Meet the photographer behind viral storm photo

Posted at 8:17 PM, Jul 02, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-02 20:17:39-04

HENRICO, Va. (WTVR)--Geoff Sills said he never imagined a picture he took in his Hanover County neighborhood Saturday night would receive such publicity.

“It’s actually my most viewed photo on Flickr,” Sills said.

The picture, of an ominous cloud forming in Mechanicsville, has been shared multiple times on Facebook, Flickr and

“It looks scary, looks like something out of a movie,” exclaimed Sills. “Some people said it can’t be real.”

Sills said he captured the image, using a Nikon D-700, around 8:04 Saturday evening, while he was on his way to dinner with a friend.

The college student, who’s majoring in special effects at the Savannah School of Art and Design, said at the time he didn’t realize he was capturing the formation of an actual tornado using his wide angle lens.

However, shortly after the picture was taken, residents in Studley reported a tornado on the ground, toppling trees and downing power lines.

The National Weather Service later confirmed a tornado, with a 7.4 mile path, had touched down in Hanover.

Sills said he contemplated chasing the storm, but said his stomach got the better of him, so he went to dinner instead.

The young photographer said he’s still reeling from the response he’s receiving online.

“I would really like to think there was a tornado on the ground that I captured,”  Sills said.