Michael Rhodes Spotlight


Jordan Mowday

Michael Rhodes tests a camera that was recently returned to the Equipment Room by a student

Don’t let the tattoos, shaved head and graying ginger beard scare you off from saying hello to EvCC’s self-appointed “social butterfly,” Michael Rhodes. Despite the mimicries of his appearance, the smile underneath Rhodes’ facial hair is welcoming and genuine.

Michael Rhodes, Photography/Journalism Instructional Tech and EvCC alumni (Jordan Mowday)

An EvCC alum, Rhodes has recently taken the position as the Photography/Journalism Instructional Tech here at the college. As he inspects a recently returned lens in the Equipment Room, Rhodes recounts his time before becoming a Trojan.

A 21-year Army veteran hailing from California, Rhodes and his wife have since made their home in Bellingham. After retiring from the military, he turned his attention to the camera his wife had given him, “I really need to figure out what f-stop is [which refers to a fractional representation of the lens’ aperture setting].” Rhodes recalls, “Let me find a school that has a good photography program.” Settling on Everett Community College after hearing positive reviews, his journey of life through an eyepiece was about to begin.

“The broad spectrum of classes that I took was so amazing,” Rhodes shares, turning his thoughts to his now-coworkers, “I met Ellen Felsenthal and it all went from there.” From Professor Felsenthal’s informative but stern guidance to Thom Lee’s lectures on color theory, Rhodes had found a new passion in photography.

Kendra Aragon-Lynch and Keith Bailey pose in front of their classic car as part of Mike’s student project. Photo courtesy of Michael Rhodes.

Rifling through a stack of glossy prints in his office, Rhodes displays some of his own work. A class project had called for the use of studio lighting techniques, and he saw it as a prime opportunity to flex his new creative talents. In an alley not far from the school, Rhodes set the scene for his favorite picture to date. “We lit for about fifteen minutes,” he shares, a smile building while describing the vibrantly-dressed model and show car she was leaning on, “I loved it and I was like ‘Oh, I could do this for the rest of my life.’”

Art is subjective, and being able to explain your art as the creator is a crucial skill Rhodes developed through critiques. “When you have this diverse crowd they’re all not going to see your vision for your photo, but you see it,” he says. Carrying over from his time in the military, Rhodes discusses how crucial he believes etiquette is. “If you’re going to have a conversation with a person, you need to sound like you know what you’re talking about.” Art students at Everett Community College participate in these critiques as part of the curriculum, and Rhodes highly encourages everyone to check one out.

Michael Rhodes inspects a lens for dust and damage before returning the equipment to the school’s inventory (Jordan Mowday)

After a five-year hiatus in Texas, Rhodes has returned to EvCC to assume the role as the Photography/Journalism Instructional Tech. Situated in Whitehorse Hall, the equipment room can be found by its unique roll-up door. Reflecting on last quarter, Rhodes shared “The first week here really opened my eyes to what the pandemic had done to the education system. It was heartbreaking… I didn’t know what I could do for that but I was just an ear, so that was good.”

Everyone may enter Whitehorse Hall with varying artistic experience, but Rhodes revels in the chance to share what he knows. As he put it, “If I can help someone turn on that switch, man that’s money.” Rhodes encourages students to say hello at either his office or the Equipment Room, and make use of the #evccphoto hashtag on Instagram, “If they’re out taking cool pics of the school or of themselves or an event, load them up and I’ll definitely see that.”