We had the good fortune of connecting with Clyde Butcher and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Clyde, what do you attribute your success to?
That is a hard question to answer. I would suppose taking risks is the important factor behind my success, because I learned so much from all of those risks. But also, it’s being able to see doors open. Many people have doors open for them, but they don’t see them, and if they do, they often won’t take the risk. It is often a matter of fateful timing. All I can say, is that my wife and I have worked hard, because taking risks requires that, but others have done that too and not been as fortunate as we are in becoming successful. Because we know what it’s like to be in that position, we feel very fortunate, and thankful, to the folks out there who enjoy my photographs.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
It’s always hard writing about yourself, but here it goes. In 1986, My son Ted was killed by a drunk driver at the age of 17. After which I found solace in the wilderness of the Big Cypress National Preserve, where the mysterious, spiritual experience of being close to nature helped to restore my soul. Resolving to relinquish my ties to color photography, I destroyed all my color work and vowed to use only black and white film. I purchased an 8″x10″ view camera and enlarger. Today I have earned myself widespread recognition resulting in museum exhibits in the United States and Internationally. Photography is my life, beyond that I care deeply about the environment. This earth is all we have, if we don’t start taking care of it, we will kill it and thus kill ourselves. It’s time to wake up and realize we can’t live without a healthy earth. I always end my talks by asking, “Do you believe the world is round?” And people give me a weird look. Then I say, “Do you treat it as though it is round?” What we do here, affects “over there”.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love to photograph primeval areas that have not been touched by man. So my favorite spot is the Big Cypress National Preserve. Naturally, I would bring my friends to my Big Cypress Gallery and stay in the Swamp Cottage on the property. Since we are a bit away from the store, I bring food in. We enjoy sitting outside around the campfire and chat with our friends and staff who stay on our property. We grill out, do a little marshmallow roasting, and enjoy the natural surroundings around us. The next day I would take my friends out on a Big Cypress swamp walk tour, located right on our property. My friends will enjoy the pristine splendor of natural Florida as they traverse through a rarely seen world, filled with vibrant colors and mysterious sounds. In this vastly diverse wilderness of subtropical flora and fauna found nowhere else, my friends are surrounded by nature in her purest and most sacred state. So this starts the trip off. Now it’s time to venture off property. We head to the Havana Cafe’ which has fantastic Cuban food and is a great lunch spot. After lunch, we head to the Smallwood Store and the Rod and Gun Club. These are always fun spots to share with our friends. We are headed back now to our Big Cypress Swamp Cottage, but first, we must stop at the smallest Post office in Ochopee. It’s an actual shed, been standing up since 1932. It has survived many hurricanes! The rest of the week, we head off to several areas off Tamiami Trail, such as Loop Rd., Gator Hook, and Shark Valley. Several regions have boardwalks you can walk out on, such as Kirby Storter and Big Bend. One week isn’t enough to see and do everything, but I have given you an excellent overview of what we do with our friends. We always try to fit lunch in at Joanie’s stone crab and see my friend Mike Owens at the Fakahatchee State Park. If we can, we try to fit in an airboat ride, and there are several off of the Tamiami Trail.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My kids spent a lot of time working and playing in our business buildings. I remember once I put them to work shrink wrapping framed images and paid them per image. They were only 7 & 9 years old and did a faster and better job than our employees! Needless to say, I had a talk with my employees the following Monday! But, including them in the business allowed them to see the work that takes place. Our daughter started her own business when she was 19 years old and then sold it and now she is running our business. I want to recognize our daughter Jackie for running both of my galleries. She’s doing a great job.