Take a look at Clyde Butcher’s evocative photographs of the South Florida wilderness
America’s vast expanses of wild provide the inspiration for photographer Clyde Butcher’s work. South Florida’s Everglades in particular – a mysterious 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve – has played a recurring role in his distinctive black-and-white photographs of natural landscapes.
Miami’s Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, a space that’s dedicated to the preservation of rare tropical plants, is paying tribute to the great American photographer with an exhibit of his work, scheduled to run until April 30. Titled “Preserving Eden,” the show includes 32 photographs that speak volumes about Butcher’s powerful bond with the environment.
Almost otherworldly, his photographs depict mangroves, magically still waters and endless swamplands, in such areas as Big Cypress Natural Preserve, Fakahatchee Strand and, of course, the Everglades.
“I feel my images create an emotion that reaches out to people and helps them see their natural surroundings in a different way that encourages them to save those wild places where peace can fill the soul,” says Butcher of his photographs.
To achieve the dramatic sweep that characterizes his work, Butcher often stands in muddy waters for long stretches of time, until the light and the surroundings elements are just perfect for his lens. He uses large format cameras and techniques to capture Florida’s natural details and then develops his photographs in a darkroom – a seemingly old-fashioned technique that results in haunting artwork.
Now in his mid-70s, Butcher has enjoyed an impressive photographic career that’s spanned many decades. “I’ve been pursuing the concept of wilderness preservation through photography since 1961,” Butcher says, reflecting on his many years of work. “I think it’s important for an artist to have a passion – you need to find a source of inspiration. You have to follow a path and develop a sense of character in what you’re doing.”
For more info, visit www.fairchildgarden.org/clyde-butcher