Business Class: Clyde Butcher’s nifty shades of grey

By Randall Kenneth Jones

Originally published in the Naples Daily News
Friday, January 3, 2014

One who is categorized as a “black and white” thinker has been said to see only yes or no, right or wrong, good or evil—and nothing in between.

Some suggest black and white thinkers view the world without emotion and practice only logical thought.

Naysayers sing the praises of the various shades of grey—and the nuances that lie in between.

As for our more colorful personalities, even our children are taught that color represents creativity.

Just ask any child about their reaction to their first big box of Crayola crayons.

Black may work well for an outline but what child can resist the temptation of Shocking Pink, Midnight Blue or Jungle Green?

Before you decide where you lie on the color/thought spectrum, celebrated landscape and nature artist Clyde Butcher is likely to turn your “black and white” belief system on its ear.

Cuyahoga Valley -- Photo by Clyde Butcher -- used by permissionWith a passionate fan base and more awards than you can shake a Bald Cypress tree at, Clyde Butcher has built his career on challenging what it means to be a black and white thinker while redefining the importance placed on color.

As an internationally renowned nature photographer, Butcher works exclusively in black and white.

Responding to the tragic death of his 17-year-old son Ted, killed by a drunk driver in 1986, Butcher made a career-changing decision to honor his child—and life itself—and shun the commercial trends of photography. “It became more important to pursue what I loved—not what ‘sells,’” says Butcher.

Henceforth, Butcher’s artistic joy—his soul—would forever be expressed in black, white and the seemingly monochromatic rainbow that lies in between.

Why? “Color gets in the way of seeing what is really in the picture. When all you look for is color, you miss the details.”

Even more thought-provoking: “Everything in nature has the same importance.”

Though maintaining focus is essential in business, of equal importance is the ability to stop and reconsider what shaped that focus in the first place—or Butcher’s beloved “details.”

An advocate of seeing the “Big Picture,” Butcher prefers his work displayed in large formats.

But wait.

“When it’s big, you can’t really see it all—you have to feel it. Your eye can’t take in the entire image, which forces you to step in and study it,” he says.

A basic thought process that metaphorically applies to any type of big picture investigation—artistic, business or otherwise.

After all, what may initially seem to be of critical importance could ultimately end up clouding your judgment.

As Butcher sees photography as both science and emotion, he ultimately dares the left-brained (analytical) and right-brained (creative) public to do something profoundly simple: think.

Randall Kenneth Jones and Clyde Butcher Photo by Helene Gaillet de NeergaardWhether you see the world in black, white and/or shades of grey…

Or if you prefer the colorful Land of Oz to Dorothy Gale’s Kansas…

Butcher’s lesson is clear: no matter what you do in life, a little extra thought as well as an attention to—and respect for—detail goes a very long way.

For more on Clyde Butcher, visit


Randall Kenneth JonesMarketing guru, business humoristprofessional-courtesy advocate, branded-content writer, creative-development consultant, and entertaining motivational speaker Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Florida.

Photos: Dunes by Clyde Butcher — used by permission — all rights reserved (top); Cuyahoga Valley by Clyde Butcher — used by permission — all rights reserved (middle); Randall Kenneth Jones and Clyde Butcher — photo by Helene Gaillet de Neergaard (bottom).