“ I am over a mile away from Angel Falls trying to photograph with my 4×5 view camera in a 30 M.P.H wind while experiencing the incredible thundering roar of the falls.” James Valentine met Jimmie Angel in the early fifties and spent a lifetime wanting to photograph Angel Falls, the World’s Highest Waterfall.

James Valentine

James Valentine is a visionary naturalist, photographer, artist, poet, speaker and filmmaker whose works have helped preserve millions of acres in the heart of wild lands. He coordinates his photography with leading nature and cultural organizations throughout the Americas. He has published fifteen large-format photography publications featuring some of the best natural history fine art photographic coverage of the southeastern U.S. He is in mid-production on his sixteenth publication of fine art wilderness photography depicting new scientific discoveries in the Guiana Shield, South America.

Through his photographic explorations, Valentine is considered one of the most notable photographers in the South. He has journeyed deep into old growth forests, isolated marshlands and pristine seashores with his exquisite eye and large format cameras to develop fine art photography books and collections of images that celebrate both the unusual beauty of the southern lands as well as the urgent need to preserve them.

He founded and is president of the Quest Foundation, now celebrating its 50th Anniversary. For over five (5) decades James Valentine has working hard to preserve and celebrate wild lands using arts and sciences. His fine art ecosystem photography has been showcased in museums, cultural centers and in major health care facilities. He has spent a lifetime building an exemplary collection representing environmental fine art large, medium and small format photography.

Presidential Library Commission

Valentine was commissioned to produce four albums exploring the Georgia wilderness landscape called The Presidential Photographic Portfolios. They are housed in the archives of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia. These portfolios explore the cultural and ecological importance of wilderness Georgia from the mountains to the coast.

The exhibition: Guale: The Golden Coast of Georgia was developed and shown at the Atlanta Memorial Arts Center, Atlanta, Georgia. At the time it was considered the largest environmental art, scientific and natural sound exhibition of its kind in the country. The scientific based photographic research, book and exhibition brought attention to the establishment and importance of the Cumberland Island National Seashore Park and the preservation of many of Georgia’s coastal river systems, estuaries and barrier islands.

The Guale, the Golden Coast of Georgia book and exhibition helped strengthen the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 for the protection of the entire continental U.S. Sponsoring Institutions: State of Georgia / Office of the Governor / Jekyll Island State Park Authority / Georgia Power / Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

In 1988, Guale – The Sacred Landscape was Valentine’s second book that explored and captured the cultural and natural beauty of Georgia’s coast with poetry based text and a Forward by Eugenia Price, Peachtree Publishers: Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1979, Valentine’s book: North Carolina, Volumes I & II, was published by the Graphic Arts Center: Portland, Oregon. Text by Marguerite Schumann. These books are a photographic and scientific exploration of North Carolina’s wilderness starting in the highest mountains in Western North Carolina and ending on the Outer Banks along the coast. Some major cultural landmarks are represented in this publication. Sponsoring Institutions: University of North Carolina / Corporate and Private Sponsors.

In 1991, Southern Light, Valentine’s book on the South was produced by Oxmoor House: Birmingham, Alabama, with nationally known poet, James Dickey. This acclaimed book documents twenty years of Valentine’s exploration into the ecological wilds of the South and covers ten southern states. Sponsoring Institutions: The Nature Conservancy and Private Donations.

In 2011, Valentine coordinated with the University of North Carolina Press to release Southern Appalachian Celebration – In Praise of Ancient Mountains: Old-Growth Forests and Wilderness. Valentine created a stunning collection of the Southern Appalachian large format photographs that present an enduring portrait of the region’s unique natural history. The text is by Appalachian nature writer Chris Bolgiano with an introduction by the late, longtime conservationist Robert Zahner. The book is published by The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

In 2015, Valentine coordinated with Pineapple Press to finalize a series of three books: Florida’s Magnificent Land, Water and Coast. The books are co-authored and text written by D. Bruce Means, PhD. The series of books showcases several decades of exacting large, medium and small format landscape photography and poetry illustrating the best of what Florida has preserved and those places that need protection for future generations. The books are a Pineapple Press Imprint with Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group.

Member: The Explorers Club – National Fellow

On an expedition to South America, “ I am standing at the base of Salta Kukenan Falls which is quoted as the “second tallest free-leeping waterfall in the world” which we measured to check that claim.”

