PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Sen. Angus King has never taken a photography class, but his eye for detail is winning Instagram followers and praise from professional photographers.
His photos offer a personal look at the senator’s dual existence in busy Washington and rural Maine.
“The whole idea is to convey the world as I see it,” he said.
There’s a stunning sunset from the Capitol during a government shutdown, fighter jets on an aircraft carrier, fish being gutted at a processing plant, his view from President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Those are juxtaposed against his other world, the rocky coast and woods back home in Maine.
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Yarmouth-based Islandport Press is publishing some of his best photos in a book this summer, said Publisher Dean Lunt. Proceeds will benefit the Good Shepherd Food Bank.
King told The Associated Press it took him several months to convince his staff it’d be OK for him to curate his own Instagram account. He has more than 15,000 followers.
Critics say his photos are pretty good.
King has good ideas and composition that’s assisted by “unbelievable access” to people, places, and events, all of which are the hallmarks of great photography, said Benjamin Williamson, editor of photography at Maine’s Downeast magazine.
“He thinks about things. That comes across in his images. He’s trying to tell a story. That’s what great photographers do,” he said.
King captured behind-the-scenes moments on Capitol Hill, like a bipartisan meeting on the so-called Dreamers legislation, and a state dinner in honor of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
He shares a few words to explain his daily life, whether it’s munching a ham sandwich while racing to a vote, scraping his windshield on a winter weekend in Maine or expressing surprised disbelief that Afghanistan’s president complained to him about the mosquitoes at Maine’s Moosehead Lake.
Politicians with cameras aren’t a new thing.
There have been other notable amateur photographers, including Republican Barry Goldwater, who took hundreds of photos of Arizona landscapes and American Indians, said John Pitney, a political science professor from Claremont McKenna College in California.
A natural story-teller, King said the account brings together his passion for writing and photography and design. He said it’s also a good diversion from the Senate.
At times, the photos can be quite personal, like his recovery from prostate surgery, personal time with wife, kids and pets, and ski weekends at Sugarloaf.
“I write it like I’m describing it to a friend in Maine. I guess you can call it a personal note — that thousands of people can see,” he said.