GQ style cover: photographer Ed Templeton on the set of Jonah Hill
How did skateboarding become your life as a young man?
I lived in Huntington Beach, California which is known for surfing and skateboarding culture in general. As a child, I remember seeing a few kids skating near my house and doing an ollie on a sidewalk. And I just remember being blown away by it. When I was skating I had to stop, pick up my board and put it on the sidewalk, until I saw an ollie and I was like, “Okay, I want to do this.” It was the spark of obsession.
How do you go from putting your board on the sidewalk in your hand to going pro? And you started taking pictures on tour, didn’t you?
Well, in five years I was pro. I started in ’85 and I was pro in 1990. I was immediately immersed in skate competitions and with all the kids around here. So yes, in 1990 I was a pro and started traveling. Four years after I turned pro, that’s when it hit me, “Look at this life you can live. You can travel the world and get paid to do what you love. It sort of coincided with Larry Clark’s sight Teenage lust for the first time and the book by Nan Goldin The ballad of sex addiction. It made me realize: I live a pretty interesting life, I feel responsible for documenting it.
Is it true that your first cameras were disposable, or is that just some apocryphal artist biography crap?
No, I mean, I think I have a Canon AE-1. Once I realized I wanted to do it, I wanted to use a good camera. There was a tendency at the time to shoot everything in point-and-shoot mode. Just the camera flash. But I still sort of hated the way these [photos] look at. I really wanted the Cartier-Bresson style in black and white, Larry Clark, Garry Winogrand.
In the filming of this issue, many tools that you use in your artistic practice are present: text, wash, collage. What made you start playing around with these things, and what guides you when you feel like painting or washing a photo rather than just making a pure black and white image?
Yeah, there are sort of two photography schools, I guess. The traditional way is for you to take your photo and that’s it. You’re not kidding with that. But I’ve always been a huge fan of people who do more with their photography. Artists like Jim Goldberg. David Hockney spent the 80s making photo collages. All subsequent work by Robert Frank, past Americans, scratched negatives, made prints and wrote on them, painted on them. So for me, of course, I’m going for this iconic photo. But when that fails, for example, you can still use photography – maybe painting or writing something on it brings it up from that mid-range and back into the correct range.
What is the first memory that comes to my mind from our day of filming? In the top.
Oh darn. My first thought was just confusion. I don’t do a lot of filming so when I got there I couldn’t even find the trailer. I was just in the parking lot and there was no cell reception in Malibu so I looked around I literally got lost until someone came to find me.
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