Throughout his award-winning career, photographer Clyde Butcher has cherished America’s national parks. “I am filled with gratitude that I live in a country that had the foresight to save so many wild places for future generations,” said Butcher. “They have given us the ability to step out of the rush of the modern world and to return to the quiet peace of nature.”
Butcher has compiled his favorite black-and-white photos into a beautiful new book, “Celebrating America’s National Parks, Preserves, Monuments, Recreation Areas.” Released to coincide with the National Park Service’s Centennial, this inspiring collection covers the 33 national parks and more than five decades of Butcher’s timeless photographs.
The extensive collection of work was primarily taken with his large-format film camera, which enables him the ability to present immense detail in his photographs. Viewers can intimately connect with each scene through mural sized traditional hand-printed silver-gelatin photographs; each photograph is individually processed in his 2,200+ square foot darkroom in his Venice, Florida gallery.
“I have always believed our national parks are the crowning beauties of our country,” he said. “As we celebrate the 100th year of the National Park Service, I wanted to highlight the national parks that I have photographed by creating this book.”
Butcher’s traveling exhibits of his dramatic wilderness photos have been displayed in museums across the United States and Europe. Aaron H. De Groft, director of the Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, has called Butcher, “the foremost landscape photographer in America,” adding, “He will be one of the greatest photographers in American history.”
Emmy-winning filmmaker Ken Burns has high praise for Butcher’s work. “Clyde Butcher’s remarkable photographs gives us an access to nature we rarely see or experience,” he said. “They not only reveal the intimate and majestic beauty of the environment, they also remind us of the abiding kinship we mortals share when we work together to preserve these magnificent places. Butcher’s art is a national treasure.”
Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1942, Butcher earned a degree in architecture from California Polytechnic State University, but found it difficult to present his designs through drawings. That led him into the field of photography, using the camera to photograph his architectural models for his design presentations. Unable to afford a store-bought camera, he made himself a crude, but dependable pinhole camera. That was the start of one of the most remarkable photographic careers in America’s history.
On a vacation in Yosemite National Park with his new wife, Niki, he saw an Ansel Adams photography exhibit. He soon followed in Adams’ footsteps, taking landscape photographs in black and white and exhibiting them at art festivals.
Since then, Butcher has followed the tradition of the 19th-century Hudson River School painters, composing his works at pristine locations across the United States.
Butcher is dedicating this exhibit and his new book to the courageous individuals who stood up to proclaim the need to save our wild places and to the forward-thinking ones who created the National Parks “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”
A perfect holiday gift, “Celebrating America’s National Parks, Preserves, Monuments, Recreation Areas,” can be ordered online for $47.50 at clydebutcher.com.
Meet Clyde Butcher at his Big Cypress Gallery, October 29 & 30, from 9a.m. to 5p.m., where he will be exhibiting for the first time all of his photographs of 33 National Parks he has photographed over the past 50 years.