Jochim uses his camera to capture people’s stories
Keith Jochim is more than just a photographer. He’s a former Trinity Repertory Company actor, a world traveler, a Warwick resident and a storyteller.
Jochim will share some of these stories through a photo exhibition at the Warwick Public Library from June 11 through July 31. The exhibition showcases two sets of photographs, “Men of a Certain Age” and “Rhode Island Portraiture.”
“I think my favorite part [of photography] is meeting people and learning the surprises of their lives,” Jochim said, adding that in addition to simply taking photographs he also interviews his subjects. “I don’t get tired of looking at [the photographs] because I know their stories.”
The first part of Jochim’s exhibition features 16 photographs of older men from around the world, taken during Jochim’s time traveling as a professional actor.
“I’m an older man myself,” said Jochim, who has been a professional actor for over 40 years, though he recently made his way into professional photography just two years. “I had always been taking pictures, though.”
Specifically, Jochim said he photographed older men who “lived a full and hard life,” everyone from a Vietnam veteran to a Christmas tree salesman to a man with a plastic Burger King crown on his head.
“The first thing that draws you in is their face,” he said. “You can’t help but notice it, and you can tell just by looking at it that they’ve lived such incredibly long, full lives.”
One such subject was a street person in Portland, Ore. who Jochim described as a “man of few words.”
“I was just so haunted by what he must have gone through, just looking into his eyes,” Jochim said.
In the second part of the exhibition, Jochim captured the lives of people from around the state and all walks of life, including a woman with tattoos of the Virgin Mary and a cross covering her entire back; a deck hand cleaning machinery on a boat in Point Judith; and two workers at his neighbor’s house posing like “chainsaw gladiators,” as Jochim described.
The 30-photograph series captures Jochim’s travels throughout the state, encountering people at random whose stories he wanted to share.
“What I’m always searching for is impact,” he said. “Those scenes or people that make you go ‘wow,’ that you don’t forget.”
Jochim said he usually does not include names with his photographs, or if he does only first names, preferring to allow anonymity to his subjects.
Jochim said that he can never anticipate how people will react to his work, since everyone interprets photography in such different ways.
“Whenever someone says ‘wow,’ that really tickles me,” he said.
Although Jochim’s upcoming exhibition features black and white photographs with human subjects in “one-on-one confrontation with the camera,” he also works with abstracts and color photography.
“Everything is constantly amazing me,” he said. “Till I die, I’ll never be bored.”
Jochim was born in Kansas, where he also studied theater as an undergraduate at the University of Kansas. He then went on to get higher-level degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley.
In addition to more artistic and exhibition-centered photography, he also has been hired to take photographs at weddings, for résumés and other events. He has lived in various parts of Rhode Island “on and off” for 18 years.
This exhibition will be his third, but the “first one of this scope.” Limited prints will be available for sale during the exhibition. The exhibition begins with an opening reception on June 11 from 6 to 9 p.m. He asked that those interested in attending to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.