Photographer Clyde Butcher, known for his black-and-white Florida landscapes, works with antique cameras to create dramatic, evocative portraits of the state’s natural beauty. Compelled to reveal the “real” Florida, particularly little-known and little-documented landscapes such as the the swamps and backwoods, Butcher does his part to educate his community about the environment they live in. In a TEDx Talk, Butcher shares his journey from being an architect to a self-taught professional photographer:
Inspired by Ansel Adams in the late 1960s, Butcher took up photography as a hobby, but fell in love with it and decided to abandon his career in architecture to pursue photography professionally.
“My first reaction [to Ansel Adams’ work] as an architect was, ‘Why would you photograph those trees unless they’re for sale?'”
Originally breaking into the industry with black-and-white photography, he noticed that Adams was having trouble selling his B&W prints, so Butcher decided to switch his focus to color photography, finding a measure of success in California photographing towering redwoods and other natural features around Yosemite.
Butcher and his family eventually moved to Florida, where he decided to return to his roots in B&W photography. Capturing Florida landscapes became his passion, and he began to focus on large-format photography to express the vastness and grandeur of nature, building a custom darkroom to accomodate the development of such large prints.
Butcher eventually got involved with conservationists and environmental groups, donating his time and talent to depict Florida’s natural beauty. He has also contributed photography for four PBS documentaries about Florida’s natural features, such as the Everglades and aquatic preserves.
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