This was 2015

I never know how to cut down on photos for a blog post…my wife does. If I let her at this thing, it would probably be half the size! As it is, I took out a ton of photos I love and kept it under 200. I feel good about that.

This was 2015. These are the photos I love the most and what made up my year. I used to try and include shots from every single shoot or wedding I did, but I’m unable to do that now as things have gotten busier and more widespread. But from personal work with my own family, to weddings, to portraits, to road trips and of course the storms, this spans the entire year.

All photos are shown in the order taken as well.

The year began with a big snowstorm that even produced flurries in Phoenix on December 31st, so we went out to enjoy it on New Year’s Day. From there it was engagement sessions, a road trip with my buddies, weddings, spring storm chasing, more weddings, the summer monsoon and ends on a volcano in Nicaragua!

So many amazing things happened this past year, but the biggest of all was it being my first as a full-time photographer. I quit my job a year ago in November and haven’t looked back. Best decision I’ve ever made and am so proud of that accomplishment.

Hope you enjoy this look back!

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One of the more beautiful places close to Phoenix to shoot sunrise is ironically Sunset Point up on the plateau north of town. Beautiful rolling hills, flowing grass...peppered with cactus here and there.

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A low layer of fog flows over Horseshoe Bend during an inversion over northern Arizona that lasted for several weeks.

A hazy night out in Monument Valley in early January, 2015.

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While watching this storm roll across eastern Arizona, we dubbed it a "snoboob" because it had all the appearances of a dust storm but instead it was pure white. Even the time-lapse of this makes it look like a haboob. Whatever it was...shelf cloud, gust front...it was gorgeous to watch, especially as it eventually overtook us and enveloped our area in fog and hail.

A strong winter frontal system rolls through eastern Arizona. The wave of clouds from the right was almost like a wall of white dust rolling over us.

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On the way to a two-day storm chase in the plains, I stopped for a few hours sleep north of Las Vegas, New Mexico. The Milky Way was in full display and I had to capture a picture of Vera with the stars blazing behind her!

I watched this supercell start off as simple towering cumulus and two hours later it became this beast hovering over the farmlands northwest of Pampa, Texas.

This storm earlier spawned a brief tornado near Groom, Texas. It moved to the east/northeast across the rolling farmlands...I caught up to it once again here just north of Alanreed. The hail core and structure was magnificent to behold.

This supercell north of Interstate 40 had some nasty rotation on radar which you can see up ahead over the middle of the road. A possible tornado was in there but no one ever saw it.

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Probably my favorite photo from spending 14 days on the plains in the spring of 2015. This intense, nasty looking supercell was approaching Lamar, Colorado with a tornado warning and huge hail. This was an image I didn't even edit or remember I had taken until well into the summer. What a surprise to stumble upon it.

The beauty of storm chasing is seeing structure and organization in clouds that appears unnatural. When you look up and just know...something wicked this way comes.

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Standing here, near Bledsoe, Texas on the night of May 29th...it felt like I had traveled to another planet. The wind, the storm, the lightning...but it was the surreal orange glow everywhere that created this otherworldy mood which I'll never forget.

I had to hold my tripod down as I was being blasted by 40-50mph winds up on the ridge above Billings, Montana. A fantastic light show...major thanks to my friend James Langford who is from Montana, for passing on this location to me!

This was most likely the second greatest supercell I've seen in person thus far. The first was Booker, Texas in 2013...but this guy near Rapid City, South Dakota was incredible. It essentially hovered in one general area for hours...and by the time I finally punched the core and got in position to photograph it, the structure was amazing.

A decaying supercell hovers over the Rapid City, South Dakota area, dropping rain and gorgeous lightning bolts.

On a long, lonely highway between Merriman and Hyannis, Nebraska...a huge MCS moves by, leaving behind it wet roads and a gorgeous sky filled with mammatus clouds. A bit of lightning snakes around on the left side of the storm.

Another image from this gorgeous little supercell near Aurora, Colorado on June 3rd, 2015. My chase was over and I was heading home to Phoenix after having been in Wyoming all day and busting. I crossed my fingers for some weather on the way through Denver and sure enough some cells exploded over town and I was able to hang out with this guy, time-lapse it for a long time and get a bunch of lightning. A sublime way to end a 12-day chase!

