FIRST SURFER TINTYPE, LONE SURFER, 8×10, MONTAUK, NEW YORK 2015; BIDART GROUP, 8×10, BIDART, FRANCE; THE FUTURE, 11×14, 2015 SANTA BARBARA, CA.
At The Art Show last month at the Park Avenue Armory in NYC, the work of Joni Sternbach was on view at the Von Lintel Gallery booth. A write up of the show in The New York Times featured a triptych her tintype photographs titled The Women and The Waves. As a fan of surf photography, I hustled over to see the work, and to my delight Sternbach was there as well.
Surfland is an on-going series of tintype portraits of surfers that represent a unique blending of subject matter and photographic technique. Working with a large-format camera, Sternbach has been photographing surfers around the world since 2006 using this antiquated process. Ironically, Sternbach had no intention of photographing surfers – nor does she surf – until they paddled into her frame one day. The project began as an ocean series. Waving them off, she never expected they would become the subject.
Popular in the mid-late 1800’s, a tintype is actually an underexposed negative created on a chemically coated, blackened metal plate in what is called the wet-plate collodion process. When the plate is exposed to light through the camera, an image develops with transparent areas appearing black because of the background. The overall darkness of the image gives the aura of a vintage photograph. Read More