J. P. Bell and his wife live in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  J.P.'s 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 several years working along the Rocky Mountain Front in the northwestern part of the state. 

In 1958, 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 since 1987. His inventory includes images from the Ozark Mountains, western United States, Africa, the Middle East, South America and Europe. Most recently his archive contains material from the southeastern United States' coastal area, Texas and Florida.

J.P.'s special interests include transportation, landscapes and whitewater sports. His photography has been included in fine art collections of individual collectors, banks, hospitals, and corporate offices throughout the United States.

Bell's photography and written 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 first book, published by Voyageur Press in 2006, is "Steam Trains, A Modern View of Yesterday’s Railroads." This 192-page hardcover book of 23 photo-essays paints a broad picture of steam railroading across the U.S. and Canada over the past 30 years. J.P.'s most recent book is "Ghost Trains, Images from America's Railroad Heritage."  This book is also done in hardcover and tells 23 different railroad related stories from the past. It was published in April 2014 by Chartwell Books.  Both books are out of print, but can be purchased from from online booksellers.