A lot of antiquated technology seems to be making a comeback as of late. This time around it’s not vinyls or a typewriter, but a very, very old camera. Before digital, and even before 35mm film cameras, there were large-format cameras that used metal plates to produce photographs. These cameras, known as tintypes, date back to the 19th century, and were some of the first cameras used to take photographs. The process was first developed by Adolphe-Alexandre Martin in France in 1853, and patented in 1856 in the United States by Hamilton Smith. Smith’s patent and process would go on to popularize photography in the United States and make it more readily available to the public.
Joni Sternbach, an American photographer, uses both large format film and early photographic processes, such as the tintype, to create contemporary landscapes and seascapes. These photographs are taken from her series titled, “Surfland,” where Sternbach traveled to beaches throughout both the US and Australia to create a truly timeless photographic series. Sternbach said her goal was not to create nostalgic images from the tintype-era, but to use historic materials to make new images never seen before. Sternbach first started this series back in 2002 when she was taking photos in Montauk, New York.
Pictured above, you can see the 19th century tintype camera that Sternbach uses in her series. She works with this large-format camera and a wet photo process that must be prepared and developed on location, meaning that Sternbach must bring both camera and darkroom into the field. Fortunately for her, Sternbach said all of the equipment draws people in, and ultimately helps her find more potential subjects for her photographs.
To see more of this stunning photographic work by Sternbach, visit her gallery at http://www.jonisternbach.com/gallery_surfers.html, or scroll through the photos below.