Photographer, skateboarder, graphic designer, artist, business owner. Ed Templeton is an important and influential character. Working as a professional skateboarder in the early 90s, Ed quickly grew a reputation as an artist without any formal training. Since, Ed has created the design for his brand Toy Machine, taken part in several exhibitions and published numerous zines of his photography. His latest publication Make Up Girls is a simple subject that we all either witness or partake in, shot in an outstandingly candid style.
What made you decide to start the Make Up Girls series?
This series, like most of mine, comes from searching my archives rather than having a pre-existing idea that I wanted to shoot girls putting on makeup. There are a number of things that people do in public that I think make for interesting photos, and looking in a mirror, especially to paint your face, is one of those things that I’m looking for as I walk around, among many others. I had done a zine before called Make Up Girls that came from a search for the word “makeup” in my archives. But ever since then I have been more actively looking for people putting on makeup. So this second zine is more of a conscious choice. Maybe in ten years I’ll have enough to make a small book of them.
Where were the photos taken?
The majority of the photos were made on my daily walks down around and on the pier in Huntington Beach, California. There’s a few from San Francisco, LA, and Oregon.
Are you aware of the divided opinion on the subject of women putting on makeup in public?
No! Is there a debate? That’s so strange. People should be able to do whatever the hell they want in public as long as it’s not hurting someone else. If grumpy old men think it’s gauche, they must hate most of what people do in public these days. We all live in our own worlds now anyway, and “public” is just the space we have to cross through on our way to the rest of our lives. Our minds are so buried in our mini computers in a constant state of communication and expression that we forget about what’s surrounding us outside of our bubbles. I think these photos are a peek into someone’s life at a slightly vulnerable time, as they have paused to consider their face and how it looks, deciding whether a correction or touch up is needed.
Do you know the subjects personally or are they people you’ve seen out in public?
I counted 36 photos in the zine, and 10 of them are people I know. So the vast majority of the photos are strangers that I shot without them knowing about it. I can’t imagine trying to stop a stranger and ask them to recreate something I saw them doing, it would look totally staged. I prefer to capture the candid moment I see that inspired me to try and get a photo. That way you are seeing an authentic moment, a real look at life and the human condition.
Did anyone object to you taking their photo?
Not one single person of the 26 candid photos in the zine ever even saw me or knew their photo was taken so there were no objections.
Was it a conscious decision to jump between black and white and colour photographs?
I am always switching back and forth with no real rhyme or reason. I shoot black and white pretty much 90% of the time. Maybe even 97%. I prefer black and white because it strips down everything to just the greyscale. Unless the colour is the point of the photo, I think most of the time it kind of ruins a photo. At least that’s what I feel in my own work. There’s something timeless about using monochrome. But really it’s practical, I have a darkroom, and we don’t do colour in it, so shooting black and white means I can make my own prints.
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.