The College Years: 1968-1970
I attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo for the final three years of my college education. Having joined the staffs of the the campus newspaper (Western Herald) and the yearbook (Brown & Gold) in 1968, my skills as a photojournalist began to be honed. I became Chief Photographer for the 1970 school year, and graduated at the end of December 1970. These were tumultuous times that included the Kent State killings and many Vietnam War protests, with the baby-boomer generation smack dab in the middle of it all.
The Port Huron Years: 1971 - 1979
Upon graduating from WMU with a degree in Industrial Management, I was hired as a photographer by the Times Herald in Port Huron Michigan, a seven-day-a-week publication. It served Michigan’s eastern thumb region, from Bad Axe to Anchor Bay. Guided by award-winning Chief Photographer Ralph Polovich, my photojournalism and darkroom techniques made significant advances. I learned perseverance from the pressure of daily deadlines, acceptance of odd working hours, and being prepared to “jump and run” to a police or fire call at a moment’s notice.
The Peplin Photographic Years: 1979-2021
I resigned from the Port Huron Times Herald at the end of 1978 and moved to Detroit, looking for a new challenge. My invented company, Peplin Photographic, quickly came to be. Cold-calling businesses in Detroit got me portfolio showings, and within six months I was eking out a modest living. Clients came and went, but I retained a core of faithful customers, even through the hard times of the recession. The photos here are an attempt to illustrate the wide range of commercial work that I have done on behalf of a group of clients that I am forever grateful for.
The Famous and/or Infamous
My work as a photojournalist and commercial photographer has allowed me the opportunity to meet and photograph many well-known people from all walks of life. Some of these are very famous, some are perhaps recognizable but obscure, and some are only locally known in the Detroit area. A few will probably make you cringe. Including those characters in my collection does not mean that I like or endorse them. I was earning a living, that's all. Everyone is equal in the photographer's eye.
This is the City as it has evolved, from old to new, from ugly to beautiful, and back and forth. This is my Detroit, but it’s not everyone’s Detroit. As a professional photographer, I am including those buildings, scenes and particulars that I have had the opportunity to capture in the course of my work. Yes, there is plenty that you will not see here, many missing pieces and places. It's a big city, and no single person can get it all.
Automobile Design as Art
This is my over-the-top collection of auto-related images, mostly hood ornaments, styling details, logos, grills, names and colors that best illustrate the skills and talents of the designers and artists involved. All were captured at auto shows and museums in the Midwest, and include those built from the earliest days of the motor car industry to fairly current models.
A modest collection of the earth at its best
Oh, The humanity! This is an assortment of faces and human situations from all over, without any particular theme or story.
"Off the Wall" Art and Artworks
This is a personal collection of fantastic talent on display, mostly seen on the walls of buildings in the Eastern Market neighborhood. My photos are not art, artistic, or original. I claim no credit for what you see here. All of that should go to the real artists with spray cans, paint brushes and innate creativity. I am merely recording and preserving their art for more people (and future generations) to see and appreciate. Some of these pieces have already been painted over, never to be seen again. A perfect example is the stunning native American on the cover of this section by Detroit artist Sintex, already painted twice over as of 2022.
A Wild Variety of Everything Else
These are images that don't easily fit into a category, have any strong significance or meaning, nor carry any weight as fine photography. Many are a little artsy, some are just plain funny. I hope you will enjoy looking, pondering, and laughing at what is no more than a little visual candy.
The Last Days of Eastland Center
Eastland Center in Harper Woods, MI was developed and opened in 1957 by Hudson’s as an open-air mall. It was enclosed in 1975, and became the go-to mall and gathering space for many thousands of east siders from 1975 until about 2009. Four parking lot shootings that occurred between 2010 and 2017 frightened away the bulk of the mall’s clientele, and it was never able to recover. Eastland will be demolished in 2022 after years of slow decline, to be replaced by a group of warehouse structures. I began regular sessions of “mall walking” at Eastland whenever the weather was too cold, hot, rainy or wintery, so I was able to document the dramatic decline in 2020 and 2021 during those walks. These photos are mostly from my cellphone camera, but still capture many of the shuttered storefronts and odd manikin displays that portray a deliberate urban culture. On many occasions, the pure emptiness was eerie. I could often walk the entire one-mile circuit without seeing a single person other than a wandering security guard. If a mall could be a ghost town, Eastland was on its way to being one. My photos are mere documentation of a dying shopping mall, and do not purport to be great photography. There’s a lot of mall-style architectural beauty that will be destroyed very soon, and I’m saddened to see it being tossed away.