EvCC Instructor of 41 years puts light on eight faces of college

EVERETT — Lloyd Weller had a decision to make in 1969.

He could continue flying across the country, exploring farms and ranches as an industry photographer for the John Deere Co., or he could take a job teaching at Everett Community College.

Weller decided he would give teaching a try, but he didn’t expect to stay long.

Forty-one years later, Weller, 67, is the longest-serving member of EvCC’s faculty, and he has no plans to retire anytime soon.

“I can’t imagine anything more honorable than sharing what you know with those who are interested,” he said. “Given all the anger and anxiety in the world today, I can’t imagine being in a better place.”

Weller recently created a photographic tribute to the college he has come to cherish in what he calls “Shared Journeys.”

The eight black-and-white photographs hang on a wall in Olympus Hall in the place of a nondescript bulletin board outside the college’s human resources department.

Each tightly composed portrait, four men and four women, highlights remarkably expressive faces of employees, including instructors, administrators and classified workers.

Although each photo is a portrait unto itself, the faces look toward one another as if the subjects were engaged in a conversation. That’s by design, and Weller said he hopes the theme makes passers-by feel as though they, too, are part of the conversation and more connected to the college.

“They are all so expressive,” said Visakan Ganeson, EvCC’s director for international education and one of Weller’s subjects.

Art instructor Thom Lee was singing an A note when Weller snapped the shutter.

Weller said he created the piece to honor the energy that faculty, staff and administrators bring to campus.

“Everyone has made significant contributions to the college and to students,” Weller said. “We are all part of that shared journey.”

For Weller, the journey through Everett Community College actually began as a student with his first camera, a Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex, bought at a Seattle sporting goods store. EvCC had a well-known photography program that drew students from well beyond Snohomish County.

As a high school student in West Seattle, Weller became enamored with photography, beginning with that first black-and-white image to emerge in the tray of developer by the darkroom’s dim red light. Somewhere, tucked away in his north Everett home, is that first photo, a model tall ship that appeared to float on a sea made up from tin foil wrapped around his mom’s roasting pan.

After EvCC, Weller earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Ohio University, one of the nation’s top universities for photography. As Weller finished his studies, Allen Carter, his former instructor at EvCC, encouraged him to apply for an opening at the college.

He’s also been eager to change with the times and has honed his craft in classes from Santa Fe, N.M., to Denmark. He recognized decades before photography went digital that it was only a matter of time before new technology would take over.

Weller’s classes are constantly full. He likes that they are open to anyone, including 16-year-old Running Start students, young people wanting to transfer to universities, moms coming back to school after raising kids and retirees.

There is something special about the breadth of perspectives, he said.

Weller continues to carry a camera, often creating composite photos. He still finds fulfillment capturing and combining images near and far, be it as close as an Everett sky or as desolate as a stretch of New Mexico desert.

Craig Barber attended EvCC’s photography program beginning in 1976. Today he’s an internationally known fine arts photographer in Woodstock, N.Y. From Weller, Barber got the message: “Follow your heart; follow your vision.”

“He was a very pivotal voice in my career,” Barber said by phone.

In 1970, Jeff Parks was fresh out of the Navy, where he had been trained as a photographer. Weller, he remembered, was a young instructor with experience and credibility among the students.

“I thought I knew more than I did until I took photography classes from Lloyd and then I realized how much I didn’t know,” said Parks, who attended Weller’s reception last week.

Parks remembers Weller as a stickler who tamed his wild side. Parks became a commercial photographer specializing in architecture and later joined the faculty at the Arts Institute of Seattle.

“He has been an important influence on my career,” Parks said. “It is hard to be believe it has been 40 years.”

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com

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