Photographer Clyde Butcher is most well known for his giant photos of the Everglades taken with a large-format camera. In 2017 he suffered a stroke, but that setback hasn’t slowed him down. In this 4.5-minute video, Butcher explains why photography continues to be important to him.
Butcher originally created massive artistic prints of his landscape photography that he used to bring awareness to the Everglades. To him, the area he photographed was a special place and it was his goal to show that to as many people as possible through his work.
Using large format photography, Butcher captured grand vistas in tricky situations that would be a challenge even for more modern equipment. In the video above there are scenes of him up to his chest in the water, gingerly swapping film slides and meticulously checking focus.
“I make the picture big so that when you get close to it, you have to scan it. And when you scan it, you get the feeling of being there. If you do it just right, it actually looks three-dimensional,” he says. “That’s why it’s large. it’s not the ego to make a big print, but to bring people into the picture.”
After suffering a stroke in 2017, Butcher was at first depressed and disheartened at his physical condition: He was afraid he would not be able to take photos anymore. But instead of wallowing in that sadness, Butcher adapted. He left his large-format camera at home and instead took his much smaller, nimbler digital camera. The experience of taking photos revitalized him and he thinks he might take even more photos than he did before the stroke.
“I think when you get to my age, it feels good to accomplish things,” Butcher says. “People don’t realize how important it is to accomplish something. There are all kinds of things that older people have the knowledge wisdom, and they waste it at home watching television. You’ve got to get out and start doing things. There are so many important things to be done.”
For those photographers who struggle with physical and health issues and therefore feel disconnected from the art they once loved, Butcher’s story shows that being held back by those problems can be mainly mental. If you set your mind to it, you can continue to be a prolific photographer.
(via ISO 1200)