On first glance, Joni Sternbach’s photographs look like they’ve dropped straight out of the Victorian era. In fact, these photographs were taken in 2013.
By using the historic wet-plate collodion process – more commonly associated with portraits of Victorian gentlemen – Sternbach gives her photos a unique air of mystery. Only the wetsuits and surf stickers betray the fact that these photos were taken in the past year.
It’s by no means an easy process. Images have to be processed within ten minutes of being taken, so this involves setting up a mini-darkroom on location – complete with the elaborate processing chemicals that come with it.
However, the result is striking. Rather than snapping her subjects in action, these surfers stand rooted to the spot like anthropological studies, their ankles disappearing beneath the incoming tide. In a sport as dynamic and transitional as surfing, this is Sternbach’s way of capturing a moment in time.
You can view more of Sternbach’s SurfLand series here.
Photographs by Joni Sternbach