Who I am...
To get things started, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Alex Resel, I am a professional photographer, storm chaser, and aurora hunter based out of Watertown, South Dakota. I earned my business degree, graduating from Lake Area Technical College in the Spring of 2021 with a focus in photography/multimedia business studies!
I didn't always have an interest in weather until a mean thunderstorm hit my hometown back in June 2012. Ever since, I have been hooked on the atmosphere and how it behaves! From tornadoes to auroras, our atmosphere produces some of the most incredible sights one can see! It is my journey to document these sights as often as possible from both the ugly and the beautiful sides of weather. What also motivates me is the adrenaline rush of living on the edge while feeling incredibly small. It is an otherworldly feeling that I've come to admire the more I chase the weather.
My goal is to show others the uniqueness of our atmosphere and what it provides while also giving others a sense of scale on just how big and powerful our atmosphere really is. I also want to use my passion as a way to teach others to pursue their goals and their passions no matter who they are or what their story is. We all have unique traits that we can utilize to our advantage to pursue a certain goal(s) in our lives!
Where my interest in photography started...
Photography is all about what the photographer sees. The "Photographer's Eye" as one might say. Growing up, I practiced this skill by visualizing life in a way most people probably wouldn't. I visualized objects or people from a different perspective. I'm not talking about putting myself in their shoes, more so picturing them in a different environment or situation with my own twist to it. It wasn't until high school when I picked up my first digital camera. An Olympus E-500. This gave me the opportunity to put my visual perspective to the test. I started photographing basically everything! Landscapes, night, macro, people, and more. It wasn't until my interest in weather started that I really honed in on what and where I wanted my interest in photography to move toward.
After several years of teaching myself the ins and outs of a camera and photography as a whole, I enrolled at Lake Area Technical College in order to grow my interest in photography. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made! Not only did my time at college teach me so many new ideas about business, I also learned other ways to pursue photography in a way I wouldn't have before. In the Spring of 2021, I graduated with my business degree and embarked on my photography journey!
Where my interest in weather started...
I became interested in weather around the time I was 12 when a mean thunderstorm hit my hometown back in June 2012. I still remember it as if it occurred yesterday! While I never got chance to look outside to watch it, hearing the pounding of tennis ball sized hailstones, the loud claps of thunder, and the wailing of tornado sirens sparked a strong interest in wanting to learn more about the weather. I later discovered a funnel cloud was also observed over my hometown from that storm! Thankfully, it never touched down.
From that day forward, I looked at weather forecasts, both local and national, drew maps of South Dakota with my own little weather forecast, temperatures, hand drawn storms, and more! While I didn't have a digital camera up to this point, I would try to observe every nearby thunderstorm that I could. I watched the news waiting for weather updates and also tuned into bigger severe weather coverages on The Weather Channel, such as the Moore, Oklahoma and El Reno, Oklahoma tornado events in 2013.
After a bit of a lull in weather interest in 2014, my interest picked back up in 2015 when I went on my first storm chase. On July 17, 2015, My dad drove my sister and I 30 minutes north of my hometown where we saw three (3) supercell thunderstorms off to our north and west. These storms eventually merged into one powerful line as they impacted my hometown. This resulted in a major flashback to the first time I was hooked on weather in June 2012. These storms solidified my interest in weather for good. It was a day I will never forget. I will have future blog posts on some of the more memorable storm chases I've had since!
When an interest became a passion...
I started college in 2019 and by this point I was pretty much regularly capturing new photos of whatever I found interesting, especially the weather and the outdoors. However I still wasn't set on what I was doing with my photography other than simply capturing photos. I didn't know the meaning behind my work. But thanks to the support of my entire family, I was able to find that meaning! My grandma especially.
Like any grandma would, my grandma always taught me life lessons growing up, especially when it came to pursuing goals in my life. She loved seeing my photography and looked forward to seeing me grow, both as a person and a photographer. Unfortunately, in November 2019, we lost her suddenly to pancreatic cancer. Before she passed, I told her I wanted to dedicate my work in honor of her because of the lessons she taught me. Every photo has a reminder of her that fuels me to keep pursuing my passion. It pushes me to capture the best photos I can. The image below was one of her favorites.
Going into the year 2020 was difficult. Of course, this year was also filled with crazy events and changes. But it didn't stop me from continuing photography. In May 2020, I began my storm chasing career. Throughout that summer I honed in on my photography skills while also beginning to take the storm chasing knowledge I had and practicing it. It was one of my best summers. I witnessed numerous beautiful storms across the Northern Plains, including my first tornado, in the Badlands of South Dakota of all places! Throughout that summer, I continued to improve my skills in photography and storm chasing. This led me into the next year, 2021, with a goal of chasing storms all over the United States for the first time. And I did just that.
Finding my way...
2021. The best year of my life. After I graduated college, I embarked on an independent journey to chase storms across the United States. Independency. It's something we all take for granted once in a while. I was able to find myself through the month long journey I embarked on across the Great Plains while witnessing some of the most incredible storms I've ever seen. I continued to learn more at the same time. From Texas to Yellowstone National Park to Kentucky each trip had its own unique aspect to it.
In June 2021, that journey continued when I met my best friends, who are also fellow storm chasers. It changed my life for the better when I didn't think it was possible. It shifted my perspective on storm chasing, realizing how important it is to have such supportive friends to share the same experiences with. And that hasn't changed since!
All in all, the 2021 storm season was a year of finding my way and a confirmation of what I wanted to do with my life. To chase storms and document my life journey through photography and videography. It was a year I will remember for the rest of my life.
Where my passion for aurora started...
While 2021 was a life-changing year in finding my way through storm chasing, it was also a year of discovering a new passion. Hunting down the aurora borealis. Living in South Dakota, we see the northern lights pretty often, however it was something I never realized at the time. That was until October 2021, when I decided to drive into North Dakota for what looked like a good opportunity of seeing auroras. Long story short, I did! This was my first time witnessing the northern lights. It was far better than anything I could've imagined! Extremely bright, vivid auroral pillars danced across the northern horizon, at one point nearly reaching overhead. Instantly I was hooked! This event was a G2-geomagnetic storm.
For context, the geomagnetic G-scale is one measure of how strong a geomagnetic storm is. The scale ranges from G1 to G5, with G1 being minor and G5 being the most extreme.
It didn't end there as a month later, a G3-geomagnetic storm sparked otherworldly auroras across the world in early November 2021. I was along the North Dakota-Manitoba border for the event. This was my first time witnessing overhead auroras. I couldn't help but cry as pink, green, purple, and red auroras danced vividly across the entire sky above me. This event shined a light (no pun intended) on discovering my newly found passion of hunting down the aurora borealis. I will have future blog posts on some of the other geomagnetic storms I've witnessed since!
The meaning behind these stories...
The purpose of having this blog is to build a connection with YOU! Something I strongly believe in is building a professional bond where I can share new ideas and perspectives with people like you. I will also utilize this as a way of sharing more about my experiences and furthering my career in photography and videography. It will also provide some more context on the idea behind my work that you won't see anywhere else!
I plan on writing at least one blog post a month. During the busy storm season months, there may be an exception. You can expect some other random smaller posts here and there. I will also have future blog posts on some of the more memorable storm chases and geomagnetic events I have experienced and the stories behind them!
Thank you for taking your time to read this blog post and learning more about me and my work! Stay tuned as I look forward to continuing to share more about my journey with you on this website!