March 09, 2016
Surf Photographers: Joni Sternbach and Trent Mitchell

Surf Photographers: Joni Sternbach and Trent Mitchell

This blog post has a slightly different flavour to it…

Today we will be profiling two artists and fellow ocean lovers, each from different sides of the world who have followed their passion for the wind, water and waves to become internationally recognised and award winning photographic artists.

Between them they have also published 2 of the most remarkable surf photography books which I'm sure you'll love.

Chasing The Curve By Trent Mitchell And Surf Site Tin Type By Joni Sternbach

Surf Site Tin Type by Joni Sternbach Trent Mitchell Photography | Chasing The Curve

If you love surf photography…you’ll love the way these inspiring artists capture the beauty and the drama of the ocean along with the people who live, play and work in harmony with it.


Dave Rastovich, Broken Head, NSW, Australia, 2011 by Joni Sternbach
Dave, at Dave’s Farm, Broken Head, NSW, Australia, 2011

Joni Sternbach a native New Yorker with a love for historic photographic processes, most notably Tintype photography.

A Tintype is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photographic emulsion.

This process was widely used in the 1860’s and 1870’s but has recently seen a revival.

“The process is laborious, time consuming and requires the cooperation and collaboration of my subject.” Say Joni.

“One of the most rewarding aspects to the medium is the immediacy of the image, like the Polaroid of yesteryear. Collodion requires that you coat your plate each time you make a picture. It’s all done by hand, so basically, you are making your own film. This is slow photography at its best. This enables me to work outdoors at a slower pace. The result is a beautiful, handmade, one-of-a-kind object.”

Most recently Joni combined her love for tintype photography with her love of the ocean, creating a collection of images featuring surfers and other ocean dwellers in a raw state.

Surf Site Tintype is the book that displays all of these unique, one-of-kind images and the result is an amazing journey through time that in Joni’s own words captures surfers “who seem fresh and raw and passionate and courageous, like they just evolved straight out of the sea from their fish state.”

See more of Joni’s work here.


Born in Mona Vale, NSW Trent Mitchell spent most of his childhood on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia. From an early age he developed a deep connection with the ocean as a surfer and all-round ocean lover.

It was this love and the curiosity with the light, textures and contours of the waves that would inspire him to pick up a camera and begin a journey that would lead him to being a multi-award winning and internationally renowned photographer.

As time passed Trent wanted to create a collection of images shot on 35mm digital film that would transport people through a powerfully abstract journey surrounding the cyclic moods of the sea, from awe-inspiring seascape panoramas, to dramatically surreal moments in turbulent seas.

Trent Mitchell Chasing the Curve

That collection would become CHASING THE CURVE: A PORTRAIT OF THE SEA.

Here Trent explains the creative process behind the images inside this groundbreaking book.

“Creating a vision in my mind of a particular location and what I can do with that location, that’s the bottom line for all of the images. The second thing is being calm, centred, patient and ready for the picture to happen. If I am swimming you can multiply those factors a few times and add fear in there too on the odd occasion. Quite a few times I have ended up in compromising positions just to get a stupid picture. Obviously the results are worth it, if it all falls into place.

Trent Mitchell Chasing the Curve

Dealing with the ocean, 90 percent of the capture process is out of your hands. Sure, you can operate your equipment and you have choices there, but you are pointing a lens at such an infinitely changeable subject; at every millisecond things are changing and they are completely out of your hands. You have no control over light or your subject. It’s definitely the hardest photographic genre I have shot in that regard. All the factors and decisions are instinctively reacted to in the moment, because that’s where they have to be. You never get a second chance because things are never the same again.”

The risks that Trent took in creating this book were, in the end, well worth the effort and compromising positions when you see the end result, a collection of some of the most impressive and alluring surf photography ever captured in film.

See more of Trent’s work here.

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Thank you for reading, we hope you have been inspired!
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Jacinta Bishop

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