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Nationally known photographer from Ventura County trying to chronicle democracy in America

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Joe Sohm
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Ventura County based photographer Joe Sohm has spent his life chronicling America, with some of his work featured in his multimedia project "Visions of America."

Joe Sohm has photographed everything from nature to presidents during his more than four decade long career.

You might not know his name, but you’ve seen his work. It’s been shown everywhere from Time and Newsweek to CNN, and Good Morning America. The Ojai man has photographed everything from America’s most scenic spots to its most famous political leaders. But, he also has a special project he's passionate about.

"I had a endless fascination with the founders of America. I always had this belief that the beginning of the United States was when we saw this shift, and stopped believing in kings, and queens, and started believing in the modern man," said history teacher turned photo historian Joe Sohm.

He's on a lifelong quest to illustrate democracy in America.

"What I've been doing for the last 40 years is a project...an ongoing project called Visions of America," said Sohm. "My hope is that I have created tens of thousands of dots. These collectively result in a portrait of democracy in America."

"Although I might be shooting in a small town, or a high school football game, it's really democracy in America," said Sohm.

He says his interests in history, music, and photography came together for the project. He's shot in all 50 states. While his heart is in the project, he's made money over the years shooting images for news, and advertising.

The photographer, and multimedia artist talks about what he hopes people get from his work.

"What I shot is evidence of democracy working in America," said Sohm.

The photographer says technology has helped his work evolve. When he started more than four decades ago, there was no such thing as a digital camera…it was rolls of film, and processing, so you never knew exactly what you were getting when you took a photograph.

Sohm’s latest works as part of his ongoing Visions of America project are true multimedia efforts, with photos, music, and much more. Actor and director Clint Eastwood even narrated one of his video projects.

Sohm’s career, and new works are going to be showcased at a Thursday night event on the South Coast. He’ll be interviewed by journalist Ivor Davis in a live, in-person event at the Museum of Ventura County. The 6:30 p.m. event will also be available via Zoom.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.