Rep. Jason Chaffetz doesn’t like being away from Washington, D.C.
He loves it.
The aversion to #ThisTown, one might be surprised to learn, has nothing to do with the hyperpartisanship plaguing the current Congress or the mania surrounding the upcoming midterm elections.
The guy simply prefers basking in the glory of nature. And he strives to preserve those fleeting memories by capturing all he can through the lens of his digital camera.
“Mostly I like photographing wildlife. It’s a little more adventurous,” the Utah Republican told HOH about his penchant for sneaking shots of stunning creatures in their natural habitats.
The avid outdoorsman compared photo stalking with hunting — “I like hunting, but you can’t always get a permit or a tag. You can always have permission to go out and try to photograph an elk,” Chaffetz suggested — sans the bloodshed, of course.
“I treat it just as if I had a gun, but I have a camera,” Chaffetz said, stressing that he gets “all camoed up” in order to disappear into the environment.
So far this year, his Canon Rebel has helped him track wild horses out in the West Desert of Utah (“They are tough to get close to because they get spooked and start running,” he counseled) and interact, from a safe distance, with the some of the more formidable inhabitants of Grand Teton National Park.
“Not only do you have to get close to the animal, you have to get on the right side of the animal,” he said of the myriad factors involved — adequate lighting, proper angle, keeping the subject’s eyes perfectly in focus — in orchestrating a killer snapshot.
His appreciation for the art form is very much a family tradition.
“My mom had a business called Hot Shot Photography,” Chaffetz said of the family wedding/special events-related work he helped with as a child. The bathroom in their home was converted into a darkroom, and Chaffetz handled the unexposed film.
“I can still smell the chemicals,” he said of the old-school developing process. “It was really fun.”
Chaffetz now shares that same passion with his 13-year-old daughter, Kate, an up-and-coming shutterbug in her own right.
He tends to keep the hobby, which appears to serve as a release from the daily grind, very much too himself. He rarely shares his personal photos via social media. And he insists that work is never allowed to intrude into his headspace while he’s shooting.
“When I’m out there trying to get a great shot of a moose, the last thing on my mind is [Rep.] Kerry Bentivolio. And that’s a good thing,” Chaffetz said.
“I do my wildlife photography to get away from Congress, not spend more time with it,” Chaffetz said.
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