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August 08, 2007


black and white image, a tree amidst the swamp
"Splendid Isolation"
Clyde Butcher

Hope In The Negatives

Hope in the negatives

Clyde Butcher's color photographs of natural settings were a commercial success. After he moved his family from California to Florida, he got curious about taking black and white photos in the swamps, but he shied away from doing so because he feared those photographs would never sell. 

Then, on June 15, 1986 - which was both Father's Day and his anniversary - Clyde's son Ted was killed in a traffic accident by a drunk driver. No one else was seriously hurt. A few months later, Clyde went to the dump with $300,000 worth of commercial color photography equipment and threw it out.

As he watched one of the dump trucks crushing the materials, Clyde wondered if he were crazy. He wasn't: he went straight to the swamps of the Everglades and started photographing in black and white.  They were among the most successful photographs he's ever taken.

To this day, Clyde is still trying to recapture the magic of his first days of shooting. He has also become a committed environmentalist.  He talks with guest host Aaron Henkin about what drives him to continue photographing Florida's endangered swamps and aquifers - in part, it's his hope that they, unlike his son, will have a second chance.

Aaron also talks with writer Cynthia Barnett, author of the book "Mirage: Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S."

Cynthia is a reporter who grew up in Florida. She's seen firsthand the disappearance of water sources throughout her home state - this in a part of the country thought by early settlers to have inexhaustible water supplies. Cynthia's own attachment to the rivers and aquifers is also personal: her children have grown up searching for shark teeth and napping in a canoe moving downstream. Cynthia met Clyde while she was writing her book - his photographs make her believe in the possibility of redemption.

Learning From Fraud

Upheaval in the mortgage industry is rocking the stock market this summer. In March, Dick Gordon talked to a man with a unique perspective on the industry - Jerome Mayne served time in prison for committing mortgage fraud. Jerome says he never thought he'd get in trouble for processing questionable documents that the realtor gave him about a potential buyer. He didn't look too closely, and didn't want to. Jerome now works to help companies spot fraud early on.

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