Sternbach received her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts and a MA from New York University and International Center of Photography in 1987, where she taught for over a decade. She is an advisory board member and founding faculty at Penumbra Foundation in NYC, where she teaches wet plate collodion. Joni Sternbach lives and works in New York City. 


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, contrasting some of the most desolate deserts in the American West to iconic surf beaches around the world.


Sternbach's work is held in many international and public collections including the National Portrait Gallery in London, Joslyn Museum, MOCA Jacksonville, Nelson Atkins Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She is the recipient of several grants including NYFA and CAPS and Santo Foundation. Sternbach recently released the self-published monograph Surfboard, which was exhibited June 2021 with Black Box Projects in London.



Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE

Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, Florida

Tang Teaching Museum, Saratoga Springs, NY

MOCA, Jacksonville, FL

National Portrait Gallery, London

Peabody Essex Museum

J.P. Morgan Chase


The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

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

The Cleveland Museum of Art

St. Louis Art Museum

University of Texas At Austin. Harry Ransom Center

Bibliotheque Nationale. Paris, France

International Center of Photography

Center for Photography. Woodstock, NY

Light Work. Syracuse, NY

Polaroid International Collection

Victoria and Albert Museum National Art Library

Tate Museum of Art Library Collection

Los Angeles County Museum of Art