Childhood walks in the woods inspired Delaware photographer [video]

Eric Zippe’s father took him on walks through the woods as a child, and it sparked a lifelong love of nature.

A lot of photographer Eric Zippe’s work revolves around trees, Delaware trees to be exact. Eric grew up on a farm near Blackbird State Forest, when there was downtime on the farm his father would take him for walks. “He would teach us how to identify trees by their bark, by their shapes,” Eric said.

Those walks were a gift from father to son and started a lifelong love of nature and trees. Eric has an exhibit of his work at the Mezzanine Gallery, located inside the Carvel State Office Building in Wilmington. “I’m going to dedicate this show to my father, this show for me is in his memory.”

Eric wanted to be a painter, but he started using a camera to capture images of the trees and it kind of stuck, “It became my medium.” Eric did eventually begin painting, but his paintings are more abstract. “If I want to do realism, why not a photograph,” Eric said.

You would be excused if at first glance you thought Eric’s photographs were paintings. Often mounted on wood, metal and of course paper, the pictures have a fine art quality to them. “Sometimes I’ve printed stuff on the paper, but than I put it onto the wood and it just sings, the image comes alive,” he said.

In our digital world exploring the physical world often takes a backseat. But for Eric, “There is something to experience the splendor of a tree in person to hear the leaves rustling or just the smell that comes up around the dirt.”

Even in the wintertime when “the leaves are off the trees, there’s no flamboyant colors and stuff like that,” that is when many photographers stop taking pictures of trees. Not so fo Eric. “For me the soul the essence of the tree comes alive.” For Eric the true character of the tree is only visible in the winter.

Eric not only wants you to enjoy these works but also, “the joy that I get from the creation and the making of it.” To get these works out for people to see and appreciate, that’s Eric’s goal. “If it’s not seen and it’s not put out there, I’m just making it for myself,” and that’s fine with Eric, but he would rather have you see them.

“The biggest thing I want is to expand what is thought of as photography,” Eric said.

A sense of beauty, a sense of awe, these are feelings Eric hopes his trees can bring out in you when you view them. “For me that’s the biggest reward i get as an artist that I get somebody to take their time and just, wow.”

 

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.