Jim Richardson is an American photojournalist working primarily for the National Geographic Society and as a social documentary photographer recognized for his explorations of small-town life.
Richardson's first story for National Geographic magazine appeared in 1984. Since then, he has become one of the magazine's most productive contemporary contributing photographers, with more than 20 stories.
Richardson also is a contributing editor of National Geographic Traveler magazine, where he has contributed both writing and photographs. He also is a popular speaker and workshop leader in the U.S. and abroad.
His combined areas of expertise include volcanoes, agriculture, rivers and aquifers, and the United Kingdom, especially the people, culture, and landscape of Scotland, his Scotland, his family's native Cornwall, and the wider Celtic world.
In May 2004, National Geographic published Richardson's color story on the Great Plains alongside a retrospective of his 30 years of social documentary photography of Cuba, Kansas. Richardson's ongoing photography of Cuba, population 230, has been profiled twice by CBS's Sunday Morning, first in 1983 and again in 2004.
Richardson's book, High School USA, a three-year photographic examination of adolescence in a small-town Kansas high school, is considered a photo documentary classic.
Richardson's audiovisual presentation about rural life, "Reflections From a Wide Spot in the Road," won the Crystal AMI Award and toured internationally.
In 2001, ABC News Nightline followed Richardson in the field and during editing and layout at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., for a story called "Yellow Journalism: The Making of a National Geographic Story."
Richardson first began using a camera as a youngster on his parents' wheat and dairy farm north of Belleville in north-central Kansas. He began experimenting with his father's second-hand box camera, photographing the world of the farmstead for display at the Republic County Fair.
In 1971, he abandoned his psychology major at Kansas State University to begin a photo internship at the Topeka (Kansas) Capital-Journal. In the intervening 15 years, Richardson's work was published in many major publications, ranging from Life and Time to Sports Illustrated and the New York Times. In 1986, he left a job at The Denver Post to begin a full-time freelance career.
Richardson and his wife, Kathy, returned to Kansas in 1997, having lived 18 years in Denver. They now live in Lindsborg, Kansas, where they operate Small World: A Gallery of Arts and Ideas on the town's Main Street.