Acclaimed photographer Camille Seaman continues to combine documentary photography with fine art sensibilities in her new book The Big Cloud. This ongoing series, which we first featured in 2012, sees Seaman taking on the role of storm chaser, pursuing the beauty and destruction of incredible storms across the United States.
Seaman’s foray into storm chasing was fortuitous. Just as she searched for new inspiration after her adventures in Antarctica, her young daughter was watching Storm Chasers on National Geographic TV and called out, “You should do that.” A bit of digging and she found herself on her first storm chasing tour, shortly after transitioning into the role of hired driver. And thus, began a new passion.
“I wasn’t prepared for just how overwhelming an experience chasing can be. It is visceral and multisensory: the smell of the charged particles, the sweetness of the grass, the scent of the pavement just before it rains, the sight of the wind blowing through cornfields,” Seaman writes in The Big Cloud. “Not to mention the colors of the clouds and the light of the sky and the lightning. It’s all so beautiful, so awesome, and so humbling at the same time.”
Over the course of 176 pages, more than 100 of Seaman’s photographs demonstrate the power of nature. Each storm has its own personality exemplified by the rich colors and amorphous shape of the clouds. Through her expert lens, each photograph appears as a landscape painting, literally showing the calm before the storm.
“The appeal of clouds is obvious: no two are the same, and no one is the same for long,” Alan Burdick, science writer for The New Yorker, writes in the introduction. “And they not only manifest change but inflict it as well. A cloud can be beautiful, terrible, or both—the embodiment of the sublime.”