James P. Bell lives and works in his birthplace of Fort Smith, Arkansas. His early years were spent on a farm along Clear Creek in the Ozark mountains of northwestern Arkansas. He has called northern Montana his "adopted" second home since 1975 when he and his wife spent two years working on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
In 1957, as a child, J.P. and his family traveled by train from Arkansas to northern California on Santa Fe's San Francisco Chief. From that time forward, railroads and the American landscape through which these trains passed captured his imagination. His love of wilderness grew as he hiked in the intermountain West and canoed rivers of the Ozarks.
Bell has photographed professionally since 1987. His photographic inventory includes images from the Ozark Mountains, western United States, Africa, the Middle East, South America and Europe. Most recently his inventory contains images from the Southeast U.S. Coast.
J.P.'s special interests include transportation, landscapes and whitewater sports. Bell's black and white prints and color photographs are sold through Art Form Gallery in Van Buren, Arkansas and the Cantrell Gallery in Little Rock, Arkansas. His photography has been included in fine art collections of banks, hospitals, and corporate offices throughout the United States. One of Bell's major clients is Bank of the Ozarks with headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas. His black and white photographs may be seen in the bank's branches throughout Arkansas and Texas, and in selected facilities in Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas.
Bell's photography and articles have appeared in Locomotive and Railway Preservation, Railfan and Railroad, the Arkansas Gazette, Arkansas Times, Washington Post, National Geographic maps, and River magazine. .
J. P. Bell’s recent book, published by Voyageur Press, is Steam Trains, A Modern View of Yesterday’s Railroads. This 192-page book of 23 photo-essays gives the viewer a broad cansvas of steam railroading across the U.S. and Canada over the past 30 years. This book is available in bookstores across the country and from online stores.