“I love the sky and I love the woods,” says award-winning photographer Clyde Butcher, who for 38 years has captured untrammeled landscapes on film with his large-format cameras.
Nowhere is that love more apparent than in Butcher’s photographs of Florida. To take them, he wades into oceans, up rivers, through swamps—and then he waits, sometimes for hours, to capture the light that best illuminates the wild heart of his home state.
“Wilderness, to me, is a spiritual necessity,” writes Butcher of his art. “When my son was killed by a drunk driver, it was to the wilderness that I fled in hopes of regaining my serenity and equilibrium. The mysterious spiritual experience of being close to nature helped restore my soul. My experience reinforced my dedication to use my art as an inspiration for others to work together to save nature’s places of spiritual sanctuary.”
Many of Butcher’s most arresting images come from places protected in the last two decades by the citizens of Florida. In 1990 the voters approved Preservation 2000, a 10-year program that raised $3 billion and protected 1.75 million acres.
The Conservancy was a leader and supporter of the program and its successor, a ballot initiative called Florida Forever, through which the state is devoting another $3 billion over 10 years to land and water conservation. The Conservancy helped with the reauthorization of the program to continue it past 2010 and is working to secure continued public funding for conservation in Florida, building on these landmark efforts.
The photographs showcase the fruits of Florida’s conservation investments and other Conservancy projects in Florida as interpreted by Butcher in images and words. As much works of art as documentations of nature, the photographs invite us to experience an almost shocking beauty. In their magnificent detail is written an ancient instruction, waiting for those who wish to see it: Walk far and look deeply.