It was during a school trip from his home in North Carolina that John Fielder (1950–2023) fell in love with Colorado. He never forgot that first sight of the Rocky Mountains, and upon graduating from Duke University, he moved to the Centennial State. By his early 30s, his hobby of nature photography had become a full-time career.
Colorado’s Best Seller
Eventually, Fielder created his own publishing company, and his iconic images would appear in 50 books, including his magnus opus, Colorado 1870–2000.
Published in 2011, this best seller features black-and-white images of Colorado taken by pioneering photographer William Henry Jackson in the 19th-century paired with full-color photographs by Fielder taken at the very same spot more than a century later. In addition to his photography, John also described the poignant experience of traveling his adopted state and reflecting upon the dramatic changes he witnessed and shared. Colorado 1870–2000 has sold more than 200,000 copies to date.
John’s well-recognized photographs of ranches, mountain vistas, waterfalls, and fields strewn with flowers highlighted the beauty of the state he loved. As his career advanced, Fielder also used his renown to bring attention to the environment and conservation.
History Colorado Donation
Just weeks before his death on August 11, 2023, Fielder met with Governor Jared Polis. The occasion was his donation of 6,000 of his images to History Colorado for public use.
Of this magnificent gift, Fielder wrote, “For 40 years, I have worked tirelessly as a nature photographer and publisher to promote the protection of Colorado’s ranches, open spaces, and wildlands in Colorado and beyond. I believe that humanity will not survive without the preservation of biodiversity on Earth, and I have been honored to use my photography to influence people and legislation to protect our natural and rural environments. I am humbled that these photos have spurred the passage of the 1992 Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund Initiative (GOCO) and Congress’s Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993, among other land-protection projects across this state that I love.”
Colorado has lost a great champion. John Fielder will be missed.
In this magnificent Fielder photograph, Louis Bacon’s Trinchera Blanca Ranch stands guard over the San Luis Valley in Southern Colorado.
Originally published in The Land Report Summer 2023.