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For me, there is nothing better than an isolated thunderstorm at night. But this storm...it had the moonlight shining down to really show the structure and to top it off, the updraft was actually rotating, which is somewhat rare for Arizona. You can see circular motion in the tower. which adds some drama to this shot. Really added to the scene for me, maybe it a bit more special than normal.

An incredible, severe thunderstorm late in June, which is early for the monsoon to really get going, explodes over the Santa Rita Mountains. The storm itself looked like a plains supercell at times, even with a brief wall cloud. This lightning bolt is hitting on Mount Hopkins near the Lowell Observatory. The title comes from the little bird somehow flying up high in some crazy intense winds...seemingly having no earthly reason for being there.

In the wee hours of June 3rd, 2015, I captured the most amazing lightning strike of my career. Photographed by Mike Olbinski at 12:50 AM.

An early morning thunderstorm over the Superstition Mountains on July 3rd delivered a couple of magical lightning strikes. This one in particular is one of my favorites...a single, powerful bolt landing at almost the highest point of the mountain. I'm a huge comic book fan and if anything looked like the arrival of Thor from Asgard, this is it.

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The last few years have shown me that the Wickenburg/Morristown area is a serious hotbed for lightning. I captured this the morning of July 6th, around 2am. I left my house about five hours earlier, then chased all morning and shot sunrise over Phoenix as the storms rolled into town. One of those all-night chases that I did at least 2-3 times this summer. I love this stuff. This was taken just north of Morristown where I ran into my buddy Nic Leister, who always seems to be nearby when it's a night like this.

At first glance this photo has a lens flare, some powerlines crossing the frame and a pretty blown out bolt. But what I captured in this image of lightning that I never even knew until a few experts noticed it...were upwards, positive streamers on the right bolt. Streamers come up from the ground and one of them meets the downward strike to complete the bolt. The other streamers are eqaually as dangerous and are what make lightning so deadly. A streamer can kill you just the same as the main strike. Getting streamers like this in a still photograph is incredibly rare, and I had no clue how rare until a few lightning experts noticed it and started analyzing it. Amazing capture for me!

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A lone bolt of lightning strikes the Sierra Estrella Mountains northwest of Maricopa, AZ. This downpour was awesome to watch as it just cascaded off the mountains.

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I was in Avondale when storms looked to be dying out, but way out west I thought I saw a base just hanging out there...so I went for it. Finally as we neared Tonopah the cloud tops went up and the bolts started raining down. One of the most incredible lightning shows I've seen. Lasted for 45 minutes, created strong dusty outflow and had some amazing colors.

A heavy band of rain partially obscures a lightning bolt west of Tonopah, Arizona

There is nothing more gorgeous than a simple thunderstorm dumping rain over a thirsty desert...especially when it's in beautiful locations like the Tohono O'Odham Nation south of Phoenix.

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The sun poked through some storms behind me for long enough to add some purple hues to the sky and show off a brief little rainbow. The lightning was intense and close despite it looking far away in the photo. A wide angle lens always makes for deceiving distances. The last bit of sun was lightning up the cholla just enough to make them pop a little.

A beautiful haboob rolls north into the Phoenix area on August 25th, 2015. The wall of dust originated to the south of Maricopa, but gained momentum as it blasted noth and new storms developed along the outflow edge.

Seeing something like this in Arizona is super special, because sculpted mesocyclones like this one are kinda rare. It was amazing to watch this storm spin off the mountains, split apart and suddenly see this gorgeous meso that looked like something you'd see out on the plains during the spring.

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A powerful thunderstorm that dropped heavy rain and pea-sized hail moves off over Dead Indian Canyon along the Little Colorado River. This canyon eventually connects to the Grand Canyon. As the storm departs, water runs through the desert and a stunning rainbow seems to disappear into the canyon itself.

I've been to the Grand Canyon over a dozen times now, but never before have I seen a sunset on fire like this. I went up there with hopes of storms and lightning after dark, but that's almost an impossible ask when you just randomly pick a day to try. But at least I was treated to this amazing sky.

A distant thunderstorm rumbles and throws down tons of bolts west of the small community of Wilaha in northern Arizona.

A huge, powerful positive cloud-to-ground lightning strike lands around Gila Bend on September 13th, 2015. Positive strikes are 10 times more powerful than a normal one, and they tend to originate near the top of a thunderstom and can land up to 10 miles away. On this one you'll notice the rain is actually off to the right of the photo, so this strike was well away from there. One of the deadly aspects of lightning.

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