Joni Sternbach is a native New Yorker. She holds an M.A. in Photography from
New York University/International Center of Photography and a BFA from the School of Visual Arts. She has held teaching positions at NYU and been a visiting artist at Cooper Union. She is founding faculty at Penumbra Foundation where she currently teaches and is on their advisory board.

Sternbach uses both large format film and early photographic processes to explore the present-day landscape, and to make environmental portraits. Her work centers on our relationship with water, and how as humans, we observe, relate to, and interact with the earth’s oceans. Because her work is so intrinsic to connective bodies of water, it taps into environmental issues like climate change and its accompanying effects.

Her long-term projects involve the pursuit and understanding of the western landscape and the series SurfLand, which captures portraits of surfers in tintype.

Her video projects: Surfing in Other Languages (2017) and Making Pictures (2023) depict surfing from unconventional perspectives. SIOL’s gathers voices from around the globe speaking the work ‘Surf” in their native language and pairs it with footage from the Yale Surf Team. MP is a multi-channel project using GoPro video strapped to Sternbach’s tripod during the process of making a tintype and records both the ambient footage and the story.

Sternbach’s involvement and experimentation with historical and alternative processes began in the early 1990s and was part of her teaching curriculum at NYU where she worked for over 15 years as an adjunct professor. The Untitled Silhouette series, a feminist-based riff on Muybridge’s nude studies of females from The Human Figure in Motion, furthered her work with concept, process and platinum printing.

Sternbach’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout the United States and abroad and was included in the seminal exhibition, Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort at MoMA. Her photographs are held in several public collections including the High Museum, LACMA, The Nelson-Atkins Museum, MoPA, Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, France, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston to name a few. She is the recipient of several grants and awards including MacDowell, NYFA, the 2011 Clarence John Laughlin and 2010 Santo Foundation awards.

She is represented in Los Angeles by Von Lintel Gallery, in London by Black Box Projects, and in Cornwall by Circle Contemporary

Click to download resume


2023 The Surfing Landscape Von Lintel Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Salt Horizon Circle Contemporary Gallery, Cornwall, UK
2021 SURFBOARD Black Box Projects, London, UK
2020 SURFBOARD Von Lintel Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 
2019 The Momentary Wave MOAH, Lancaster, CA
2018 Ocean Side Galerie Catherine et Andre Hug, Paris, France
The Momentary Wave Halekulani Gallery, Honolulu, HI
2017 VAST: Sea Salt, Sand, Sky The Harn Museum, Gainesville, FL
2016 Her Wave  Von Lintel Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2015 Surfland Helder Supply, Biarritz, France
Surfland Galerie Hug. Paris, France
2014 The Passengers Rick Wester Fine Art. NYC
2012 Surfland Revisited, 2006-2012 Rick Wester Fine Art. NYC
Surfland Southeast Museum of Photography. Daytona Beach, FL
2011 Sea Creatures Joseph Bellows Gallery
2009 Surfland Peabody Essex Museum. Salem, MA
Surfland Blue Sky Gallery. Portland, OR
Lishui Photo Festival. Lishui, China
Surfland String Room Gallery. Wells College. Aurora, NY
2007 Surfland Edward Cella Art + Architecture. Santa Barbara, CA
2006 New Photographs Kenise Barnes Fine Art
2004 What is This Heaven East Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
1992 Untitled Silhouettes Julie Saul Gallery, NY

