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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 working on my first novel, a work of speculative fiction focused on American climate change refugees. I am also working on a non-fiction travel/nature book that retraces the route of Zebulon Pike.

I am based in Taos, New Mexico, USA.



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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