Fearless photographer chases the beauty in devastating storms

These stunning images were captured by a fearless self-taught photographer, who shoots some of the world’s most impressive storms.

SIMLA, COLORADO, USA

SIMLA, COLORADO, USA

James Smart’s award-winning shots have gained him much acclaim in the photography world, as they feature swirling tornados, looming dark cloud structures, and bright flashes of lightning covering the sky.

The photographer, from Melbourne, Australia, began photographing storms in 2013, when he and his brother, Rick, first storm-chased in the United States.

LAMAR, COLORADO, USA

LAMAR, COLORADO, USA

James, 31, admits capturing such storms can be an intense process – the swirling tornadoes not making it easy for the photographer to set up his equipment.

Many times, James reverts to shooting handheld because of the strength of the storms.

ST FRANCIS, KANSAS, USA

ST FRANCIS, KANSAS, USA

His storm-chasing has seen him photograph across America – in states such as Colorado, Texas and South Dakota – as well as his native Australia.

James plans to return to the United States at the end of May to shoot more gems for his portfolio.

BLACKHAWK, SOUTH DAKOTA, USA

BLACKHAWK, SOUTH DAKOTA, USA

Last year he won the $10,000USD Grand Prize at the National Geographic 2015 Photo Contest for a powerful swirling tornado that he photographed ripping through Simla, Colorado, USA.

He said: “We chase to capture these amazing forces of nature, but we know the impact severe weather has on the people living in these areas and do not wish any harm to them during these events.

SIMLA, COLORADO, USA

SIMLA, COLORADO, USA

“The unpredictability is what fascinates me the most.

“It’s so fascinating heading out on a chase and seeing the total diversity of storms that are produced.

SIMLA, COLORADO, USA

SIMLA, COLORADO, USA

“The structure, size, and amount of hail it all just makes it such a fun and unforgettable experience.

“When you see your first tornado it is surreal to say the least.”