The Usual Conversations: Joni Sternbach

Everyone has a story to tell. Equipped with only an iPhone, we set out to uncover them all for The Usual Conversations, a new ongoing video series. An extension of our print editions, we started “Conversations” in our own backyard, Montauk, speaking to the individuals that make this “drinking village with a fishing problem” so special.

In an age of photographic advancements, Joni Sternbach keeps it old school, using one of portraiture’s earliest processes to capture surfers in their natural element. On a bluff in Montauk one late afternoon, Sternbach watched the clouds part, light flood the horizon, and low sun bounce off the ocean surface. It was the shot of a lifetime—until surfers entered her frame, enjoying a majestic moment of their own. The happy accident gave life to her tintype portrait series, “Surfland.” After begging (literally pleading) Joni to take our photo, we turned our lens on her to learn more.