Saturday, September 20, 2008

Weird Businesses - Lightning Photography

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When a cool breeze breaks the desert heat and the faint scent of mesquite wafts through Tucson, photographers Jeff Smith and Tom Willett hit the road to chase lightning. The duo drive their pickup beneath dark thunderheads, shooting hundreds of photos during the summer monsoons that rumble over Arizona's Sonoran Desert and reach their climax in September.

"Super-close bolts of lightning will give you a reality check," says Willett. "When the antenna on your car starts to sizzle, that's when you know it's time to get out of there as fast as you can."

Smith, 44, and Willett, 49, operate independent photography businesses in Tucson, but they merged their interest in weather imagery to form a stock-photography company called Lightningsmiths. They pool resources for their Web site and marketing campaigns, and they offer an extensive portfolio of images to clients that include Omega watches, Timberland, the Weather Channel, and the Swiss and British postal services, which have used Lightningsmiths images on stamps and posters.

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