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Storm Photos of the Year announces its dramatic first-ever winners

Photography competition celebrates storm chasing
Overall 2021 Storm Photo of the Year. Shot in Chardonnay, Saône-et-Loire, France (Image credit: Alexis Maillard / SPOTY)

Lightning, camera, tornado? The 2021 winners have now been announced for newly-created photography contest, Storm Photos of the Year. 

Now in its second year, The Stormys, as it is affectionately known, has gathered some spectacular storm photography images across its three categories.

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The Storm Photos of the Year (opens in new tab) 2021 competition has unveiled this year's winners, and the results are striking enough to summon the mighty Thor. Winning the Photo of the Year category and first place in the competition was Alexis Mailliard, with his fantastically composed image (above) of a lightning strike shot in Chardonnay, France. He shot the image after bravely stepping a few meters away from his car to capture the shot before returning to safety. 

Second place winner for this category went to Brett Wright and third place was Enric Bachs.

First place prizes for the competition include $750 in cash, a Davis Instrument Vantage Vue Weather Bundle (opens in new tab) , a 20×30 print from ImageCraft of the winning image and a Lightning Trigger IV from Stepping Stone Products. Second place prizes receive $200 and third place $100. The Tornado Photo of the Year Award category was sponsored by Extreme Tornado Tours (opens in new tab).

Tornado Photo of the Year 2021, shot in Lockett, Texas (Image credit: Everett Occhipinti / SPOTY)
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An hour-long live awards show was streamed to the competition's YouTube channel (opens in new tab)where contest creator, Photographer and storm chaser Mike Olbinski, chatted with judges Dennis Oswald, Linda Van Rosmalen, and Nick Drieschman to share the fun that goes into running Storm Photo of the Year, and then announcing the top three Winners from each category. Also joining them on the stream were the category winners, via audio call. 

Winner of the Tornado Photo of the Year category was Everett Occhippinti with an impressive image (above) that resembles a still from a sci-fi movie. Shot without a tripod, Everett explains in the YouTube video stream that during a previous storm chase, his tripod was damaged, and he got lucky with the above image out of a series that were shaky and unfocused. 

Second place for this category was awarded to Isaac Polanski, with another mind-blowing image of a tornado that is super sharp and appears imminently close to the photographer and car in the frame. Third place winner was William Reid with a compellingly colourful tornado image (below) with bright orange hues. 

Tornado of the Year 3rd place winner - Captured in Lockett, Texas. (Image credit: William Reid / SPOTY)
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Amy Howard was congratulated as the winner of Photographer of the Year for the competition with her stunning image (below) of a perfectly-timed pink lightning strike occurring behind a tractor. Second place winner for this category was Brett Wright, with a different image, and third place was awarded to Timothy Baca.

(Image credit: Amy Howard / SPOTY)
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The competition creators are now offering paid personalised critiques (opens in new tab)of your stormy portfolios for a price of $50 (£38 / AU$66 approximately) with recorded feedback, regardless of whether or not you entered the competition. 

The Storm Photos of the Year photography contest will return in early 2023, to judge photos captured in 2022.

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.