Born in the UK, David Mayhew was raised in rural Suffolk in the east of England, close to where Constable created his paintings and where pictorial naturalist photography first came to be under the skillful hand of Emerson. After his private school education David went on to obtain a Bachelor of Engineering in Product Design at Loughborough University.
As is common with the adventurous and curious young minds of the UK, David donned a backpack and headed around the world, stopping in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii and hitchhiking across Canada. What was initially to be a year became 19 months and a number of odd jobs were required to sustain his onward travel.
On his return to the UK, David fell victim to the itchy feet syndrome and took a job that allowed him continued travel. Various jobs within the automotive industry whisked him off to Turin in Italy, Chicago in the US and back home again, spending 18 months at each. It was during this period that David developed a love of photography and made use of his income to indulge in the medium.
In 2003 David decided to abandon the 9 to 5 environment and delve head first into photography, taking on studies in digital and film photography at the College of DuPage, located just outside Chicago. He has also made use of the Weather Lab at the College, inspiring him to take up storm chasing, a perfect opportunity for a very diverse set of images. David was also extremely encouraged in the early stages of his photographic career when he received various scholarships and awards.
In the future his aim is to make use of the new digital medium and to continue to travel to capture remarkable images of landscapes, skyscapes and the abstract geometry that nature presents.
Most landscape photographers do not pay adequate attention to the beauty of the sky, despite the sky generally occupying a large portion of each photo. The normal approach is to find a location of natural beauty to photograph. My approach is very different. I seek the sky I want to photograph and then seek a subject that may enhance the scene or I simply fill the frame with sky and cloud formations.
In my photographs I make the sky and weather the primary subject for my work. I seek good composition, strong color and an unusual appearance, often an abstract element of the sky. Often dramatic cloud formations fill the sky, belittling any object on the ground as well as creating the feeling of immense space.
The severe weather of the Midwest plains provides the best opportunities for me in Spring each year and it takes me anywhere from Texas to Canada. Dedication and persistence are certainly a requirement for my work, often traveling up to 1000 miles in a day and at times without seeing a photogenic storm. However, when the elements come together the result is undeniably spectacular.
The sky is a global subject that we all get to appreciate and marvel at its splendor on a daily basis, as long as remember to look up once in a while. The sky changes continuously and is never the same twice. It was there before we were born and will remain long after we are gone. It is something that connects us all.
The shapes, patterns and wide variety of colors the sky produces is a continuously evolving palette of beauty. No wonder we perceive the sky as being inspiring and a place of freedom. We perceive the sky as being the heavens above. We envy the bird that floats in its currents. We lose ourselves in the majesty and vastness of the stars at night. Even Atlantis, the kingdom of the ancient Greek Gods, was built on top of the clouds!
The sky expresses an array of emotions, just as we do. From the power and energy of a severe storm, to the serenity and lightness of a calm day. From the purity of a sunrise, to the drama of a lightning storm, "Skyscapes" is designed to create an emotional response from each viewer and can be interpreted and internalized in a multitude of ways.
How better to open up your home than by opening a window to the vastness of the sky? How better to change the atmosphere of a room than to allow a new atmosphere in? The skies the limit!
Storm Chasing for me is about seeing nature at its most beautiful. Each storm is unique, providing new and diverse photo opportunities. The goal of a chase for me is therefore to be witness to spectacular skies and not necessarily to see a tornado, otherwise I would frequently be disappointed. Generally a tornado is short lived and provides few chances of taking great images. Quite frequently a tornado can be rain wrapped or be shrouded in darkness, so it is not that often that you will see a photogenic funnel.
Forecasting is a prerequisite for storm chasing. It is not just a matter of heading out and hoping for the best, an understanding of the environment is required. This helps in selecting a target area and knowing when to leave one storm for another, or when to simply stay at home! Technology has greatly helped when out in the field ? mobile broadband, software and GPS locates me relative to the storms and helping keep me safe. Do not attempt storm chasing unless you know what you are doing or are with someone experienced, high tech equipment alone is not enough to be a chaser.
