Who comes to mind when you think of great contemporary photographers? Is it the fashion photographers, the sharp shooters of National Geographic or the daring photojournalists? While these artists are indeed great, probably the most influential contemporary photographer is Ed Templeton. Skateboarding fans could point you in the direction I’m heading. This 40 year old local of Huntington Beach, CA has been traveling around the world making art and shredding streets for two decades now. His work is truly worthy of the title of fine arts photography.
Ed Templeton began his professional skateboarding career in 1990 and four years later founded the skateboard company Toy Machine with Tod Swank. Today, Templeton is the sole owner of Toy Machine and does the artwork for the company’s clothing and skateboard products. Templeton was influenced by skaters like Mark Gonzales and Rodney Mullen, who in addition to inventing their own tricks, were designing their own boards.
Even though he has no formal training or Arts degree, Templeton is a painter, graphic designer, and is rarely seen without his trusty Leica AG camera. In the 2008 documentary Beautiful Losers, the camera swings from his neck as he strolls the favorite haunts of his neighborhood. Templeton and his wife Deanna have photographed not only the experiences of their life together, but the sounds and sights of the world around them, many of which are featured in their segment of the documentary.
In 2000, Templeton produced his first photography book Teenage Smokers, which won the Italian Search for Art competition and included a nice $50,000 check for our skateboarding hero. The sister book, Teenage Kissers was released eleven years later to critical acclaim. Curvy magazine’s contributor Katie O hailed it, “a perfect depiction of teenage romance- curiosity, infatuation, desperation to grow up and getting in over our head.”
Templeton has worked with numerous skateboard labels, including RVCA, Sheep, New Deal Skateboards, eswic and Emerica. While creating a promo for Emerica shoes, Templeton suffered a leg injury that threatens to end his skateboarding career. A tad bit of terrible news, but Templeton merely shifted his attention to art and on January 12th, 2013 Roberts & Tilton Gallery held the opening for Memory Foam; an exhibition of photographs depicting Templeton’s impressions of the people of Huntington Beach.
Ed Templeton continues to influence skateboarders, contemporary artist and photographers around the world. Even NPH (Neil Patrick Harris) is a fan of his work. With his new school style of blending street art, skateboarding and photography, Templeton proves that the best inspiration for moving photos can come from the world around you.
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