John Fielder: Capturing the Minds of the Future


Noah Wehr, Editor in Chief



On Tuesday, November 15, John Fielder, Colorado photographer and author of 39 books, visited Arvada West High School to talk to the student body about the importance of environmental conservation.

“These days, you can’t not experience beautiful moments in time and beautiful places without being inspired to want to protect if forever for future generations,” Fielder says. “I d
do lots of public speaking… pressing on need for them to be active and to be political and vote for the right people and vote for the right issues to protect the miracle of 4 billion years of the evolution of life on earth.

Fielder decided to quit his high paying job in the department store business 40 years ago, when he turned his lifelong hobby of photography into a full time career.  

“I had these three perfect skills: selling, art, good skills in how to survive being outdoors combined all together to make a career about making nature photographs and putting them in books and calendars. So I quit my high paying job cold turkey to do what my passion said I should do for the re

Downtown denver 'C' 1870-2000
Downtown Denver ‘C’                      1870                                                                 2000

st of my life.”

His best known work is the Colorado 1870-2000 series, where Fielder takes takes the exact same pictures as William Henry Jackson did, a 19th century photographer. Fielder’s comparison shots shows the contrast between the locations 130 years later, showing how the environment has changed.


Fielder got his start through summer camps in the Appalachian mountains where he learned to appreciate the environment  

“The smells, the tastes, the sounds, the touch; not just the views of being outdoors. The serenity and the physicality of learning how to backpack and do hard things and the satisfaction you get from that, mentally made me like to be outdoors.

Fielder first visited Colorado on a school field trip in his early teens, where he instantly feel in love with the Centennial state.


“I was simply smitten by this wall of snow-capped peaks above a treeless plain. And the word C-O-L-O-R-A-D-O, it was the most poetic name for a place I had ever heard,” Fielder says “I realized at that moment that someone or something had guided me to this place, and that I belonged here for the rest of my life.”

Fielder is a founding member of the governor appointed Board of Great Outdoors Colorado and has used his photography to help protect Colorado’s natural beauty and wildlife. He is the recipient of both the Sierra Club‘s Ansel Adams Award (1993) and the Aldo Leopold Foundation’s Achievement Award (2011), being its first recipient.

Filder also stressed the importance of having a good art teacher, someone who encouraged his work no matter if it was any good or not.  

“I had this passion for being outdoors but I also had an influential art teacher in high school who taught me how to [fine art paint] but I wasn’t a great fine art painter.” Fielder says. “And one day I rented a camera, took that into the wilderness, and I fell in love with that as an artform”

Fielder currently owns an art gallery at 833 Santa Fe Drive in Denver, Colorado, where you can view and purchase his works. He is currently travelling across Colorado, speaking to thousands of people each year to teach them about the environmental issues of Colorado.  

   Photos courtesy of  of