Believe it or not, but being struck by a tornado while chasing is low on the list of concerns while on the road. Other threats are more prominent including other drivers, debree on the road including downed powerlines, hydroplaning on wet roads, lightning and large hail. The concerns with other drivers are many. There are ?yahoo? chasers who drive with no respect for others and will often park by the roadside without sufficiently pulling off the road. They risk their lives to see a tornado and in doing so, also put others at risk. There are those who will slow down driving in heavy rains, and rightly so but may delay progress. In many situations vehicles will pull over on the hard shoulder when visibility is low and can pose as a hazard if not passed with care. I remember chasing a storm in Texas on a 2 lane highway in rain and suddenly coming to a blocked underpass ? cars had parked underneath the bridge to avoid hail damage, parking from the hard shoulder across to the other side!! With low visibility it would be easy to imagine a truck plowing through them at 70mph! Also note that underpasses are one of the worst places to shelter from tornadoes since winds can be accelerated under them. If caught out find a low lying ditch away from your vehicle, the theory being that the majority of debree should pass over you.Not every chase is a success. A capped environment (warm air aloft) can inhibit storm initiation, even in juicy and unstable conditions resulting in nothing but blue sky. Many miles and a number of busts are the norm. The thrill ride seen on so many dramatized storm shows is misleading, obviously they are going to cut out all of the boring parts! And then there is the devastation the storms can leave behind when hitting homes. Seeing such situations can be very emotional, especially where life is lost. The majority of the time emergency services are quick to respond, if not waiting on location as storms pass in front of them. Although some people on the plains see the arrival of storm chasers as a negative, or a bad omen per say, my perception is the opposite. It is not storm chasers that bring storms with them, what we do is report any potential danger so that warnings are put out, sirens turned on and hopeful lives are saved as a result.
2009 Lakeview East Art Fair, Chicago IL - 2nd Place
for 2D art work
2009 Gold Coast River North, Chicago IL - Best of Photography
2009 Buffalo Grove, IL - Merit Award
2009 East Millenium Art Festival, Chicago IL - Best of Photography
2009 Fort Worth Main Street TX - Juror's Award
2008 Lakeview East Art Fair, Chicago IL - 2nd Place for 2D art work
2008 Honorable Mention for entry into the Chicago Art Open Exhibition
2008 Gold Coast River North, Chicago IL - Merit Award
2008 Buffalo Grove, IL - Merit Award
2008 Deerfield Art Fair, IL - Award of Excellence
2008 Bloomingdale Museum "Oh, Shoot!" photography juried show "1st Place" winner
2006 Art on Armitage "Best in Show" winner
2006 "Coolest of Cool Interns" for my internship at the College of DuPage as voted by the public based on my portfolio
2005 "Best Shot" scholarship from the College of DuPage for my self portrait tittled "Skinned"
2005 Gregory Lon Wilson Memorial Scholarship, the annual College of DuPage student scholarship
2004 "My Park Photos" Fall scholarship winner for "Swamp at Sundown
Sep 24th, 2009 CBS used my image "Wilmington Tornado #1"
to promote the "Capture my Chicago" photo book, the image was the most viewed
photo that day
Sep 23th, 2009 CBS used my image "Sky Net" to promote the "Capture my Chicago" photo book
Jul 27th, 2009 ABC Morning News living interview about my storm chase work and the Goldcoast Art Fair
Jul 2009 Article on Geneva Art Fair in the eGeneva Magazine included a mention of me and use of one of my images
Apr 2009 TV news interviews in Fort Worth on both channels 11 and 21 to promote the Main Street art fair
Feb 2009 use of images in Houston Luxury Living to promote the Bayou City Art Fesitval
Aug 5th, 2008 WGN TV news used images of the intense lightning storm in Chicago on Aug 4th
May 13th, 2008 WGN TV news segment focusing on my storm chasing and Notebaert Museum exhibition
May 4th, 2008 FOX Chicago TV segment on Surviving Severe Weather ended with coverage of my Notebaert Museum exhibition.
Apr 11th, 2008 full page article published by the Courier College of DuPage student newspaper
Apr 8th, 2008 Live TV interview with ABC morning news regarding Notebaert Museum Exhibition
The Prairie Light Review magazine Fall Edition 2007
Aug 2007 WGN used photos of Chicago Lightning from the Aud 23rd storms in Tom Skillings weather segment
The Prairie Light Review magazine Spring Edition 2007
Jan 2007 "It Could Happen Tomorrow: What If a Tornado Hit Chicago?", photos used by The Weather Channel show
Aug 2006 lightning photos used by WGN and The Weather Channel
The Prairie Light Review magazine Spring Edition 2006
The Prairie Light Review magazine Fall Edition 2005, publication of "Refuge" & "Under the Covers"
June 2005 interview and publication for the Courier newspaper, College of DuPage, IL
May 2005 - Sep 2007 Resident photographer at Penny's Noodles in Lakeview
The Prairie Light Review magazine Spring Edition 2005, publication of "Escape to Another World" & "Symmetrical Living"
Mar 2005 interview by WGN on stormchasing with the College of DuPage for Tom Skilling's weather segment and Fermilab
David is available for commission work. If you have a scene, building or an individual you wish to be photographed please feel free to contact him. Any personal recommendations for locations and scenes to photograph are always welcome, especially if you or a friend has a unique view from home. David is also open to new challenges, so if you have a unique project or idea please share your thoughts.
Currently David supplements his income from photographing art work (Art Reproduction), Portraits and Architectural commissions. Examples can be found in the "Various" gallery.