Surf Site Tin Type is an homage to a sport, a way of life and to the people who practice it. Over the last decade, Joni Sternbach has created portraits in tintype of contemporary surfers that put the world of surfing in a completely new light. Stunning in their detail, these unique images evoke the romance of surfing and the strong individualism of the men and women who live to ride the waves. Working with a large format camera and using hand-poured plates, Sternbach has profiled a fascinating range of people, both known and unknown on prized surfing beaches around the world, from Malibu to Montauk, across the ocean to Cornwall, UK to Byron Bay, Australia. Typical surfing photographs are action shots, riding the mighty wave and in vivid color, while Sternbach turns to a historic technique to capture something essential and even primordial in these portraits and settings.

Surf Site Tin Type features texts by noted photo critic and historian Lyle Rexer, curator of photography at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, April M. Watson and champion surfers, writers, and filmmakers Chris Malloy and Johnny Abegg.

Published by Damiani Editore 2015

2nd edition now in stock! You can buy a signed copy here.



“Sternbach makes her photographs in tintype, a labor-intensive technique little changed since it’s invention in the 1850s. Spontaneous and unpredictable, the streaks and tonal variations in the finished photographs reflect their hand-made character, the corners rubbed where they were held in the camera.

Posing on rocky outcrops, in front of uprooted trees, or on thick mats of woody flotsam, Sternbach’s surfers inhabit strange landscapes. The best of Sternbach’s photographs convey insistent longing. They are about relationships – the relationship between surfer and board, between human and landscape, between photographer and subject, and between the surfers themselves…she has discovered a new sort of home – a place without walls, defined only by belonging and the physicality of existence.”
Philip Prodger, Curator of Photography, Peabody Essex Museum

Published by Photolucida 2009

SOLD OUT except in Box Set and limited editions


The Passsengers

The Passengers, Published by Cafe Royal Books 2014

Photographed in the 1970’s, The Passengers documents both individuals and families in moments of unusal isolation and surprising intimacy in one of New York City’s most public arenas, the subway. Edited by Craig Atkinson

36pp., Black and White Digital, 6 x 8 inches.
All copies are signed, limited quantities available, please enquire.


The Passengers

Promise Land

Promise Land, Published by Cafe Royal Books 2013

“Promise Land is a poignant elegy to the ghosts of failure that stalk the American Dream, photographed on the east end of Long Island.” Forward by Naomi Itami. Edition 150. Paperback, 28 pages, edited by Craig Atkinson, July 4, 2013. This publication is part of the Tate Gallery special collection. Sold Out

Only available in Box Set in shop.

Cafe Royal Books

Promise Land