Women rarely go into the landscape with a large-format camera using both film and a 19th-century process called "wet collodion." But, for the past 20 years, Joni Sternbach has done so.
Her photographs capture the vast, similar and sublime terrains of the desert and the ocean―and surfers who ride the waves as meditation.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, Joni Sternbach: Surf Site Tin Type is an homage to a sport, a way of life, and a tribute to the people who practice it. Over the past decade Brooklyn-based photographer Joni Sternbach has traveled around the world, creating tintype portraits of contemporary surfers using the nineteenth-century wet-plate collodion process. Stunning in their detail, these one-of-a-kind images evoke the romance and adventure of surfing, and the bold individualism of the men and women who live to ride the waves. Working with a large-format camera and using hand-poured plates that are prepared and developed on location, Sternbach has profiled a fascinating range of surfers, both well known and unknown, on prized surfing beaches. Locations include Montauk and Malibu in the United States, Byron Bay in Australia and Cornwall in England. Typical surfing photographs are action shots, riding the mighty wave and in vivid color, whereas Sternbach turns to a historic technique to capture something essential and even primordial in the portraits and settings, recalling a tradition of nineteenth-century anthropological photography. Surf Site Tin Type features texts by noted photo critic and historian Lyle Rexer, curator April M. Watson, and Chris Malloy and Johnny Abegg, both well-known surfers and filmmakers.