jump to navigation

Joni Sternbach August 5, 2009

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.

Gillian, Montauk, New York in 2007

Joni Sternbach (b. 1953, United States) graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in photography and completed her Master of Arts degree at New York University and the International Center of Photography in 1987. She has taught for many years and is currently a faculty member at ICP teaching wet plate collodion. Sternbach’s solo museum exhibition SurfLand  opened at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA in May, capturing portraits of surfers in tintype. SurfLand  was recently at the String Room Gallery at Wells College in Aurora, NY and will also be at Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, OR in November 2009 . Her first monograph SurfLand was published in May by photolucida.

About the Photograph:

“I met Gillian earlier that summer when I photographed her with a friend.  For me the success of this picture is in the subtle lighting- early morning overcast, and also her expression–she is gazing into the camera calmly and openly. Because of the low tide all the rocks are exposed and she appears to have either just emerged from the sea or appears to be returning to the sea. The board is an icon of her warrior status rather than a prop. This image is an 8×10 inch one-of-a-kind tintype made with the wet collodion process. Better associated with the Civil War than surf photography, the collodion process is instantaneous and processed on location with a portable darkroom. This way of shooting is integral to the picture making process as it invites conversation as well as collaboration. The series SurfLand consists of several hundred images shot on America’s east and west coast.


1. luke - August 5, 2009

I love the epic character of these tintype photographs. Her surfer series is great.

2. Surfer Hero | erhebung - August 14, 2009

[…] a Civil War hero out of a surfer.  Read more about Stern­bach and her wet plate adven­tures in an article on the Verve Photo blog, or just visit her site.  (There are also a few more of Sternbach’s pho­to­graphs on […]

3. Chris - August 19, 2009

What an absolutely fantastic image. A time machine of a photograph. The tintype effect makes this simultaneously real and surreal – sharp and crisp while retaining some kind of unreal temporal distance and dreaminess. “Epic” is certainly a way to describe it.

Sorry comments are closed for this entry