ISSN 1545-2859




               ERIN ZAPLETAL

Artist's Statement

I am a writer and fine art photographer living in Warren, Michigan. I have studied photography for over six years, first in college at Wayne State University, then on my own. I had gone to WSU to become a news reporter, but photography found me in my junior year. It was obvious, after my first class, that I was madly in love. I felt a bit odd amongst all the artists, but found the artist in myself, which changed everything.

I almost changed majors, but it was too late-I needed one more class to finish my degree. So, sadly, I had to close the door on school for awhile. I missed black & white terribly and refused to shoot any until my dad agreed to let me and my husband (at that time, he was my boyfriend) build a darkroom. We worked for about six months, and it’s far from perfect, but it is mine. After that, I was shooting again at a feverish pace and taught myself new things all the time. Three days before my wedding, my dad asked me to keep the darkroom at his house-I had originally planned on moving it to my new house. He said that he wanted an excuse to see me (we’ve always been close, best friends actually) and what daughter could refuse such a request? So it stayed, and probably will stay indefinitely. I’ve been lucky to have such supportive parents. They saw how much it meant to me, and what I was doing with it. My grandfather was a photographer as well, and my mother says she still remembers the smell of the chemicals. I’m teaching her everything I know, and she is really blossoming as an artist.

I have a B.A. in Journalism, and run a marketing office during the week. I teach photography classes at the local college on weekends. I’d love to teach fulltime one day. It is so rewarding to to impart my knowledge to others and help the students discover the artist in themselves. It’s not at all unlike my first experiences in photography. I discovered a side of myself that I never knew existed, and was able to create some amazing images. I’d like to pass that along to the future generation of photographers.

I enjoy most photographic processes, but especially like traditional black & white. I feel that it can be just as beautiful as color, except in its own way. With black and white images, you are looking at what’s really there, in its raw form and that can be simple, yet elegant. I try anything and like to discover things that others haven’t or may overlook. I love to juxtapose different images for a striking a different look. I was known at WSU for my haunting, sometimes bizarre images.

My focus when shooting for fine art is to reveal a slice of life, or show something from a new perspective. I frequently use myself as a model and I feel it is an ongoing exploration process, to figure out who I am. I favor more experimental techniques such as digital montage, multiple exposures, and special films and processes. I feel I can shine light in dark spaces, create something new, and reveal places and things unknown.

When I’m not teaching or taking pictures, I enjoy writing poetry, working on my novels, and running an online group for Tarot readings which I’ve been involved in for over ten years.I’m currently designing my own Tarot deck, tentatively titled “Soul Visions Tarot.” I am married to a fellow artist. Pavel and I are truly a New Millennium couple. We met on the internet, the Hotmail Classifieds to be exact. He found my ad first; then, a few weeks later, I found his….I had no idea the sweet guy I was emailing was him. What’s even more interesting is that his family was about to move from Northern Michigan down to my old neighborhood. It was truly our destiny to find each other. Pavel is from the Czech Republic, and came here when he was 11, and ended up practically in my old backyard.

Pavel and I were a good match, he being a musician and a painter, and me being a writer and photographer. We had a little agreement early on in our relationship, before we got serious-I would teach him photography and he would teach me drums, as I’ve always wanted to learn how to play an instrument. I never thought I’d ever get the opportunity, but there it was, right in front of me. I never talked about it. I just made an announcement after I’d gotten pretty good at it. The family was excited for me, but no one was more excited than my dad, who used to play bass in his own band –and our little band started taking shape. It is something I’ve always loved, jamming with my family, and it’s something that will continue to sustain me for many more years.

Pavel learned photography quite fast. He loves color and abstracts, and has a wonderful eye for it. He has really honed his craft and I couldn’t be more proud of him. One of my favorite things is when we go out shooting together. We do our own thing, separately, but in some small way, our souls intermingle, and feed of each other’s creativity. I’ll never forget our shoot over our first anniversary weekend. We took rolls and rolls and rolls of film. I’d never felt closer to him as I did that day …. how years seemed to unfold, and it was us, just us-- connected, married, and living art.

I’ve had many photographs published in various magazines such as Pif, Limestone Circle, Circle Magazine and Maelstrom. I’ve also had my photos exhibited at the London Calling Gallery in Roseville, Michigan, and my third show is on February 22nd. I have my work showcased on my website, an exposed soul, located at http://www.geocities.com/ericon22/.

Discovering photography has been an unexpected detour in my life, and I will continue to follow it for as many years as I can, wherever it may lead.

Copyright © 2004 Erin Conroy Zapletal. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.