SEEING THE LIGHT: Wilderness and Salvation: A Photographer's Tale by Tom & John Barry Shroder

SEEING THE LIGHT: Wilderness and Salvation: A Photographer's Tale

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A biography of perhaps the Everglades' most renowned photographer, featuring startling black-and-white images of a primeval-looking landscape. Clyde Butcher's unusual life as chronicled by Miami Herald staffers Shroder and Barry is nearly mythic in its sweep. He was an unrepentant nonconformist--an architecture school graduate who could not stomach working in an office, a commercial photographer who turned his back on financial security, and a husband and father who moved his family onto a sailboat rather than live a conventional life. Butcher's demons drove him to the Everglades, where he finally purchased a dilapidated but picturesque collection of shacks astride the Tamiami Trail. With the assistance of kindred spirits, Butcher refined his art in black and white. The results shown here are often astonishing in their clarity and dramatic composition, featuring endless cloud-speckled skies, the mysterious beauty of the cypress swamps, and the wide, sodden prairies of the Everglades. While the inspiration and circumstances behind the images are occasionally explained in the narrative, the photographs are arranged in no particular order of chronology or relationship to the events unfolding in the biographers' account. Yet they seem to accentuate the course of Butcher's life: Following a most harrowing chapter in which the Butchers' young son is senselessly killed in an auto accident is a picture of a streaming, dappled sky punctuated by isolated silhouettes of straggly cypress. At times the flow of the narrative is interrupted by sidesteps into the lives of tangential characters or hydrologic explanations, prompting a desire for a far longer work than this slender biography, and the authors' prose is occasionally overdramatic. Still, this is a fascinating and visually arresting record of a man's search for place and a pictorial chronicle of a vanishing landscape.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1995
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Random