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writer. photographer. explorer.

”I create powerful visual stories in order to positively impact the lives of people around the world.” — Jim O’Donnell

My writing chronicles change – from people on the move to ecosystems in flux. My writing is a guidebook to understanding dying forests, repairing broken waters, setting foot on rising islands, understanding collapse, climate migration, adapting to tourism, and holding on to what you have – or thought you had. From journalism to literary non-fiction to full-on creative fiction, transformation is the thread that binds all my writing.

I am also a visual storyteller utilizing conservation photography to explore the relationship between people and their environment. A native of the Colorado / New Mexico mountain borderland, my work takes me to wild, agricultural and urban landscapes around the world.

My photography evokes a powerful emotional connection with landscapes, wildlife, and people.

After ten years as an archaeologist and several more as the head of a non-profit public lands conservation organization, I came to conservation photography seeking a more effective way to positively impact both the natural world and the human stories evolving within these landscapes.

I work in close collaboration with clients ranging from print and online publications, NGOs, governmental entities, and online advocacy organizations. I have extensive experience working with local communities in a respectful, immersive style.

Currently, I am nearly finished with my first novel, a work of speculative fiction focused on American climate change refugees. The novel, “Who Broke the World” will be available in 2024.  I am also working on a non-fiction travel/nature book titled “Fountain: Travels in Anthropocene Waters” due out in February 2025 from Torrey House Press.

I am based in Taos, New Mexico, USA.



Jim O'Donnell Gets Bookish

October 2022 – Taos News

Yes. I’ve signed a publishing contract with Torrey House Press, a conservation-focused publisher out of Utah ( The contract is for my non-fiction book “The Fountain: Travels in Anthropocene Waters” due out in February 2025. Essentially, the book will be about the Fountain Creek watershed of southern Colorado. The Fountain is one of the least-known but most interesting waterways in the American West…..  Read the whole interview >>

People of Substance - Shifting the Addiction Paradigm

August 2022 – Taos News

Taos conservation photographer and author Jim O’Donnell is vehement about destigmatizing drug and alcohol addiction one story and one photograph at a time.

He embraces the challenge as anthropologist, artist and community activist and is the leader of People of Substance, a movement and a campaign resource for those who want to play a role shifting the addictions paradigm. His approach includes understanding that the journey begins with an alarming prevalence in unhealed childhood trauma, and “cracking down” on the addict — instead of bolstering them to heal — is one of the greatest fails of society.

Tempo reached out to O’Donnell with a few questions — here are the features.  Read the rest… >>

Around the World in 80 Years with Jim O'Donnell

AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY YEARS with Jim O’Donnell, a conservation photographer, and environmental journalist. If you devoted 80 years to going round-the-world, how much of the world could you see? How far would you go? Is it possible you could see the whole world in your backyard? What will happen to our earth in the next 80 years? What will happen to us? Jim O’Donnell has devoted his entire professional career to exploring these questions and more. In this interview, Jim reminds us that the earth will survive. He points out that the real problem is how we will survive as human beings? “It’s our choice,” he says. “Will we rise into our positive potential, or will we descend into fearful antagonism?” What do you think? I recorded this conversation with Jim on a warm June day while we were sitting under a gazebo at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, NM.  Listen >>

Career Transition on the Road with Jim O’Donnell

July 2013 – A World to Travel

Currently making the move from a career in Archaeology, 42 year old Jim O’Donnell is pursuing his dream of becoming a travel writer. In this On the Road interview from New Mexico, he shows us that career transitions are possible and worth it!

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started to travel. Do you remember your 1st travel experience? Why are you (if that’s so…) passionate about traveling?  Listen >>

The Coalition That Could by Rebecca Clarren

2006 – Orion Magazine

“GAS DRILLING DESTROYS. Nothing grows on those damn drill pads except crushed gravel and weeds,” says Oscar Simpson, president of the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. Simpson, fifty-eight, wears a thick mustache, a battered wide-brimmed hat, and a crusty disposition. He furrows his brow as he sits astride his white horse. “We can’t let them do that.”  Listen >>

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