Ironstring Photography

San Diego surfing photography, waves, and cycling photography by journalist and photographer Mark Johnson.

Clients range from Microsoft to the The Wall Street Journal, Surfer magazine to The Washington Post.

We do personal surf photo sessions.

Our books include a history of doping in sports and a year traveling the globe with the Garmin pro cycling team.

We also shoot a lot in our north San Diego neighborhood. 

Mark Johnson is an experienced journalist and public speaker who regularly lectures on doping in sport and society, the pro cycling business, and cycling and surf photography techniques. Need a keynote speaker? Let us know.

Represented by the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency

Contact us.

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Surf and cycling photography and journalism

We accept writing and photo assignments in the San Diego area and worldwide.

Our pro cycling work has taken us from the Tour of California to Paris-Roubaix, local cycling sportifs to the Tour de France.

As journalists, we specialize on the history of doping in sports, pro cycling, and the business side of international cycling.

Our services include

  • Surf photography and private water photo sessions
  • Cycling photography including professional race coverage and gran fondo events
  • Lifestyle, music, and social event photography
  • Fine art images for commercial and residential interior design
  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Speaking Engagements

Contact us for pricing or questions about our services.

Photo Galleries

Ironstring photography image galleries

Blacks Beach

Seaside Reef surfing Dec 17, 2023

2023 Challenged Athletes Foundation Million Dollar Challenge

Waterman Challenge Paddleboard Race, July 1, 2023

La Jolla Shores, January 14, 2023

Padres Pedal the Cause, April 9, 2022

Seaside Reef, March 2, 2022

2021 Challenged Athletes Foundation Million Dollar Challenge

Steamboat Springs SBT GRVL Aug 15, 2021

Big Rock Jan 4 2021

Blacks Jan 2 2021

Blacks Dec 20 2020

UCSD Surf Team 1980s

Big Rock Dec 9 2020




Torrey Pines, Del Mar, and La Jolla



Travel and Places



If you saw us at a bike race or at a surf spot but can’t find your photo, contact us and we will look for it.

Surf Photography

Hire us to document you and your friends or family surfing.

Cycling Photography

Since 1988 we have captured the glories of cycling for international and domestic media outlets and product manufacturers.

Looking for bike race photos? You’ll find them here.

Surf and Cycling Fine Art

We maintain a catalog of fine art ocean, surf, and cycling images for licensing for commercial, personal, and interior decorating use.

We print on paper, glass, metal, wood, and even sound-dampening fabrics. Contact us for a quote to brighten your space!


Our clients are local and global

Our clients include:

  • The New York Times
  • The Washington Post
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Microsoft
  • Intuit
  • Sony Music/RCA
  • Marriot Hotels
  • Surfer Magazine
  • Backpacker Magazine
  • Clif Bar
  • Garmin
  • Kashi
  • CamelBak
  • Sharp Electronics
  • Rusty Surfboards
  • San Diego Padres
  • Penguin Books
  • Trans World Surf
  • Hatchette/Quercus Books
  • California State Travel and Tourism Commission
  • Covadonga Verlag Books
  • VeloNews
  • CyclingNews
  • RIDE Cycling Review
  • Surfline
  • Challenged Athletes Foundation
  • Road Magazine
  • Fuji Bicycles
  • Cervelo Bicycles
  • Castelli Clothing
  • Pearl Izumi
  • Kenda Tires
  • Bianchi Bicycles
  • Giant Bicycles
  • San Diego Reader
  • San Diego Union-Tribune
  • Holland Bicycles
  • The Daily Racing Form
  • Competitor Magazine
  • Adventure Cycling Magazine
  • Cycling Weekly
  • Wieler Review
  • Paved Magazine
  • San Diego North County Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • DZ Nuts
  • J.R. Filanc Construction
  • Sheffield Platers
  • Excel Sports
  • 2XU Clothing
  • Har-Bro Construction
  • Squadra Clothing
  • Lezyne Design Bicycle Products
  • Modern Language Association
  • Natural Curves Surfboards
  • Saris Cycling Group
  • Bike Nashbar
  • AMC Outdoors Magazine
  • Editor and Publisher Magazine
  • CitySports Magazine
  • KHS Bicycles
  • Neurology Today
  • Popular Photography and Imaging Magazine
  • Road Bike Action Magazine
  • SKLZ
  • San Diego Unified School District
  • Shutterbug Magazine
  • Tomac Bicycles
  • University of California, San Diego
  • UCSD Department of Orthopedic Surgery

To inquire about our rates and how to benefit from our services, contact us.


Books by Mark Johnson

Spitting in the Soup: Inside the Dirty Game of Doping in Sports

Spitting in the Soup investigates the history of drugs in sport–athletes turning to dope to go faster, longer, and higher. From pro cycling to the NFL, Major League Baseball to track and field, Spitting in the Soup reveals why elite and amateur athletes have always turned to pharmaceuticals. The book also explores why, in a society that encourages the wholesale use of performance enhancing drugs like Viagra and Adderall, it is so difficult to change athletes’ chemical ways. Press coverage and chapter excerpts

Spitting in the Soup: Inside the Dirty Game of Doping in Sport by Mark Johnson book cover

Spitting in the Soup: Inside the Dirty Game of Doping in Sports (VeloPress, 2016)

Argyle Armada: Behind the Scenes of the Pro Cycling Life

Mark Johnson spent 2011 traveling with the Garmin pro cycling team. In words and photos, Argyle Armada takes readers along from early season training camps in Girona, Spain to victories at Paris-Roubaix and the Tour de France to fall racing in Quebec, Canada. Along the way  learn why it is so hard to finance a pro cycling team, why riders don’t form a union, and what it takes to be a pro cyclist. Argyle Armada book review.

Argyle Armada: Behind the Scenes of the Pro Cycling Life, by Mark Johnson
Argyle Armada: Behind the Scenes of the Pro Cycling Life (VeloPress, 2012)

The Art of Spanish Guitar: A Method by Celino Romero

We photographed this book for internationally renown classical guitarist Celino Romero. 
The Art of Spanish Guitar by Celino Romero with photography by Mark Johnson

The Art of Spanish Guitar: A Method by Celino Romero (Amsco, 2007)