As a professional photographer, he took pictures of newborn babies, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, weddings, graduations, anniversaries and a host of other significant moments people would want to preserve on film.
But in the back of his head, he always had an inkling to use the camera to capture images he found pleasurable.
"I always had an eye for more artistic photography," Chiappone said during a recent interview. "But who had time?"
Even when he gave up his business in 2003, Chiappone did not find more time to take the kind of photographs he had in mind.
"I made a commitment that when the people elected me to the state Assembly, I would dedicate myself to that job full-time," he said.
So he put away his camera and buckled down to his job as a legislator.
Although he would have liked to continue representing Bayonne and Jersey City in the Assembly, the Democrats selected another candidate in the June primary. His term of office as Assemblyman comes to an end this December.
As his duties as an assemblyman began winding down, he started yearning for photography again - not the posed pictures and traditional things he did as a professional, but those mood setting pieces he always saw and never took.
On Nov. 12 at noon, Chiappone will unveil his collection of photographs at a gala at the 30th Street Bayonne Public Library. The works will be on display at the library for a week.
Council, not mayor While Chiappone intends to run for re-election as a councilman at large in Bayonne this coming May, his newly rediscovered passion for photography has caused him to review his priorities and decide against running for mayor.
"I gave this lots of thought," Chiappone said. "It's time for me to relax. I've been campaigning for office every year for the last four years. And in each case I've been up against it, always in a battle mode. That's not a pleasant experience."
Chiappone asked himself if he really wanted to take on the job of mayor at this time.
"I'm one of those people who has to throw himself into a job," he said. "If I was to do it, I would go all the way."
This meant that he would have little or no time to pursue his art.
Part of his thinking process involved his running mate in 2003, state Senator and Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham, who died of a heart attack in May 2004.
"His death made me realize how fleeting life is, and that if you don't do what you want to do now, you may never get the chance," he said.
A similar life-threatening experience had inspired Chiappone to go into politics in the first place. A decade ago, he went into an 11-day coma resulting from a chest infection.
His return to the world, he said, made him want to contribute something to the community, and pursue politics.
But with life so short, he realized that he had missed out on other aspects he considered just as important, and this is the reason he put off his dream of becoming mayor until a later time.
"I'm a relatively young man," he said. "Photography is what I want to do for now. I've decided to stop and smell the flowers."
Art runs in the family. His father painted; Chiappone's daughter is a professional visual artist.
"It's a side of me that I've always wanted to explore," he said.
Wandering around the region
In recent days, Chiappone has found more time to wander around New York City and New Jersey snapping pictures.
"I'm always on the lookout for the beauty of things with the hopes that I might capture something someone else has not seen," he said. "I have an eye for composition, but sometimes you have to wait for the right shot. That could take hours."
Some of the images are of nature, some are attempts to capture the changing industrial nature of Bayonne, while still others play with images he saw when he grew up near the Brooklyn Bridge.
"The Brooklyn Bridge always fascinated me," he said. "And it is surprising how much life passes over it every day."
The show will present 50 pieces, in sizes up to 13 by 19 inches.
Chiappone is also including a set of photos dedicated to Ground Zero at the World Trade Center.
"I've taken more than 4,000 shots," he said.