You may know Emily Griswold Templeton on Instagram as @emilyseeks—specializing primarily in showing love to the city's less-loved, dilapidated buildings and highlighting their beauty. But recently she's delved into a new genre of photography with her new account @emilyweeps, which explores the creepy, cold side of Cincinnati in a visual exploration of cemeteries, sculptures, and vintage art. We took a moment to talk to Emily and explore a little more about what her process is with her newest endeavor in visual art, poetry, and expression.
Cincinnati Refined: This account came about fairly recently; how did things get started with this sister account to @emilyseeks?
Emily Griswold Templeton: The type of photos I share on @emilyweeps are photos I’ve always taken alongside the ones I share on @emilyseeks, but I kept them to myself. More recently, though, I thought it would make a fun collection to share with my friends and fellow gravestone/architecture/city texture lovers. There’s something about a variety of textures and tones lined up next to each other that sparks my imagination, and inspires me to explore more.
CR: How did you first get into photographing the shadowy, darker sides of the city? What specifically drove you to start photographing in cemeteries and the sculptures that correspond with that overall atmosphere of photography?
EGT: I’ve always photographed the darker, more mysterious, and gritty sides but just didn’t share them. Regarding cemeteries: being the daughter of a keen family historian, graveyards have always been a part of my life. My father was always really good at pointing out fascinating images on stones, beautiful fonts, and instilled in me an appreciation for the life of people who lived before us. Not too long ago, I needed a peaceful place to unwind and unload the weight of the world, so I went to the cemetery. While I was there, I made it a mission to look for interesting texture. I found texture, for sure! I also noticed the abundance of sculpted flowers and faces, symbols of hope, and figures of beauty (even a mermaid!)—really ornate and intricate works of art that would not be there if it hadn’t been for some tragedy or loss.
CR: Where do you draw inspiration for the imagery for this account?
EGT: Bob Cassilly of the City Museum once said, “The point is not to learn every fact, but to say, ‘Wow, that’s wonderful.’ And if it’s wonderful, it’s worth preserving.” The flowers sculpted in memory of a loved one, the intersection of bricks in an alley where people walked 100 years ago, and the earth filling in a crack as if healing a wound—these are all wonderful to me. So I collect and “preserve” them in my photos.
CR: Is winter one of your favorite times to photograph for @emilyweeps, since everything is typically in natural grey and white scale?
EGT: Winter is my favorite time for ANYTHING! But, when it comes to photos for @emilyweeps, cloudy days are the best—regardless of the season.
CR: In this vein, you previously described @emilyseeks as colorful and full of life; is there a reason you chose to parallel the themes?
EGT: I think @emilyweeps is just as colorful as @emilyseeks, but @emilyseeks is color you can readily see while @emilyweeps is color that must be patiently observed. The subjects of @emilyweeps (the hidden, the changed, the picturesque and uncontrollable effects of time) all must be consciously observed, so it feels right that the color in these macro photos is not entirely obvious at first.
CR: Each photo usually has a corresponding quote or excerpt from different poets across the ages. How do you infuse poetry and photography together so seamlessly? Why these poets with these photos?
EGT: I quote Emily Dickinson the most on @emilyweeps which might seem like an obvious choice for someone photographing and sharing mostly gravestones, but her ability to sum up a thought or feeling about something so massive and heavy like TIME and ETERNITY (or DEATH) is just too good to pass up or write off as obvious. Whether it’s Dickinson or another poet, the lines I choose are always directly related to the emotion I’m trying to portray in the photograph.
CR: Is there a process you have when you go to different cemeteries to shoot? Do you pick different spaces based off of certain attributes? Walk us through your process a bit.
EGT: I have yet to go to a cemetery strictly to take pictures. I’m always there to wander first. This is the same circumstance when I’m just taking a city walk...it’s always about the walk and any interesting finds are simply bonuses along the way.
CR: Where do you see things going with the direction for this account?
EGT: Like @emilyseeks, this account will likely evolve slowly into whatever direction feels right at any given moment, but I do hope to focus more on both city and nature texture as well as more varied color studies.
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Check out the photo gallery above for Emily's work, and give her a follow on Instagram.