Lonely Planet Writer

Female stormchaser turns the world's most dangerous weather into stunning photography

This female stormchaser feels at home in the most precarious weather you can imagine.

SOUTH DAKOTA, USA: partial mammatus clouds with lightning emerging from underneath.
SOUTH DAKOTA, USA: partial mammatus clouds with lightning emerging from underneath.

Photographer Bonny Flemming (35) from South Dakota, USA pursues the most interesting and dangerous storm clouds passing through her home-state, as part of her quest to capture the most extraordinary photos possible. “I put myself out there to witness the raw power of nature,” said Bonny. “Nature doesn’t care about any individual so it is important to know how to exist within the limits. It’s ok to push to the edges but imperative that you know where the lines are and not to cross them.”

SOUTH DAKOTA, USA: Supercell with light emerging from both sides.
SOUTH DAKOTA, USA: Supercell with light emerging from both sides.

Bonnie’s extraordinary shots range from a potentially deadly supercell storm and mammatus clouds to a rare lightning strike through a rainbow. She even captures herself casually putting her feet up while watching a fast-moving tornado.

SOUTH DAKOTA, USA: Rainbow and storm emerging underneath cloud.
SOUTH DAKOTA, USA: Rainbow and storm emerging underneath cloud.

“I do this because I think storms are amazing, dangerous, fleeting and vulnerable and powerful. They are the definition of the word ‘beautiful’. But capturing something beautiful doesn’t always mean capturing something that makes you feel good, it just has to make you feel, it can be heart breaking, gruesome or phenomenal.”

SOUTH DAKOTA, USA: Lightning hitting rainbow.
SOUTH DAKOTA, USA: Lightning hitting rainbow.

For Bonny, storm photography is more than a profession or a hobby, it’s an obsession. She explained what it has been like to be one of the only women in a male dominated community. “I’ve never really sensed any sort of injustice or inequality, I think if anything there is an instant amount of respect,” she said. “I have never felt like being a woman is a disadvantage in this field.”

SOUTH DAKOTA, USA: supercell cloud with view of fence.
SOUTH DAKOTA, USA: supercell cloud with view of fence.

“Storm chasing is spontaneous by nature, it’s fluid and unpredictable. However, if we don’t take the risks, we won’t ever get those great experiences.”

SOUTH DAKOTA, USA: Sunflowers in view of sunlight when supercell subsides.
SOUTH DAKOTA, USA: Sunflowers in view of sunlight when supercell subsides.

“Even in a precarious situation as long as you are educated, informed and alert you can enjoy what the other side of the ‘risk’ line has to offer. I have always said, there is a very fine line between being brave and being stupid. The difference is not dying or getting hurt.”

Bonny hard at work.
Bonny hard at work.

(Media Drum World)