Lori Grace Bailey is a professional photographer and storm chaser.
This is her story and these are her incredible photos.
From ages 7 to about 10, my mother would often take me to the park down the street from our house in El Paso, Texas She’d let me play on the hot metal slides and swings (what were they thinking back then?). Before we left, though, we would always just lay back on the grass and she would ask me what kinds of figures I could see in the clouds. “Mickey Mouse!” I remember screaming. She would tell me that she could see dragons, rabbits, and long wiener dogs in the billowing cumulus clouds during the El Paso monsoon. She had divorced my father when I was 6 and was working as a nurse’s assistant during the graveyard shift, but she still took the time to look up at the clouds with me when she could. Looking back, I know the times she spent just being with me helped shape me into who I am today. My passion and love for weather continued as I got older. By high school I wanted to be one of those “tornado chasers” you’d see on TV and looked into pursuing a degree in meteorology. But by the time I started college at the University of Texas at El Paso, I also had a desire to help people so I moved towards getting a degree in Psychology. After college, I married my high school love and we started a family. Having always been an adrenaline junkie, I jumped career paths again and chased an opportunity to work in law enforcement. Though I found myself with a rewarding career and happy home, there was one thing missing from that equation: authenticity.
In almost every area of my life, I was quite extroverted, boisterous, and opinionated. But buried deep inside, since as early as I can remember, I suffered in silence because my mind and heart were telling me that I was different than what my body showed me in front of a mirror. After lots of heart to heart talks with my loving and supportive wife, dozens of hours of counseling, hormone replacement therapy and medical procedures , I transitioned from male to female. Depression lifted, I could see the world through clear lenses, and my passion for life was renewed.
My story and life are vastly more complex than what I’ve shared, but transition revealed to me that living authentically brought me back to my love for capturing the weather. As a wedding and portrait photographer, I’ve discovered that what my clients want most from a great photographer is to capture their spirit of authenticity and reveal true smiles or laughter. I’ve also discovered another gem: I now have a renewed passion for chasing storms that I did when I was young. When I’m watching one of the most dazzling sunset storms in the middle of the Arizona desert on a chase, I still think of my mom and wonder what she would see in the clouds before me. I still can’t help but see Mickey Mouse ears every once in a while. If there’s a storm to chase in southern Arizona, you’ll eventually see me on a dirt road or trail looking for the right vantage point to find and capture something extraordinary!
You can learn more about Lori and her photography here.