Selected Group Exhibitions

2024 California Gold. Berggruen Gallery, SF, CA
Whose Waters. San Louis Obispo Art Museum, SLO, CA
2023 UCross Gallery The Shape of Time curated by Keith Davis
2022 The Art Show, NYC November 3-6, 2022
2021 Fergus McCaffrey Gallery, Barbarian Days
High Museum of Art, Underexposed: Women Photographers from the Collection
2020 Black Box Projects, London, UK, Into The Blue
HCP, Houston, TX, Keeper of the Hearth
University of New Mexico, A Yellow Rose Project
2019 Black Box Projects, London, UK Fundamentals 
Shelburne Art Museum, VT Time Lapse: Contemporary Analogue Photography
Bullivant Gallery, St Louis, MO California Dreamin'
2018 JP Morgan Chase, Paris Photo Special Exhibition at Paris Photo This Must Be The Place
Circle Contemporary Gallery, Wadebridge, England
Von Lintel Gallery, Los Angeles, CA Talk To Me
L. Parker Stephenson Photographs, NYC Coast To Coast
2017 Panopticon Gallery, Boston, MA  At Sea
Pingyao Photo Festival, China. Old School/New School
Huntington Beach Art Center, Women in Surfing: Art & History. 
2016 National Portrait Gallery, London, UK Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2016
MOCA Jacksonville, FL Retro-spective: Analog Photography in a Digital World 
Candela Gallery and Books, Richmond, VA  Unbound 5
Museum Belvédère, Heerenveen, Netherlands. Arena, Noordelicht Photo Festival
Musée de l'Elysée|Memory of the Future 
2015 Gallery at the School of Design at Mount Ida. Newton, MA New Visionaries: Photographers Who Bridge Art + Commerce
2014 Rick Wester Fine Art. NYC Not Long Hidden
2013 The Fralin Museum of Art. Charlottesville, VA Looking at the New West
The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. Kansas City, MO About Face: Contemporary Portraiture
Light Factory, Charlotte, NC Sometime Other Than Now: Alternative Processes in Contemporary Photography
United Photo Industries, Brooklyn, NY Drawn To Water
2012 Candela Books & Gallery. Richmond, VA Unbound
Santa Barbara Museum of Art Portrayal / Betrayal
Rick Wester Fine Art. NYC AIPAD, PULSE
Photo Center NW. Seattle, WA surFACE: Contemporary Wet Plate Collodion Portraiture
2011 Rick Wester Fine Art. Miami, FL PULSE Art Fair
Joslyn Art Museum. Omaha, NE American Landscape: Contemporary Photographs of the West
Jennifer Schwartz Gallery. Atlanta, GA Wet Plate and Mirrors: Photographers Working with Historical Processes
The Palos Verdes Art Center, Palos Verdes, CA Surf's Up
Museum of Ventura County. Ventura, CA Splash: Celebrating Ventura County Beach Culture and Ocean-Inspired Art
Maison Européenne de la Photographie. Paris, France L’Objet Photographique
Bric Rotunda Gallery. Brooklyn, NY Water Water Every Where
Houston Center for Photography. Benefit Auction
2009 Bonni Benrubi Gallery. NYC Hot Fun in the Summertime
Scheinbaum and Russek Gallery. Santa Fe, NM Summer's Amost Gone
Sue Scott Gallery. NYC We're All Gonna Die
Edward Cella Art + Architecture. Los Angeles, CA Transforming Photography
NY Photo Festival. Brooklyn, NY All Over The Place curated by William Ewing
Clark Gallery. Lincoln, MA Float
2008 RayKo Photo Center. San Francisco, CA Into The Ether
Pulse Art Fair. NYC Artware editions at the VIP lounge
23 Sandy Gallery. Portland, OR Resurrection
2007 Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum. Santa Barbara, CA Glass Love: Contemporary Art And Surf
Silvermine Guild Arts Center. New Canaan, CT SPECTRA '07: National Photography Triennial
Kinz, Tillou + Feigen. NYC By Invitation Only
Edward Cella Art + Architecture. Santa Barbara, CA Welcome to Our Neighborhood
2006 Chicago Art Source. Chicago, IL Nostalgic Noir
Lennon, Weinberg Gallery. NYC Wallpaper Lab
Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Houston, Texas Photo Forum
St Louis Art Museum. St Louis, MO Recent Landscape Photography: The Intimate and the Sublime
2005 Jenkins Johnson Gallery, NYC Inaugural Exhibition
Foley Gallery. NYC When We Were Young
Photo Eye Gallery. Santa Fe, NM OnLine/OnSite
2004 Senior and Shopmaker Gallery. NYC Permutations on the Picturesque
Hofstra University. Hempstead, NY Where the Island Begins
Lehman College Art Gallery. Bronx, NY Images of Time and Place: Contemporary Views of Landscape 
1994 Paul Kopeikin Gallery. LA, California Hidden Faces
Art In General. NYC Little Things
1993 Triangle Theater, Long Island University. Brooklyn, NY Body And Soul Collaborative Installation
University Of Texas at Austin A Second Look: Women Photographers at the HRHRC
1991 Museum of Modern Art, New York Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort
1988 Houston Center For Photography. Houston, TX The Other Catalogue
Bayfront NATO Center for The Arts. Erie. PA Totem Polemic Or, The Family Emblem
1986 Stokker Stikker Gallery. NYC Two-Person Exhibition
Light Work Gallery. Syracuse, NY Three-Person Exhibition

