The Challenges and Thrills of Storm Chasing Photography

Two storm chasing photographers have shared a fascinating behind-the-scenes look into what it takes to get the perfect shot in unpredictable and often dangerous weather conditions. As you can see in the 13-minute video above, this type of photography is not for beginners or the faint-hearted.

Photographer and filmmaker Michael Shainblum has joined forces with his friend and fellow landscape photographer, Nick Page, in their latest YouTube video series as they both travel together chasing storms and capturing surreal and dramatic scenes, while the audience gets to enjoy not just the final result but also the behind-the-scenes look of what this type of photography entails.

Photographing storms and creating timelapses of such unpredictable natural phenomenon isn’t an easy task, however, both photographers attest that witnessing the power of nature is what keeps them so thrilled to be able to do this.

“These experiences are so surreal and some moments feel like they are straight out of science fiction,” says Shainblum. “It was such a challenge to find compositions under such rushed time constraints, but I suppose that was part of the fun.”

Page adds that “the struggle with this type of photography is that you just don’t have much time to scout out an ‘ideal’ composition.” He refers to storm photography as “foreground speed dating,” because photographers have to find something that works in as short a time as possible.

As shared in the video, storms can travel fast, light can change dramatically in a matter of moments, and the photographer has to find the best possible composition within the constraints of time. It’s not simply a matter of luck, however.

Both photographers point out that it is crucial to be aware of the storm’s location, path, and any other potential storms popping up, which also ensures the safety of photographers, not just the outcome of the shot.

“It’s important to photograph these storms from the outside preferably not in the direct path of the storm, but rather just off to the side of the path. For this reason, radar maps — Radarscope, G-maps, and others — are a storm chaser’s best friend,” says Page.

Safety is always a top priority, which is why both Shainblum and Page do not recommend beginners go out and shoot this type of photography by themselves. Instead, the first step should be finding someone experienced in reading storms or joining a storm photography community that can provide support and advice. For example, Shainblum and Page were joined by their friends and a photographer who has years of experience in this field — Mike Mezeul.

“Make genuine connections with other storm photographers via social media,” advises Shainblum. “Become invested in other people’s work and show some support. Plus, it’s a great way to make new friends in the photography community.”

More of Shainblum’s photography can be found on his website and Instagram page, with more videos available on his YouTube. Page’s photography can be viewed on his Instagram and additional videos — including his experiences and perspective on storm chasing with Shainblum — can be found on his YouTube channel.

Image credits: All images by Michael Shainblum and used with permission.