© Joni Sternbach.
From SurfLand, Joni Sternbach’s collection of contemporary portraits of surfers photographed on America’s coastlines. Using the historic wet-plate collodion process, Sternbach creates one-of-a-kind tintypes that feel ambiguous, timeless and mysterious. She works with a large- format camera, and because the wet process must be prepared and developed on location, she and her subjects can see the pictures immediately. The elaborate process is part theater and part craft that enables Sternbach to interact with her sitters and other beach goers alike. Working with a wet chemical outdoors also lends itself to spontaneous and unpredictable results. It is precisely this raw quality of the process that suits the subject matter, giving it a distinctive appearance and echoing important traditions of nineteenth-century anthropological photography. Sternbach’s work is on view as part of the group exhibition, Sea Creatures at the Joseph Bellows Gallery until August 13, 2011.