Grants, Awards and Residencies

2023 Uncommon  Art Residency
2020 Yucca Valley Material Lab
2018 MacDowell Colony Artist in Residence
2016 National Portrait Gallery, London. Taylor Wessing Award, 2nd Prize
2013 Ucross Foundation. Clearmont, WY
2012 Ucross Foundation. Clearmont, WY
Kimmel Harding Nelson. Nebraska City, Nebraska
2011 Clarence John Laughlin Award. New Orleans Photo Alliance
The Art Park. Byron Bay, NSW Australia
2010 The Santo Foundation, Artist Grant
Center for Land Use Interpretation. Wendover, UT
2008 Photo Lucida Hard Cover Monograph
Center for Land Use Interpretation. Wendover, UT
1992 Polaroid Artists Support Grant
1987 Light Work. Syracuse, NY. Artist In Residence Grant
1982 Creative Artists Public Service

Public Collections

The High Museum of Art
LA County Museum of Art
MOCA Jacksonville
National Portrait Gallery, London, UK
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Peabody Essex Museum
J.P. Morgan Chase
Tate Museum of Art, Library Collection
Maison Européenne de la Photographie. Paris, France
Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Washington, DC
The Cleveland Museum of Art
St. Louis Art Museum
University Of Texas At Austin. Harry Ransom Center
Polaroid International Collection
Bibliotheque Nationale
International Center Of Photography
Center For Photography at Woodstock
Light Work

Curated Exhibitons

Reimaging Likeness + Landscape. Penumbra Foundation March-June 24, 2022


Master Of Arts. Photography 1987 New York University/International Center of Photography
Bachelor Of Fine Arts. Photography 1977 School of Visual Arts
Studio Art. 1971 – 72 Goddard College. Plainfield, Vermont
Camp Tintype. 2000 Wetplate workshop with John Coffer
Scully and Osterman Studio. 2002 Wetplate Tutorial


Penumbra Foundation
Medium San Diego
Visiting Artist: Cooper Union 2014-2016
Adjunct Instructor in Art: New York University 1986 – 2007
Adjunct Professor of Art: Queensborough Community College. Bayside, NY 2001 – 2002
Adjunct Faculty: Bergen Community College. Paramus, NJ. 1999 – 2000
Instructor In Art: The American School In London 1996
Wet-Plate Workshops: 2003 – present:
International Center of Photography
Houston Center for Photography
Utah State University, Caine College of the Arts
Peabody Essex Museum
Silver Eye Center for Photography


Kissing A Stranger – Monograph 2022
As Much As – artist Book. 
Surfboard – Monograph 2020
Keeper Of The Hearth by Odette England
High Tide Montauk Point, artist book 2019
Surfing by Jim Heimann published by Taschen 2016  
The Memory of the Future, published by Musée de l’Elysée edited by Tatyana Franck 2016  
Surf Site Tin Type, published by Damiani Editore – Monograph 2015
The Passengers published by Cafe Royal Books 2014
Promise Land published by Cafe Royal Books 2013
The Photograph Not Taken by Will Steacy 2012
Face to Face: Ocean Portraits by Huw Lewis-Jones 2010
SurfLand, published by Photolucida essay by Phillip Prodger – Monograph 2009
Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort by Peter Galassi – published by MOMA 1991


Our website address is When you subscribe to my mailing list you will only receive occasional newsletters about exhibitions and publications related to my artwork. Your privacy is important to us and your information will never be shared.


photograph by Ben Barnick