Clyde Butcher

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Clyde Butcher
Clyde Butcher
Occupation Black-and-white photographer
Website Gallery Homepage

Clyde Butcher (born 1941) is an American photographer known for wilderness photography of the Florida landscape. He began his career doing color photography before switching to large scale black-and-white landscape photography after the death of his son. Butcher is a strong advocate of conservation efforts and uses his work to promote awareness of the beauty of natural places.


Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Clyde Butcher led a nomadic childhood with his parents, until they settled in Southern California when he was 18. He attended California Polytechnic University in 1960 with a major in architecture. While visiting Yosemite National Park in 1963, he learned about the photography studies of Ansel Adams.

During his senior year of college, Butcher married his college sweetheart Niki.

Beginnings of photography career[edit]

During college, Butcher presented his architecture projects by creating and photographing miniature-scale models instead of making drawings.[1]

After graduation, Butcher began a career in architecture. He was responsible for a portion of the design of the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, California.[citation needed] Upon losing his job, Butcher began showing his photography at local art festivals. He soon realized that he could make more money in photography than he was making in architecture. By 1970, he left architecture for landscape photography.

Commercial success[edit]

Eventually, Butcher had a partnership that marketed and sold his images to the wall décor departments of Sears, Montgomery Ward, and J. C. Penney. He eventually accrued around 200 employees and offices in Akron, Ohio and Southern California. In order to increase sales, Butcher added color photography. The bulk of his photography during this time took place west of the Rocky Mountains and in the Pacific Northwest.

To escape some of the stress of the business, he moved onto a sailboat with his wife where he lived for seven years, moored in the harbor of Newport Beach, California. The boat had electricity and refrigeration, but conditions were spartan. Living without a television on the boat gained the family a sense of peace and solitude while they could take advantage of the city.

Move to Florida[edit]

Butcher's love for boating and the television program Flipper inspired him to explore Florida. Butcher sold his business in California, moved to Florida, and returned to selling art in street festivals.

In 1986, the Butchers' son was killed in a car collision with a drunk driver. Butcher retreated to the wilderness for solace and restoration. He put aside color photography and became a black-and-white landscape photographer using large-format cameras. He prints images ranging from 8x10 inches to 5x9 feet.

In 1993, Butcher started leading a Labor Day, guided tour of Big Cypress National Preserve, which has grown to an annual event attracting several hundred customers.[2]

Conservation work[edit]

Butcher's deep appreciation for the Everglades inspired him to work for the restoration and preservation of environment. He has received recognition for his community service as well as his photography. In 1992, PBS aired a documentary about him, Visions of Florida, which won a Wolfson Award.

Butcher and his work has also inspired other artist-conservationists, such as film producer Elam Stoltzfus, who was struck by Clyde's art. The pair have formed a friendship over the years and have collaborated on several multimedia projects together as a result. Butcher hosted the documentaries "Big Cypress Swamp: The Western Everglades"[3] and "Kissimmee Basin: The Northern Everglades,"[4] sister films that highlighted the importance of conservation and art in the state of Florida.

Legacy and awards[edit]


Community service[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Recent major exhibits[edit]

  • January 28 - April 15, 2007 - St. Paul, MN, America The Beautiful: The Monumental Landscape of Clyde Butcher. Traveling to the Muscarelle Museum of Art, Williamsburg, Virginia
  • January 9 - February 12, 2009 Apalachicola River: An American Treasure, Photographic exhibit and documentary film with cinematographer Elam Stoltzfus, St Paul Public Library [5]
  • April 2004 Living Waters: Aquatic Preserves of Florida, Photographic exhibit and documentary film with cinematographer Elam Stoltzfus
  • 2000-2001 Visions for the Next Millennium, Traveling photographic installation. May 10 - October 16, 2011, The G2 Gallery.


External links[edit]