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Chariton native is turning sunsets into a smile

Austin's photos have been featured during Local 5's weather forecasts for years.

CHARITON, Iowa — From morning's first light to evening's last rays, Iowa sunrises and sunsets just hit a little differently.

For one Chariton native, capturing the perfect picture of a sunrise or sunset is simply part of a regular routine. 

Austin Hamilton is one of Local 5's most avid fans, as he sends photos from his hometown to the station in hopes they'll get shared on TV or social media. 

"If it's sunset and Austin's nowhere in the house, you know Austin's taking a picture of the sunset," said his cousin, Taylor Pennington. 

By day, Austin works as a mail carrier in Chariton, walking nearly 15 miles each day to deliver mail around the community. After work, he's usually at his family's shop along U.S. Highway 34, a place he's grown up in. 

“I love being here, I raised my livestock here, helped my dad with the towing. Yeah. It’s just my home," he said.

It's outside the shop, or at nearby Stephens State Forest, where he takes the majority of his photos.

His passion for photography inspired him to share his snapshots with the world. 

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In the past, he's sent photos to meteorologists all over the United States, including weather forecasters in Alaska.

Austin says it's his way of bringing a love for small-town Iowa to people who don't get to experience it the way he does. 

His cousin said, "that's just his escape, I think. In today's world that's scary, I mean, he can go out on that bridge and watch the trains with the sunset.. and he'll come home and be happy with not a care in the world."

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