Nothing breeds success like, well, success. And John Fielder has had plenty of it -- on the business side, anyway. Although Amendment 25, the growth-control initiative he helped create and publicize, was bulldozed into oblivion like a Douglas County prairie dog habitat on November 7, the photographer's must-have coffee-table book, Colorado 1870-2000, was recently honored by the Colorado Center for the Book. The real rewards, however, have come at the cash register: A lengthy exhibit at the Colorado History Museum, a weekly series in the Rocky Mountain News and on Channel 4, and an accompanying marketing blitz ("A Photo Finish," March 16) helped make the hefty tome (in size and $95 price) a hot seller.
So hot, in fact, that Fielder is now franchising the idea. Utah: Then and Now ($50) and Oregon: Then and Now ($60), produced by Fielder's company, Westcliffe Publishers, take the same approach as Colorado 1870-2000 in terms of both subject matter and marketing. Like Fielder, photographers Tom Till of Utah and Steve Terrill of Oregon followed in the footsteps of early Western photographers, standing in the same locations as their predecessors and taking the same shots, in the process commenting on the changing landscape of their states. And both photogs have jumped on the book-signing circuit and publicity train, although not with Fielder's gusto. "For a regional book, the publicity has been terrific," Fielder says of the Utah and Oregon projects. "But compared to what we did in Colorado, no -- that was pretty exceptional. I don't think we'll ever be able to pull off what we pulled off in Colorado."
The Westcliffe think tank came up with the idea of doing Utah and Oregon versions even before sales of the Colorado book took off. "The ingredients for doing this are an inventory of historic photographs, and not all states have that," explains Fielder. "And second, a photographer who is willing to go out and copy someone else; and third, an established market for regional picture books, which both those states have."
Look for future Fielder franchises in New Mexico, Washington and California.