What Makes a Photo Book Tick? Interview with Ed Templeton

Objektiv asked Ed Templeton to document and tell us about the opening of the PhotoBookmuseum. 

Judging from your Instagram account it seems like you’ve had a great time installing and talking with the people involved, what is your impression of the Photobookmuseum? Their ambition is to pay tribute to the central form of expression within photograhy: the photobook. Do you agree with this? 

Templeton: Yes! I think it’s a crazy, ambitious, marvelous thing that Markus Schaden is doing. He is attempting to bring the photo book to life, to dig inside it and find out how it is  created and what the process is for making it.

And the timing, we have longed for a museum for the photo book, I just interviewed Sam Stourdzé who has big plans for Les Recontres d’Arles next year and also wants to give the book a bigger space and include it in the main festival, what’s your thoughts on this? 

Templeton: I think it’s a good idea. Photography itself is amazing and fun to see in person, but most people interact with photography via books , so it makes sense to include the photo book in any festival of photography. Collectors already fetishize the books so much, perhaps the general public should have a chance to understand what makes a photo book tick.

You have stated your love for books in previous interviews, and told us that you have a big collection of them. What is your relation to the book versus the exhibition space?

Templeton: I think they are both very important, but like I said before, many more people will interact with your photography through a book than in a physical exhibition. So for me, I feel very lucky when I'm traveling and get to see an exhibition of a photographer I love, but the reason I love them in the first place was because of a book most likely! I'm fortunate to be able to add my own books to this worldwide trade/conversation via photo books. I do collect, and my library is threatening to spill over into other rooms of my house. I love flipping through photo books, it helps me refine my own photography.

Could you tell us more about your new book, Wayward Cognitions, it is a book that was 20 years in the making, according to the press release? Is this a more personal book?

Templeton: When they say 20 years in the making they mean that I pulled from my 20 years old archive of images for the book. It's not a themed book, or a specific project, the photos are selected from any time period, and do not fit into any series that I'm working on. I wanted to tell a story through street photography about the human condition, and in that way it’s a fairly traditional type of photo book, no bells and whistles, just straight photos. It's about looking at the photos and how they relate to each other and the sequence they are in. I have weaved a story in my own head while making the book that I hope the viewer also sees and feels.

And could you tell us about other upcoming projects?

Templeton: I have lots of upcoming stuff! A painting show early next year, and I am starting to work on my biggest photo book and exhibition yet dealing with the skateboard subculture. But I also have another photo book I'm working on about Catalina Island off the coast of southern California, and probably some zines with the Deadbeat Club.

The PhotoBookMuseum gives a tribute to the central form of expression within photography: The photo book. As a public institution it will create a platform for exhibitions, archives, collections, events and education dedicated to the photo book. To introduce the concept, the Photoszene Köln presents an international exposition at the Carlswerk in Cologne-Mülheim from August to October 2014. The expo is organized by the Cologne-based Schaden.com Foundation..