J.J. Kelley

National Geographic Photographer

Kelley is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and explorer focusing on issues of conservation and wildlife crime. Three of Kelley documentaries have been featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine, including the Emmy-nominated “Warlords of Ivory,” and he is a producer and correspondent for National Geographic Channel’s flagship documentary series, “EXPLORER.” From being a director on the Bering Sea’s “Deadliest Catch” to leading the exclusive coverage of the tomb of Christ being opened for the first time in 800 years, Kelley’s countless expeditions and work for National Geographic all began when he decided—at age 19—to load his pickup truck up with camping gear and drive from the lower 48 up to Seward, Alaska.

An avid adventurer, J.J. is an Appalachian Trail Thru-hiker and has biked the length of Alaska to the Arctic Ocean, paddled from Alaska to Seattle in a homemade kayak, and journeyed the full length of India’s Ganges River. A fellow at the Explorers Club, Kelley’s travels have instilled a sense of protecting the planet, and he brings a unique mix of humor and grit to subjects he investigates. J.J. is the winner of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival’s Best Conservation Film for “Battle for the Elephants,” a NGTV-PBS special on the slaughter of African elephants for their tusks. He received the Conservation Achievement for Media and Film Award from TUSK and Best Short Film winner at the Blue Ocean Film Festival for GYRE, a National Geographic documentary he directed on the mounting tragedy of ocean trash killing wildlife on Alaska’s remote coastlines. His film “26 Years and Counting” exposed that the long-lasting effects of the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill that now leaves a population of orca whales facing localized extinction. Kelley’s work has also appeared on NOVA, Discovery Channels, New York Times, Outside, PBS and more.

Upcoming Expeditions

  • Jun 14, 2020
  • Sep 06, 2020

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