In 1974 Valentine’s Book: Guale: The Golden Coast of Georgia, was Published by Friends of the Earth – Seabury Press, San Francisco, CA. In 1969, Valentine began a three-year exploration following the journey of 18th century naturalist William Bartram to photographically document coastal Georgia.

Photographer John Earl made major contributions of his time and fine art landscape photography to the book and exhibition. The book includes selections from the authors Rachel Carson, William Bartram, John McPhee, John and Mildred Teal, Marjorie Rawlings, John Muir, and others. The book includes an introduction by Eugene Odum and John P. Milton with a foreword by David R. Brower.

In 1975 the Governor of Georgia, the Honorable George Busbee, commissioned Valentine to explore and photographically document Georgia’s state parks and wilderness areas. He worked closely with his co-author, the late Charles Wharton, a noted biologist, to produce scientifically based photographs representing Georgia’s eco-systems. Their findings were published in an elegant conservation book on the wilderness and cultural beauty of Georgia titled: Georgia, published by the Graphic Art Center: Portland, Oregon. Sponsoring Institutions: State of Georgia / Governor’s Office / Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

James Valentine’s home was established as the University of North Carolina – Highlands Biological Station, “Valentine House Dormitory”

University of North Carolina
Appalachian Environmental Arts Center

In 1988, the journeys of natural historians, early explorers and naturalists who first set foot into the wilds of Florida are captured in Valentine’s book: Florida – Images of the Landscape, Westcliffe Publishers: Englewood, Colorado. Sponsoring Institutions: Florida Department of Natural Resources and Private Donations.

In 2006, Valentine worked with Pineapple Press in Sarasota, Florida to publish his second book on Florida titled: Florida Magnificent Wilderness – State Lands, Parks and Natural Areas. This book photographically documents the best of the two million-plus wilderness acres saved through the programs: Conservation and Recreational Lands, Save Our Coast, Preservation 2000 and Florida Forever.

Valentine coordinated his work with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; Division or Recreation and Parks, Office of Submerged Lands and Environmental Resources and local, regional and national conservation – educational institutions. Valentine’s poetry adds beauty to each of the images. D. Bruce Means, PhD founder and president of Coastal Plains Institute authored the main text and captions.

Publications, Exhibitions, Films

Science & Environmental Education Based Fine Art Landscape Photography Books

  • Florida – Images of the Landscape (Westcliffe)
  • Georgia (Graphic Arts Center)
  • Guale – The Golden Coast of Georgia (Friends of the Earth)
  • Guale – The Sacred Landscape (Peachtree Publishers) North Carolina I & II (Graphic Arts Center)
  • Southern Light (Oxmoor House)
  • Florida Magnificent Wilderness (Pineapple Press)
  • Southern Appalachian Celebration: In Praise of Ancient Mountains – Old Growth Forests and Wilderness (University of North Carolina Press)
  • Florida’s Coast – Land – Water (Pineapple Press)

Book Publishers: Graphic Arts Center, Longstreet Press, Oxmoor House, Peachtree Publishers, Westcliffe Publishers, Pineapple Press and the University of North Carolina Press. Contributions to the National Audubon Society, Reader’s Digest & the National Geographic Society

Books in Production: Islands In The Sky – Lost Worlds of El Dorado.

Documentary Films

  • Corridors of Life – North West Florida Water Management District
  • Walking In Two Worlds – Tongass National Forest – Southeast Alaska.


  • Guale – The Golden Coast of Georgia
  • North Carolina – A Sacred Land
  • Florida’s Wild Places
  • The Wild and Sacred Florida Magnificent Wilderness
  • Master Works Ancient Forest Collection

Films In Production: Alaska’s Tongass Rainforest and Islands in the Sky – Lost Worlds of El Dorado.

  • Lectures and Seminars: Related to exploration: (Partial Listing)
  • Southern Appalachian Celebration: Zahner Conservation Lecture Series
  • Florida Magnificent Wilderness: Florida Educational Technology Conference Feature
  • Arts and Ecology In The Americas: The Nature Conservancy
  • Arts and Conservation In The Americas: 8th World Wilderness Congress Feature Event

Recognitions and Awards

  • Governor’s Environmental Education Award: Florida Magnificent Wilderness – Presented at Epcot Center – Orlando, FL
  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection Award: In appreciation of is commitment to preserving the natural beauty of Florida through photography and his outstanding support for Florida’s Preservation 2000 Program
  • Establishment: The State of Florida – Quest Foundation Resolution: Governor and Cabinet – Wilderness Appreciation Month