" Not everyone chooses to wander with their faithful dog, rise hours before dawn, trudge through muddy creeks, and hike up mountains to capture nature in her unadulterated beauty. Thankfully, photographer James T. Williams does. Jim astounds us with his discerning eye and weathered soul. Sublime and resplendent photography leads you on a path to goodness.”
- Terry Parrilli / Wordsmith extraordinaire
1978. Glacier National Park. I first pointed a camera out the window of my truck and tried to take a photo. On that epic trip, my passion for photography began. I embraced the idea of finding images of our natural heritage. Images that were unencumbered by the hand of humans. Images that were wild and free.
Initially, I had much to learn. I immersed myself in the worlds of f-stops, exposure, climbing, paddling, survival gear, wilderness ecosystems, artistic design principles, and the like. An education rich in science, graduate work with focus on the fusion of science with art, and a 34 year teaching career helped me grow.
From the start, I desired images to be an artistic expression that used form, pattern, color, and other principles of design, woven with the nuances of natural light, to produce photographs capturing the essence of the subject.
But powerful photography requires even more. I was fascinated the spirit of creativity. I want my images to have messages and meanings. I want my experiences to have a voice that elevates emotion. I want my images to give me goosebumps and make my hands shake. I want some to make me smile and cheer. I want others to express my deepest heartache and appeal for compassion. If I am scattered or confused, let there be chaos. My photos are not about mountains and canyons and waterfalls, and forests. They are primarily about me. I just happen to work in those places.
I decided long ago to dedicate my work only to projects that were more encompassing in their scope than a single image could fully express. To this end, I present work in those thematic bodies, reflecting a lifetime of enduring vision quests. Those quests began in my birth state of Illinois, traveling the state from stem to stern discovering its hidden beauty. The portfolio, Seasons in the Heartland, represents a small sampling of that work. An e-book, Starved Rock: 52 Weeks in the Grandest Canyons in Illinois, also reflects my time in Illinois. Simultaneously, I began a career as a mountain man and adventured each summer out West. My first first book, High Altitude Paradise, is storied account of photographing all the 160 lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
Nearer to home, my love of paddling until exhaustion through the lakes in the Upper Midwest lead to another portfolio, Northwoods, yet to find a complete voice, nonetheless life-altering.
Always adventuring, my wife and I jumped around the country from coast to coast while discovering the value of nature and its importance. Subsequently we published Wisdom from the Wilderness / Life Lessons from Nature, a book dedicated to our students and our yearning for them to include outdoor experiences in their lives.
Presently, we reinvented ourselves and relocated to rural Alabama. Hellbent on finding the beauty that might be waiting in my new state, I set off on a few years of adventures to all the secret places of hopeful promise. Astounded, I published my third book, Searching for Sweet Home / The Goodness BeforeYour Eyes, a gift to the people of Alabama, yet at the same time, a resounding message of goodness and gratitude to everyone regardless of state.
These days, when not in Alabama, I am living the life of a Canyon Rat, working on a photo project at the Grand Canyon. Bet nobody’s taken pictures there before. And the foolish dreams continue.
At all times, I carry with me the love and inspiration from my wife, Pam, my daughter Meredith, and my mother, Mom. All the profits from my photography are channelled to our daughter's Meredith Williams Foundation which in turn support children and families in communities close to our hearts.
Teacher of Science Stuff, Photo Maker
Writer, Publisher, Outdoor Explorer
Seeker of Peace, Wanderer, Loyal Friend,
King of Nothing
“In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.”
- St. John of the Cross