Fstoppers Interviews Paige Vincent, Extreme Weather Photographer

Fstoppers Interviews Paige Vincent, Extreme Weather Photographer

The Great Plains offer some of the most extreme and jaw-dropping weather on Earth, and those who venture there with their camera are rewarded with some of the most unique and stunning images possible. We interviewed Paige Vincent, a photographer capturing those phenomena.


Warning: storm chasing is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted by anyone without deep meteorology knowledge and experience. Do not attempt what you see in this article yourself.

For the past six years, Vincent has been passionately pursuing storm chasing. Initially, Vincent accompanied friends who were experienced storm chasers, taking on the role of passenger and navigator to safely get close enough to observe tornadoes. This experience allowed her to become well-acquainted with the road networks across the Plains. As a native of Texas, tornadoes had always instilled a sense of fear, yet they were also a source of fascination. After witnessing her first tornado, her obsession was solidified. We spoke with her about her work and experience. 

The Art of Storm Photography

Beyond the dramatic storm structure, what other elements do you look for to create compelling images (e.g., foreground interest, light, color, etc.)?

There's not much to choose from as far as foreground in the plains, but if you can find a windmill, livestock, or the jackpot—an abandoned house—that's all you need to add some perspective and scale to a storm. Sometimes I even leave chaser cars in the shot to tell more of a behind-the-scenes story.

How do you balance capturing the raw power of nature with artistic composition and visual storytelling in your storm photography?

You don't have a ton of time to set up your ideal composition when chasing storms. It's more of 1. park in a safe spot off the road, 2. grab your camera and run, 3. shoot and hope for the best! It is very fast-paced because these storms are moving at around 40–50 mph and you have to stay with them.

Vincent's signature red dress shot, which she tries to get whenever she has time in front of a storm. 

What post-processing techniques do you use to enhance your storm images while maintaining authenticity and realism?

What I love about storms is that they are so unique and eye-catching on their own that they don't require much editing. Sometimes they are even the subject, background, and foreground of my shots! In my editing, I usually only have to bring my raws into Lightroom to enhance the contrast and clarity because when shooting supercells, what's really interesting to me is all of the layers in the storm. The structure of each storm is much more complex than what you see with your naked eye.

Many storm chasers use time-lapse or video. How does your approach to still photography differ, and what unique challenges and rewards does it offer?

I love being able to look at the details in a shot from a single moment in time, to analyze the structure of what was really going on. I still record videos on my phone to capture the speed, wind, and strength of the storm, but photos have always been my favorite way to reflect and share moments with others.

Safety and Challenges

Storm chasing inherently involves risk. How do you prioritize safety while still pursuing captivating shots?

Safety ALWAYS comes first! No shot is more important than your life. I study the way a storm is moving and follow along at a safe distance beside the storm, never in front of it. You always have to keep in mind an exit route as well to escape if the situation takes a turn.

Have you ever faced a situation where you had to choose between capturing the perfect shot and prioritizing your safety? How did you navigate that decision?

Almost every chase. The road network in the plains is not always the best. There is a lot of farmland, meaning a lot of dirt roads. I drive a stock Subaru Outback, and it can do most of the roads pretty well, but if I see mud, I'm avoiding it at all costs. The last thing you want to do is get stuck in mud while a tornado is forming near you. A good way to ensure this doesn't happen is to follow the recommended routes on Google/Apple Maps. They typically will follow paved roads, but it is also helpful to have chased in the plains for 6 years and to learn the road networks there in case you don't have GPS.

Passion and Community

What was your favorite storm? Favorite story?

My favorite storm was April 22, 2022, in Badlands, South Dakota. I knew it was a risky storm to chase because it had a lower probability of producing versus a storm in Kansas and Texas the same day, but it paid off and produced one of the most beautiful supercells I've seen to date.

What initially drew you to storm chasing and photography, and how has your passion evolved over time?

I always used to sit on my patio with my sister and watch storms roll in. We loved watching the lightning and then counting the seconds until the thunder sounded. About seven years ago, I met some friends who were into storm chasing, so I started tagging along and got hooked! It wasn't until a few years later that I finally purchased my own camera and started combining my love for photography and storm chasing.

How has storm chasing changed your perspective on nature, weather, and the world around us?

I am much more aware of how destructive nature can be and how many people are still unprepared for a storm. I love showing people the juxtaposition of how beautiful a storm can be even though it looks terrifying and destructive. The more you understand why a storm forms and how it moves, the more you respect it and can sit back and enjoy it.

What role does the storm chasing community play in your work, and how do you collaborate and share knowledge with fellow photographers?

The storm chasing community is pretty close-knit but has been rapidly growing due to social media in the last 5 years. I love that more people are aware of storm chasing and want to pursue it, but it is probably one of the more challenging hobbies to master. The storm chasing community is one of the most supportive as far as supporting each other's work online and even helping a friend in need during a storm.

What are your future aspirations as a storm chaser photographer, and what message do you hope to convey through your work?

I would love for my work to be recognized on a broader scale and for more people to appreciate this niche hobby of chasing storms. I love that people have different opinions of the storms in my photos: some are in awe of the beauty and some are terrified, but I love bringing people into that moment and having them experience what I felt while capturing it.

Misconceptions and Technology

What are some common misconceptions about storm chasing and storm chaser photographers?

That we all drive tornado-proof cars! My Subaru has had a few cracks, a lot of hail dents, and one new windshield, but it cannot withstand a tornado! Haha.

How has technology (e.g., weather forecasting, communication, camera gear) impacted your approach to storm chasing photography?

I exclusively use my phone for radar and road mapping while I chase, and I'm not sure how chasers even 10 years ago used paper maps and old-school dial-up to look at radar! Technology has come so far and made it more available for anyone to learn how to chase.

Tell me more about Girls Who Chase.

Girls Who Chase is an amazing organization started by Jen Walton, who is also based here in Colorado! We realized there wasn't a huge representation of women in the storm chasing community. The storm chasing community was pretty male-dominated when I started and you didn't hear of many chasers who were women, so through GWC we are able to better connect and share the work and knowledge of women on a larger scale.

How do you navigate the business side of storm chasing photography, including licensing, prints, and other revenue streams?

I only do storm chasing as a hobby. I list my prints on my website for sale, but only because other people over the years have had interest in having them for themselves! I do it for the thrill and to capture amazing memories.

Anything to add?

I didn't see anywhere this would make sense, but a fact I love is that a lot of storm chasers are CPR and First-Aid certified and because we are typically the first to a scene after a tornado hits, we stop to render aid before the paramedics are there.


Vincent was also featured in the new KÜHL clothing brand series "The Road Less Traveled." You can watch her episode below:


Vincent’s dedication to storm chasing and photography underscores the blend of art and science required to capture the raw power and beauty of nature. In a world driven by risk-taking for clicks her emphasis on the importance of respect and safety when pursuing such a dangerous passion is quite refreshing. Her work not only highlights the dramatic elegance of storms but also serves as a reminder of the awe-inspiring force of the natural world. You can see more of Vincent's work and purchase prints on her website, and you can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

All body images used with permission of Paige Vincent. Lead image by KÜHL and used with permission.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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What a fabulous interview, inspiring person, and amazing photographs. I love seeing work and reading about what goes into making unique images from a skilled photographer.

These images make me want to quit my day job and head west!

WOW these are INCREDIBLE!!!! Great interview