On Friday, August 11, 2023, renowned nature photographer and environmentalist John Fielder (1950-2023) passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family in his home in Summit County, Colorado. Fielder’s stunning photos, combined with his passion for preserving nature, were critical to the creation and growth of numerous environmental initiatives and programs.
John Fielder worked tirelessly to promote the protection of Colorado’s ranches, open space, and wildlands during his 40-year career as a nature photographer and book publisher. His photography influenced people and legislation and earned him recognition, including the 1993 Sierra Club Ansel Adams Award, in 2011, the Aldo Leopold Foundation’s first Achievement Award ever given to an individual, and in 2017 Colorado Mountain College presented him an Honorary Degree in Sustainability Studies.
He toured the state in 1992 to promote the passage of the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund citizen’s initiative, a law redirecting all Colorado lottery profits to protect open space and create new parks and wildlife areas. This led to the creation of GOCO, on whose board he served for its first eight years. To date, GOCO has protected 2 million acres while investing $1.3 billion. His photographs of 19 wilderness areas in the book Our Colorado Wilderness Future influenced Congress to pass the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993.
In 2023 Fielder donated his Colorado photography to History Colorado. The museum is the repository of more than 7,000 photos distilled from 200,000 made since 1973 and is now available to the public for personal and commercial use. In addition, History Colorado received important artifacts from his career, including photography equipment, published books, various papers, and oral histories about life on the wilderness trail. Fielder worked directly with History Colorado to curate and open the exhibition at History Colorado Center titled REVEALED: John Fielder’s Favorite Place on July 22, 2023, just weeks before the photographer’s passing.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis stated, “I am saddened by the loss of John Fielder, who captured Colorado’s iconic beauty during his 50 years as a nature photographer. His unique talent allowed him to showcase our state to millions, and he will be dearly missed. I hope that we can all follow his example to appreciate and care for our outdoor lands.”
Throughout his career, Fielder published more than 50 books depicting his Colorado photography. He enjoyed teaching photography workshops to adults and children and presenting slide shows far and wide. From the nuclear submarine USS Colorado to the halls of the Colorado Supreme Court, his prints decorate thousands of walls around the world. John Fielder In Focus, a biography written by Steve Walsh for young people, was published about his life in 2019.
Fielder spent most of his life photographing his beloved adopted state of Colorado, yet found time to explore many more places in North America and worldwide. He donated thousands of images, books, and prints to non-profit environmental organizations to promote and fund their respective land use protection initiatives. In that same spirit, Fielder requests donations be made to Sierra Club, Conservation Colorado, Colorado Open Lands, and Save the Colorado. The family will conduct a private memorial service.
Fielder’s collection of photos can be found at HistoryColorado.org.
A Broadcast-ready pre-recorded interview with Fielder (recorded January 2023) is also available for use as needed. This hour-long pre-recorded interview explores Fielder’s inspirations, illustrious career as nature photographer and conservationist and is available in the following formats: .mp4; .mov, video files, .wav file or in transcript form.
John Fielder’s Colorado Collection Press Kit which includes hi-res photos, broadcast ready footage, and audio and transcript of an exclusive interview with Fielder
REVEALED: John Fielder’s Favorite Place Press Release
John Fielder’s Colorado Collection Press Release
About John Fielder:
John Fielder, renowned nature photographer, and publisher, has worked tirelessly to promote the protection of Colorado’s ranches, open space, and wildlands during his 40-year career. Over this time, he has taken hundreds of thousands of photos, garnered awards, advocated tirelessly for Colorado’s public lands, and influenced the passage of laws to protect public lands in Colorado and beyond.
Amongst his accolades are: serving as a foundational advocate in the creation of Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund (GOCO) in 1992 as well as serving as an original board member, influencing the passage of Congress’s Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993, being the first individual given an achievement award by the Aldo Leopold Foundation in 2011; receiving an honorary degree in Sustainability Studies from Colorado Mountain College in 2017; and having his photography featured in more than 50 books.
Fielder prides himself on having effectively been to each of Colorado’s 104,984 square miles over the past 40 years. During this time, he has tried to capture the sublimeness of this corner of Earth that he has always felt was most beautiful. In the future, John will continue to traverse the 28 mountain ranges, endless waterways, remote desert canyons, and vast plains of Colorado while contributing to the visual record of the Centennial state.
About History Colorado:
History Colorado is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and a 501(c)3 non-profit that has served more than 75,000 students and 500,000 people in Colorado each year. It is a 143-year-old institution that operates eleven museums and historic sites, a free public research center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation which provides technical assistance, educational opportunities, and other access to archaeology and historic preservation, and the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF), which is one of the nation’s largest state-funded preservation programs of its kind. More than 70% of SHF grants are allocated in rural areas of the state. Additionally, the offices of the State Archaeologist and the State Historic Preservation Officer are part of History Colorado.
History Colorado’s mission is to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. We serve as the state’s memory, preserving and sharing the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado through educational programs, historic preservation grants, collecting, outreach to Colorado communities, the History Colorado Center and Stephen H. Hart Research Center in Denver, and 10 other museums and historic attractions statewide. History Colorado is one of only six Smithsonian Affiliates in Colorado. Visit HistoryColorado.org, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information. #HistoryColorado