo Alto native and Gunn High School grad John Todd grew up in the shadow of Stanford sports and even sold malts at Cardinal football games. But as John cheered from the bleachers, he never imagined that one day he would be on the field in the thick of the action and better yet, he would get paid to do so.
Managing sports photography for Stanford…and Cal
Today John and his wife Annette Shelby are the co-owners of International Sports Images, the official photography supplier for Stanford Athletics, the University of California Berkeley sports, U.S. Men’s and Women’s soccer teams, and the former Maverick’s Big Wave Surfing contest. John has also been the team photographer for the San Jose Earthquakes since the team’s inception in 1996.
Student athletes make the job fun
“Being on the field is such a treat and a blessing every time,” John said, “But meeting the students is really the best part of the job. These young athletes aren’t jaded at all- they look you in the eye with genuine excitement, and it’s fantastic to take their photos.”
He’s been lucky to meet players like former Cardinal and current Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who once commented about John’s role photographing both Stanford and US Men’s soccer, ‘Boy do you have a fun job!!'”
A start in freelance photography launches a lifelong career
John got his start as a freelance photographer for the Palo Alto Daily News, and then for the Associated Press, where he photographed a wide range of Bay Area subjects including sports, business, politics and more. “I remember meeting Gil Amelio when Apple was at its absolute low point,” John said. “It’s fun to have been part of cool moments like that.”
A smart move in 2002 predicted America’s growing interest in soccer
John shot a variety of sports for the AP but after he covered the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea, he decided to buy International Sports Images (www.isiphotos.com), an archive of 50,000 soccer photos. John and Annette created a searchable web database for the images, attracted photographers from around the world to contribute shots and have grown the archive to over 800,000 sports photographs. ISI is heavy on soccer images, which has been fortunate as interest in the sport has grown so much with the success of the U.S. teams.
“This past summer, we shot 10,000 images for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada,” John said. “It was great to be part of the big win by the U.S. women over Japan.”
With a Olympic gold medalist mom, being around sports runs in John’s family
Perhaps being close to the action is in John’s blood as his mom, Anne Cribbs, won a gold medal in swimming at the 1960 Rome Olympics at the age of 15, and is well known in Palo Alto as a swimming teacher, a sports marketing expert and an advocate for women’s sports.
Personal photography draws on love of nature and outdoors
Beyond his professional work with ISI, John also continues to pursue his craft as a photographer and especially loves shooting in nature. He teaches a class for Stanford’s Continuing Education program in nature photography that includes a trip to Yosemite National Park, where the students get to try recreating famous shots by Ansel Adams and others.
Instagram heightens the importance of a great image
“I love what I do and I continue to learn more each year,” John said. “I am fortunate to have an amazing partner in my wife Annette and to be involved in the business at a time when the value of professional photography is on the rise, thanks to apps like Instagram. We are excited to be part of the field as it evolves into the future.”