Our students have the chance to get real-life work experience before graduation, and Sydney Arroyo, '15, had the opportunity to work under one of her biggest photography role models. Arroyo fell in love with photography at a young age and hoped to make it into a career. When she first began searching for colleges, she was unsure if that dream could become a reality. But sitting in Drexel's photo studio during an Accepted Students Day, she heard about the accomplishments of graduates from the photography major and could see her future taking shape.
When the time came for Arroyo to choose her co-op for the photography program, she opted for a late-night sketch show that might sound familiar: Saturday Night Live (SNL). She began watching 10 years ago and was soon influenced by the work of SNL's official photographer, Mary Ellen Matthews, and her outstanding "bumper" shots between commercial breaks of hosts and musical guests. Arroyo knew the best way to learn was to work directly with Matthews on co-op.
One of the highlights for Arroyo at SNL was getting a firsthand look behind the scenes under the direction of Matthews and another NBC/SNL professional photographer, Dana Edelson, who shoots during filming. Arroyo had the opportunity to shoot host Jimmy Fallon and musical guest Justin Timberlake, among other featured celebrities last winter.
Arroyo's time on the SNL set isn't just a bullet point on her résumé; in addition to building and breaking down sets for shoots, she also has online images that she can file away in her portfolio. "NBC featured a couple of my photographs on Saturday Night Live's website, and they credited me!" Arroyo explains. "It was such an exciting moment for me; I told everyone about it."
Arroyo's photographic moment of fame from SNL is one of many experiences supporting her development in photography. Photography majors must complete a photojournalism course and project, with the intention of revealing the subject's story through photographs. Her project took place right on campus at Philly's famous Sabrina's Café on 34th Street. This opportunity allowed her to meet new people and to create an outstanding collection for her portfolio.
Sydney Arroyo's experiences through Drexel have inspired her to become a high-profile professional photographer after graduation next year: with six months of working at Saturday Night Live on her résumé, she's well on her way.