Fierce Beauty: Storms of the Great Plains

The new book from Eric Meola

Eric Meola’s photographs of Bruce Springsteen need no introduction to clients of the gallery.

Fierce Beauty: Storms of the Great Plains is the title of Eric’s beautiful new book. First edition hardcovers are available to purchase.

Eric Meola became interested in storms during a 1977 road trip across Nevada with Bruce Springsteen. An image from that 1977 session was chosen for the cover of Bruce’s album The Promise. While driving in the desert they encountered a violent storm, and Springsteen wrote a song about the experience called ‘The Promised Land,’ saying later of those photographs: “Eric caught some great pictures but what he really captured was something in the sky and in the lay of the land that deeply revealed the grandeur and character of the country.” Eric was also transfixed by the display of nature’s fury, commenting: “I always wanted to go back to that day when we drove up on a hilltop and watched as lightning revealed the valley floor.”

Eric began to photograph the tornadic storms of the Great Plains–the area in America’s heartland west of the 98th Meridian and east of the Rockies. Driving through the area known as Tornado Alley, he photographed a forbidding landscape where atmospheric instability collided with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and spectacular cumulonimbus clouds formed at twilight. Over a period of years, he documented a landscape of elemental forces, where immense storms percolated miles above the ground, rotating with energy until tornadoes spun on the horizon. He discovered a country of haunting beauty where the wail of coyotes and the glow of constellations filled the prairie’s void with simple graces. “This book extends that narrative and reaches something profound,” says Bruce Springsteen of these photographs.

The book has some really nice design features. Underneath the dust-jacket, the cover has a beautiful colour image of a lightning strike on the front, and an equally striking portrait of storm clouds on the back—so in effect you get two covers. It is an impressive physical size (which the subject deserves) , measuring approx 11 x 15 inches, with 216 pages. The layouts are clean and elegant – image on the right, caption on the left. We love it. Most of the photographs are in colour. One of the exceptions is from the 1977 shoot with Bruce, with Bruce driving towards Eric in a red open-top Galaxie 500. Trust me. It’s red.

Photographs of the book