His subjects are nude adolescents and their families, primarily taken at communes in Northern California and at the Atlantic-coast naturist resort CHM Montalivet in Montalivet, France. Much of his work features Californian Misty Dawn, whom he shot from when she was a young child until in her twenties.
His work has been the subject of controversy in the United States. In 1990, his San Francisco studio was raided by FBI officers and his equipment seized. A grand jury subsequently declined to bring an indictment against him. In 1998 unsuccessful attempts were made to have his books The Last Day of Summer and Radiant Identities classed as child pornography in the U.S. states of Alabama and Tennessee.
His published collections include
- The Last Day of Summer (1991, Aperture, NY) ISBN 0-89381-538-1
- Radiant Identities (1994, Aperture, NY)
- Evolution of Grace (1994, Gakken, Tokyo)
- Jock Sturges (1996, Scalo, Zürich)
- Jock Sturges: New Work, 1996-2000 (2000, Scalo, Zürich)
- Jock Sturges: Twenty-Five Years (2004, Paul Cava Fine Art, Bala Cynwyd, PA)
- Jock Sturges: Notes (2004, Aperture, NY)
- Misty Dawn: Portrait of a Muse (2008, Aperture, NY)
- Jock Sturges Life Time (2008 Steidl)
- Jock Sturges Fanny (2014 Steidl)
Other noted publications include
- Montage (Graham Webb International)
- Standing on Water (1991, Catalogue of Portfolio published by Paul Cava Fine Art, Philadelphia)
- Jock Sturges Color (Catalogue of Portfolio published by Ataraxia, Bensalem)
- Line of Beauty and Grace (2007 Amadelio Films)Documentary
Limited edition portfolios of original photographs
- Standing On Water (Paul Cava Fine Art, 1991, boxed portfolio of ten oversized 20x24 inch gelatin silver photographs)
- Jock Sturges: Twenty-Five Years (Paul Cava Fine Art, 2004, boxed portfolio of ten 11x14 inch gelatin silver photographs)
- Jock Sturges Platinum Edition of 10 signature platinum photographs (Russell Levin Gallery Monterey California 2007)
His photographs also appear as cover art on three novels by Jennifer McMahon, Promise Not to Tell, Island of Lost Girls and Dismantled, as well as Karl Ove Knausgård's 1998 debut novel Ute av verden (Out of the World). The band Ride used some of his photographs on different releases, i.e.: the Twisterella and Leave them All Behind EPs.
- "Jock Sturges". kochgallery.com. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- Perring, Christian (2009). "Review - Misty Dawn". metapsychology.mentalhelp.net. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- Beem, Edgar Allen (January 3, 2008). "Catching Up with; The Way of All Flesh". Photo District News. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- Steinberg, David (March 19, 1998). "Naked Truth". Metroactive.com. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- Lane, III Frederick (2001). Obscene Profits: The Entrepreneurs of Pornography in the Cyber Age. Routledge. p. 126. ISBN 978-0415931038. Retrieved February 17, 2013.
- "Obscenity Case Is Settled". The New York Times. May 19, 1998. Retrieved May 22, 2013.