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.
Sturges primarily works with a large 8x10-inch-format view camera. He has taken some digital photographs but prefers to work with prints.
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.