Photographing Big, Fluffy, Ominous Clouds with Camille Seaman

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Camille Seaman is a professional photographer who also chases storms. Her work has been featured in many galleries and most recently she took to Kickstarter to fund her latest project. Camille will be doing what she loves: chasing storms and capturing them on camera in a series that she is calling, “The Big Cloud Project.”

We talked to Camille about storm chasing and the dangers of the job.

Phoblographer: What first made you want to go out there and capture footage of these giant storm clouds?

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Camille: It was a suggestion made by my eight year old daughter (at the time) who saw me looking at the tv with “that” look and she said, “Mom, you should do that.” Three days later I was. I don’t ever claim credit for having ideas, or brilliant projects. I basically ask the universe which way it wants me to go, and I look for the openings, the opportunities. My daughter is a wise young woman. I had no idea what Storm Chasing would reveal to me, but it has been epic.

Phoblographer: When you really think about it, what you’re doing is very dangerous. How do you stay so composed and think with a clear head to deliver such stunning photos and how do you prep before you attempt to do something like this?

Camille: Life is dangerous, and if you do it right yes, at the very end you have scratches and patches and bumps and bruises, I see more people who are afraid of living than they are of dying. This thing we call life is an amazing gift. A REAL opportunity to see as much as you can feel as much as you can learn as much as you can. So many people allow fear to prevent them from truly experiencing life. Too many people live in such tight confines, all self defined. I am not one of them, I do not feel fear in the way most people do. Yes I feel fear but I never allow it to inhibit my movements, my desire. In fact, that fear inspires me to lean in towards it, push through it and discover things about myself and what I am truly capable of.

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Staying calm and relaxed in the face of potential danger is something I learned when I surfed. If you tense up as you are getting worked underwater by a wave, you only increase the potential for injury or death. Instead relax, stay calm, slows your heart rate, makes it much easier to make better decisions and come out ok. Freaking out NEVER helps any situation.

Phoblographer: What do you use to capture these clouds? Your Kickstarter says that you want to bring a 4×5 camera this time.

Camille: Since 2009 I have been using a DSLR. I want to make larger prints. The 4 x 5 may not work just because of the time factor, but it’s worth trying.

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Phoblographer: How do you go about finding clouds like this?

Camille: I chase with experienced meteorologists who use a software program that receives live streaming Doppler Radar overlaid on a GPS grid so that we can see exactly what the weather is doing and which roads will put us in the best position. There is a ridiculous amount of driving entailed in chasing, along with bad food and dodgy hotels and motels.

Phoblographer: You’ve just had the Big Cloud project funded on Kickstarter. Congratulations! Do you think you’ll be calling yourself a professional storm chaser now?

Camille: I have been a professional chaser since 2008. The first time I chased I was a paying tourist, I asked if there were any spaces available on future tours and the owner of the company asked if I could drive, so I was paid to chase. The kickstarter campaign has been absolutely impressive. I am so grateful to the 222 people who backed me and are making this summer’s chase possible.

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Phoblographer: Are you looking to do any video while your on the road?

Camille: Film making is a very different discipline than still image making. I do make some film clips while I am out chasing, and I have been asked to keep a video journal for Canadian Discovery Channel, but my first passion is to make still images.

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Phoblographer: How do you plan on marketing and promoting the work that you produce from this project?

Camille: I am very fortunate that many outlets have their eyes on me and the work I am making. I never worry about how I will market the work or promote it. I have some momentum and for me the key is to maintain relationships and keep that momentum.

For more you can follow Camille on Facebook or her website.

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