Each week we will introduce you to our (LYD) Live Your Dream Stars. These awesome women are living their dream. Through their stories, we hope to inspire you to live your dreams.
Robin Lorenson is a storm chaser currently living in Kansas City, Missouri. She has documented thousands of storms across the nation through her video and photography.
1. How did you get started with chasing storms?
I fell in love with photography when I was 12-years-old after a family tragedy. My love for weather and a Kodak point-and-shoot camera became my coping mechanism. I remember I use to sit out on the porch under the deck and listen to the rain, hail and wind. During that time, I would take photos of sunsets and anything in nature. It was my way to connect with who I had lost. It was a way to connect with something bigger than myself.
Once I graduated high school I debated on a photography degree or a meteorology degree. Math is my worst subject and my love for photography was much more powerful. So I went to Santa Barbara, California and pursued a Degree in Professional Photography, knowing that I wanted to document severe weather and I wanted to do it right. My concentration was Industrial Science. During my time at school, I had a marketing professor who pushed me to cold call a handful of storm chasers. These storm chasers helped me learn about the industry. And one of the cold calls eventually led to an internship that took me back to Kansas.
Throughout my internship, I was able to meet a handful of meteorologists and learn about forecasting along with how to chase, what to look for when in the field, how to market my photographs and many other essential skills.
2. What has been the proudest/most rewarding moment of your career so far?
The most rewarding moment for me was in 2009, the year after my internship when I sold a photograph to a family that had lost their house in a tornado in June of 2008. They framed the photo and hung it in view so that they could remember that day and how far they had come.
3. How did you reach this point in your career?
Persistence, patience, short-term goals and a few hours of sleep a night. Without setting small goals, it is hard to achieve the bigger picture. Over the past six and a half years I have had multiple lists of what I wanted to achieve each year. I started out small with the first couple years focusing only on photographing certain elements in nature like rainbows, shelf clouds, and mesocyclones. As the years progressed, I started adding hail and tornadoes to the list.
As a storm chaser you want to meet and document every storm. But that is not always possible. To begin I started documenting storms within Missouri and Kansas. But once I started incorporating video into my documentations, I was a little more aggressive and expanded my radius to include a few surrounding states. Once I was comfortable with this, I started live streaming my chases and broadcasting them for the National Weather Service Offices and to the national networks through Live News Video Network.
4. How have you been able to fund your dream? Has it been difficult?
Funding this has been very difficult. Since there is no guarantee that a photo or video will sell or be licensed, there is always that chance of ending the day, week, month or year spending your money without earning a paycheck. Because of this, I have a part-time job to fall back on. This job is easy and flexible. And often times they work with my schedule, or Mother Nature’s schedule, so I can continue to document severe weather.
Every dream costs money. And mine has as well. I had expenses from school and storm chasing that were adding up. So I moved to Kansas City, Missouri for a while so I could save some money for my business. My first year in Kansas City was a very hard year. I couldn’t afford to chase. And it was hard to stop doing the one thing that makes me who I am. I almost lost myself that year. But I worked two jobs and saved money. And the following year I was able to get back out on the road. To get back on my feet, I concentrated on a very small radius around Kansas City.
Now, my business is taking off again.
Following dreams isn’t always easy. And it can be expensive. But it is worth it.
5. What was the best piece of advice you received when you were starting your career?
I don’t really have a cheery positive answer to this question. To be brutally honest, the best piece of advice or the best thing that has ever been said to me is, “You’re not good enough” or “You will never make it.” Those things were hard to hear. But I believed I could be better and one day great. So, I turned around within six months and proved them wrong. I worked harder, slept less, and pretty much have pushed myself to be one of, if not the only solo female storm chaser who has video of breaking severe weather broadcasted nationally. I always try to get my video out within the first few hours of the storm.
So I guess for me, it is my reaction to my critics that made me work even harder. You can let feedback hinder or help you. It is up to you. I would rather use it to help.
6. What advice do you have for young girls preparing to live their dreams?
Keep at it. Do not let anyone try to change your mind. Stay determined, patient and work hard.
I like the quote below too. So many artists believe their work is great because of their innate talent. But truly, many people achieve their dreams because they do the work.
“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.” – Emile Zola
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