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Clyde Butcher

Photographer

1942 - Present
Inducted in 1998

Biography

Clyde Butcher is often called "the Ansel Adams of Florida."  Since the early 1980s when he moved to Florida from California, Butcher has built a career as one of the most highly regarded black-and-white landscape photographers in the world.  Today his work in the wild areas of Florida represents one of the best environmental arguments for preserving what remains of the state's rich natural heritage.

Butcher was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1942, but eventually grew up in Southern California.  He studied architecture in the early 1960s at the California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo, while nurturing a hobby in photography.  During his senior year, on a trip to Yosemite National Park, he first saw the work of America's most famous black-and-white landscape photographer, the late Ansel Adams.

After losing his job at an architectural firm, Butcher found success in selling his photographs at local arts festivals.  He soon went into black-and-white landscape photography with a passion, focusing on wilderness areas west of the Rockies and throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Success eventually found him as a partner in a large business that sold images to large department store chains for wall décor.  But happiness eluded him and his wife, Niki, whom he had married in 1964.  The couple eventually moved into a sailboat in the harbor of Newport Beach, California, where they lived for seven years with their two children.

In 1979, Butcher sold his business in California and moved to Florida, where he returned to selling his photography at street art festivals.  After their son was killed by a drunken driver in 1986, the Butchers sought solace by immersing themselves in nature.  In 1992, Butcher bought a 13-acre former orchid farm (known as Orchid Isles) situated in the middle of the Big Cypress National Preserve in Southwest Florida, and established a new home.

Butcher already had discovered the serene beauty of South Florida's wild areas, particularly the Everglades.  He became adept at navigating swamps carrying his large, tripod-mounted view cameras, capable of capturing images in exquisite detail.  His photographs, printed on formats as large as 5 by 7 feet, soon became critically noticed for their striking composition, detail and texture.

Today, Butcher's reputation as a chronicler of what remains of Florida's natural landscape is internationally recognized.  Over the years, he has been the subject of two television documentaries and three books featuring his work or his life.  His work has taken him to Cuba, where in 2006 he published Cuba: The Natural Beauty, a study of the country's mountain ranges.

Butcher and his wife Niki still call Big Cypress home, and operate a gallery on the edge of their property in the preserve. 

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