What You Need to Become a Storm Photographer

When you envision a storm-chasing photographer, the image of someone with a camera strapped around their neck, frantically running through an open field towards a whirling vortex might come to mind.  

In reality, things are usually much less dramatic.

Which type of storm photographer do you want to be?

Most storm chase photographers fall into one of two camps. The first type is a devoted storm photographer who works with researches and other chasers to seek out and chase after storms. The second type is more of a hobbyist storm photographer who will try to capture storms that arrive in their area.

The second type of photographer is far more common.

Storm chasing doesn’t quite pay the bills, so if you are thinking of making it your full-time job, you may want to rethink that. Even if you earn some income by selling your photos, your expenses will be numerous: car costs, hotels, food and equipment add up quickly.

The gear you need

  • A DSLR camera is obviously your first priority.
  • You’ll need a wide angle lens (18-28mm) as well as a telephoto lens to make sure you can capture any kind of shot you need.
  • For photographing clouds, a polarizing filter is needed to give them more depth and reduce reflection.
  • Keep your camera safe from water damage with a waterproof case.
  • Get yourself a small tripod and a large tripod for setting up indoor and outdoor shots.
  • A laptop with photo editing software is essential to be able to quickly turn around storm images to sell or share online.

The strategy behind getting storm photographs

Getting good storm photographs revolves mostly around strategy, but also a little around luck. Out in the field, you have to find an ideal spot that is far enough away from danger, but close enough to capture a good shot.

You likely won’t have a lot of time to fidget with your camera settings when there is a storm to photograph. Get to know the ins and outs of your settings so that you can quickly navigate through them when the moment arrives. Storms are notoriously difficult to capture and move around erratically, so be quick and take lots of pictures. 

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Written by
Johnny Rodgers
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Written by Johnny Rodgers