Jim was born and raised in New Orleans. As a teenager, he apprenticed with a commercial photographer and learned color and black-and-white darkroom technique. His camera has been his companion through the intervening years documenting explorations as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado, as a drop-out working for the US Forest Service on the Front Range of the Rockies. Jim continued his studies at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor Maine, earning a bachelor’s degree in human ecology in 1985. Since 1987, he has resided in the Durham area.
In 1990 Jim joined the Potluck Community Farm, an intentional community in southern Person County, where he pursues sustainable forestry.