James Valentine

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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 through the arts and sciences.  He coordinates his photography with leading nature, cultural and governmental institutions throughout America. He has published fifteen large-format photography books featuring some of the best natural history fine art photographic coverage of the southeastern U.S. He is co-authoring a book featuring the works of Dr. John Kunkel Small, Curry Hutchinson and R. Pat Elliott. He is in production of a fine art wilderness ecosystem based photography book depicting new scientific discoveries in the Guiana Shield, South America.


Through his pioneering photographic ecosystem research, exploration and scientifically based documentation Valentine is considered one of the most notable photographers in America. He has journeyed deep into old growth forests, isolated marshlands and pristine seashores with his exquisite eye with various format camera systems to develop fine art, photography books and collections of images that celebrate both the unusual beauty of wild ecosystems as well as the urgent need to preserve them.


He founded and is president of the Quest Foundation (www.questfoundation.org) now celebrating its 48th year. Quest Foundation is working to preserve eco-systems utilizing the 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 ecosystems and noted cultural sites utilizing fine art large, medium and small format photography.




In 2015, Valentine coordinated with Pineapple Press to finalize a series of Florida bio-diversity ecosystem books: Florida’s Magnificent Land, Water and Coast. The books are co-authored and text written by Biologist - D. Bruce Means, PhD. The series of books showcases several decades of exacting large, medium and small format landscape photography illustrating the best of what Florida has preserved and those ecosystems that need protection for future generations. The books are published by Pineapple Press, Sarasota, Florida.


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 eco-systems.  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 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 ecosystem 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.  


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 ecosystems of the South and covers ten southern states. Sponsoring Institutions: The Nature Conservancy and private donations.



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


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. Six months of research was vital to research Florida’s major ecosystems and rare plant communities to produce scientifically based photographs. Sponsoring Institutions: Florida Department of Natural Resources and private donations.


In 1980, Valentine coordinated with The Appalachian Regional Commission and the University of North Carolina to locate support for the founding and establishment of the first environmental art center of its kind in the country. The center was based on Valentine’s ecosystem exploration and photographic knowledge of the wilds of the southeast, which resulted in the proposal. This established Valentine's scientific photographic laboratory as the official Appalachian Environmental Art Center, located in Western North Carolina. Many years of dedicated hard work and personal financial sacrifice went into building the highly technical scientific photographic laboratory, which he donated to the Highlands Biological Station. The Appalachian Environmental Art Center laboratory opened the door for fine art photographic research, education and preservation of the Southern Appalachians. His beautiful home was renovated as a dormitory, the “Valentine House”. Sponsoring Institutions: State of North Carolina - University of North Carolina / Appalachian Regional Commission. Today the laboratory facility is one of the leading scientific biodiversity centers in the country.


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 ecosystems 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 1975 the Governor of Georgia, the Honorable George Busbee, commissioned Valentine to explore and photographically document Georgia's state parks and wilderness ecosystem 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.


Valentine was commissioned to produce four albums exploring the Georgia wilderness landscape called The Presidential Photographic Portfolios. They are accessible at 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.  Sponsoring Institutions:  C & S Bank / Private Donations. 


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 in 1969 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.



The exhibition: Guale: The Golden Coast of Georgia was developed and shown at the Atlanta Memorial Arts Center, Atlanta, Georgia in collaboration with the High Museum of Art.  At the time it was considered the largest environmental art, scientific and natural sound exhibition of its kind in the country. The scientific ecosystem 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. These projects celebrated the establishment of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 for 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.




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

National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy & the National Geographic Society


Science & Environmental Education Based Fine Art Landscape Photography:  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) and Florida’s Coast – Land – Water  (Pineapple Press)


FILMS:  1. Videographer - Corridors of Life:  North West Florida Water Management District ecosystems

  1. Producer / Videographer – Walking in Two Worlds – Filmed in The Tongass National Forest


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


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


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


LECTURES presented, seminars conducted 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



  • Governor’s Environmental Education Award

o   Florida Magnificent Wilderness – Presented at Epcot Center – Orlando, FL

  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Water Management Districts of Florida 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
    • Signed By Governor and Cabinet Designating: Wilderness Appreciation Month


Member: The Explorers Club – National Fellow

             CESU – Gulf Coast Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, CESU – Network – Gulf Coast Information Portal

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