Randall Kenneth Jones: Challenging the philosophy of color can show how black and white is creative, too

A black-and-white thinker is 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 gray — and the nuances that lie in between.

Children are taught that color represents creativity. Just ask any child about his or her 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/nature photographer Clyde Butcher is likely to turn your “black and white” belief system on its ear.

Butcher, an internationally renowned nature photographer who works exclusively in black and white, has built his career on challenging what it means to be a black-and-white thinker while redefining the importance placed on color.

Pay attention to the details

Every businessperson has an environment and resources to care for, a workplace ecosystem that must equally safeguard the needs of stockholders, employees and consumers.
Butcher’s primary goal is to promote and protect our natural environment. Butcher, who first and foremost views himself as an educator, has much to teach.

Responding to the tragic death of his 17-year-old son Ted, killed by a drunken 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,” Butcher says.

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

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

Rethinking the nature of business

It may be the nature of business to pay careful attention to the bottom line, but Butcher offers an unexpected, thought-provoking spin on the importance of achieving true balance: “Everything in nature has the same importance.”

While 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.

“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,” Butcher says.

A basic thought process that metaphorically applies to any type of big picture investigation — artistic, business or otherwise. What may initially seem to be of critical importance could ultimately end up clouding your judgment.

Left brain versus right brain

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.

Whether you see the world in black, white and/or shades of gray — 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 clydebutcher.com.

Speaker, writer and professional storyteller Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Fla. Visit randallkennethjones.com.

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Twitter: @RandallKJones