texasmonthly.com: How did the idea to do a photo piece on butterflies come about?
Scott Dadich: This was an idea I had years ago, just after doing our barbecue photo essay on cuts of meat presented as insects in the May 2003 issue. Dan had done a piece for Texas Monthly called “Meet the Beetles” [June 1992] in which he took black and white portraits of Texas beetle specimens. He treated them like art objects, sculpture really, and they were just stunning. So it seemed like a no-brainer to do a combination of the two photo essays: show the variety of Texas lepidoptera and the beauty of the individual specimens.
texasmonthly.com: How long have you worked with contributing photographer Dan Winters? Does he usually pitch an idea? Or do you go to him?
SD: Dan and I have worked together for nearly six years now. The very first photos Dan made for me were the peach still lifes we ended up running in Texas Monthly in June of 2003. He actually shot them in 2000, and we held them for a few years waiting for the right time to run them. He and I have a very collaborative relationship—both of us tossing out ideas to one another. He comes to me with ideas, and I bring him ideas as well. We help each other refine the content and narrow our focus into a workable story.
texasmonthly.com: What was the thought process behind this photo feature on butterflies? Was there anything in particular you wanted to convey?
SD: We really wanted these to be very simple photographs. There should be no editorializing, no message making, just a simple, elegant presentation of these beautiful creatures. When I was a kid, I loved to catch butterflies and study them—I think most children in Texas do, and I wanted this piece to be a warm reminder of both growing up in Texas and of spring itself. I don’t think people realize that Texas is home to more species of lepidoptera than any other state in America,