There’s nothing like a massive storm to make you feel like a powerless speck at the mercy of nature and its temper tantrums. The fear of thunder and lightning storms–astraphobia–is among the 10 most common phobias in the United States.
Far less prevalent is the kind of lust for extreme weather seen in storm-chaser Mitch Dobrowner, who’s been snapping awe-inspiring photographs of monsoons, tornadoes, and massive lightning storms since 2009. His new book, Storms, with an introduction by poet Gretel Ehrlich, features 51 shots of these tempests in stunning black-and-white.
“I see the storms as living, breathing things,” Dobrowner tells Co.Design. “They’re born when the conditions are right, they gain strength as they grow, they fight against their environment to stay alive, they change form and mature as they age–and eventually they get old and die. Sounds familiar.”
In these photographs, storms really do take on human-like character: clouds loom like smoke monsters, spasms of lightning resemble lit-up skeletons. “I want to get a photograph of a storm that I can hold up to the storm, and say, “What do you think?’ And the storm would be, like, ‘Okay, you got me!’” he writes in the book’s afterword.
Dobrowner says he’s been enthralled by storms ever since his childhood in Long Island, New York. “I have so many fond memories of being caught in thunderstorms,” he says. “The rain, the lightning, and the smell. I have never have been scared of storms. I’m just fascinated by them–especially when I’m standing in front of one.”