This week I get to feature one of my favourite storm photographers, Craig Hilts! I’m so excited! Last winter I went to a trade show here in the city and happened upon this booth with some of the most amazing storm photos I have ever seen. Craig was so welcoming and super friendly. I spent several minutes chatting with him and trying, very hard, to pick A SINGLE photo to take home. It was a very hard choice. I could fill my house with his photos and still find more that I love! On that note, I currently own five of his amazing prints! The fifth one just arrived last week and I could not be more thrilled to now own one of his beautiful metal prints!! (Thank you Craig!) I’ve really enjoyed chatting with Craig and getting to know more about his passion for storm photography and I’m glad I get to introduce you all to this great guy!!
Hey Craig, thanks for being willing to answer these questions for me! Tell me, what drew you to storm photography?
It was just something I always wanted to do. I have loved storms since I was pretty young and always wanted to get into photography but for some reason it just never happened. I would always head out to watch a storm roll in but never really actively chased them until 2006 when I bought my first really good SLR camera and I caught the storm chasing bug.
I’m so glad that you did! Do you consider yourself a storm chaser or photographer?
I actually self taught myself both starting at the same time, so really I’m both a storm chaser and photographer. I certainly love taking pictures of some of natures other incredible moments like aurora and space events, the frost of winter etc but no matter what storm chasing and photographing storms is my biggest passion.
That’s awesome! Maybe you could teach me! 😉 Is there one storm that stands out to you as one you will never forget? Can you tell me a bit about what made it special?
Really every storm is memorable for me and each one is special in its own way. I would say Pipestone, Manitoba on June 23, 2007 as my most memorable storm. I had been chasing for just one year and this was my first big long distance chase and I witnessed the Pipestone F4 tornado.
That would be amazing!! What do you feel is the best and worst thing about chasing?
The best thing about chasing is getting to witness first hand some of natures most incredible inspiring moments. There are so many aspects of storms that just leave me in complete awe. The worst part about storm chasing is unfortunately sometimes these same incredible moments can adversely impact people, destroying property and injuring or killing people. I never want to see anyone get hurt and this is what drives me to not only chase but help warn people or be a spotter for weather professionals.
I’m so grateful for the warnings! So, what is your goal when you go out chasing?
I have a lot of different goals, certainly to get a great image to share with other people but also to help warn and be a spotter to Environment Canada or the National Weather Service in the US to help get warnings out faster or provide more accurate information.
Those are awesome goals! When you go out do you have a team of people that you usually chase with or does it vary?
A few years ago a fellow chaser named Gunjan Sinha and I would always end up running into each other on the same storm and we go talking and decided last year to team up and chase together. It is great because working as a team we can share costs, ideas and each of us brings a different perspective. Gunjan and I have the same philosophy when it comes to chasing and not only do we work well as a team but we have a lot of laughs on the road which is important as it is a lot of hours in the car together.
I bet you guys have a lot of fun! During an average season, how many hours do you log on the road?
I have never really kept track of hours but I would say a lot. I know this year we logged more than 30,000kms chasing storms.
Wow! That’s a lot of hours! You often seem to be in the right place at the right time for amazing photos, but I’m sure it’s not always that way. On average, how many shots will you take of a storm?
I would say on average I come home with about 200 shots all together and from that I have about 10% that are keepers and I will select maybe my favourite 5 to share.
I know you probably hate this question… but what is your favourite photo or photos?
I really love just about all of the pics and sometimes its is hard to narrow down but Here are my top 5 not necessarily my best pics but each one of these is special to me for a particular reason.
Please check out Part Two here!
**Click on any of the photos above to get to Craig’s AMAZING website!
**Also, here’s how you can follow Craig and his amazing talent!
Instagram @ prariefirephoto
Also, check out my other Chaser Chats HERE!