Rocky Mountain School of Photography - Summer Intensive 2002

Graduation Speech - Glenn Voorhees


"What next?" Thatís the question I keep hearing around here. "What next?" Great question, one that deserves careful consideration. Iím not sure itís the most important question though. I think the most important question is "Who next"? As in, "Who are you going to be next?" Are you going to be the same person you were before you got here? Are you going to let yourself be defined by the first 18, 30, or even 60 years of your life? Are you going to fall back into the same old habits when you get home, or wherever it is that you go from here?

People talk about life-changing events and epiphanies. I always question these kinds of statements when I hear them. I think personal development is a choice, a thing we decide to do not something that happens to us. The real life-changing event was when someone told us we couldnít draw, or write, or paint and we believed them and decided we werenít creative. The life-changing event was when we told someone what we really wanted, and they dismissed it, and we stopped daring to dream. Summer Intensive isnít about changing into someone new, itís about letting go of all the misconceptions and fears we have accepted into our hearts, and returning to our true selves.

So who are you going to be next? Are you willing to make some hard choices about the people you choose to be in your life, the people who you let influence you. Are you willing to make hard choices about where you really want to work or live? When you go wherever you go next, and are suffering from withdrawal from this place and these people, will you dismiss all of this as a dream? As "not the real world". Or will you carry this with you, and make the rest of the so-called real world more like this reality. A place where you seek out creative supportive people. A place where you donít tolerate behavior contrary to dreams, hopes, and risk taking. A place where you help the people you surround yourself with, where you let them help you, and where you take care of yourself. Are you willing to rework your reality out there into one more like this one here?

So while you are busy packing and moving and unpacking, calling for assistantships, assigning yourself photo projects, building your portfolio, or maybe even not thinking about photography at all, think about this; "Who am I going to be?" If, when spending time with friends or family, you encounter disinterest in your summer experience or your dreams about photography ask yourself, "Who am I going to be?" When you meet other artists, some more accomplished than you, some less, the ones you look up to, and the ones who look up to you, ask yourself, "Who am I going to be?"

And when things get really hard, and you hear that voice in your head wishing for your friends here, complaining that there is nobody like them where you are, ask yourself if YOU are the person you were here.

The real power of Summer Intensive isnít in what we did here; itís about what we do from here.

SoÖÖ.Who ARE WE going to be?



Self Portrait

A lot of people ask how this was done, so here goes....I shot 3 rolls of Ilford Delta 100 Black and White film in the studio.  I scanned the 36 best negatives and cropped them square using Photoshop 7.0.  I then used a feature in Photoshop called Contact Sheet II to create a single image made up of thumbnails of the 36 files that were scanned.  The final print was made on 11"x14" Heavyweight Matte paper (image size 10.5"x10.5") using an Epson 1280 printer, and .then matted.