The thrill of the chase: Photographing monsoon weather

Monsoon officially begins on June 15th
Lauren Bailey / @lorigraceaz
Posted at 8:55 AM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 07:37:35-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The beauty of monsoon reveals itself all across southern Arizona in the during the summer months.

For some in the region, it's not about letting the storm come to you, but chasing it instead.

"Once you catch the first storm and its as spectacular as you hear about, or you've seen in pictures you're hooked," Lauren Bailey, a storm chaser who calls southern Arizona home. "There's just no going back."

Bailey is one of the many talented photographers that aims to capture the rain, clouds, and lightning bolts that often come with the storms. Each shoot normally comes with a lot of planning and thousands of photos.

"But I have one mission and it's just to come home with one. One extraordinary shot. It doesn't necessarily have to go viral, but it has to be the summation of all of the effort put into a hard day of chasing," Bailey said.

Lauren Bailey / @lorigraceaz
Monsoon photos from Lauren Bailey.

Bailey will often shoot with other storm chasers in the area.

"I came down from Washington state and I didn't really know there was storm chasing here," Donna Ruthruff said. "One day I saw some pictures online and I was like what? They do that here? And I knew right then and there I had to be a part of it."

Ruthruff has been chasing for years now. One of the most infamous bolts she captured was the shot of the lightning bolt that started the Bighorn Fire.

"The bolts were so big, and the rain was coming down and it was such an amazing sight to see," Ruthruff said. "Then you saw that bolt and at the time I didn't know which bolt it was but going back you know I did catch the bolt that started it."

Those events show the power and danger the storms can present. The chasers will often go out together to keep an eye out for each other. It also let's them share in the beauty together.

"Every time you go out you're just hoping this is the storm that will last until sunset, and you'll get the rainbows and the sunset and the bolts and when that happens it just feels like you are living in this amazing dream," Ruthruff said. "It's the most amazing thing to witness. Mother nature coming alive and putting on this little show for you."

While monsoon officially begins on June 15th, the chasers are ready for whenever the storms start.

"If you're in Tucson, everyone loves a sunset storm," Bailey said. "You really do become one with the desert when you experience the monsoon and I just absolutely love sharing that with people through my photography and videography."

To follow along with their photography and videography you can follow Lauren Bailey on Twitter here and Donna Ruthruff here.

Greg Bradbury is a reporter for KGUN 9. Greg is a graduate of Syracuse University where he studied Broadcast Journalism and Spanish. Greg joined KGUN 9 in February 2021 as a Multimedia Journalist after working at the ABC National Desk as a Digital News Associate. Share your story ideas and important issues with Greg by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.