This month contributing photographer Wyatt McSpadden, who has published works in Forbes, Newsweek, the New York Times Magazine, and Time, traveled the state taking photographs of Texas’s best Mexican food for this month’s cover story, “Some Like It Picante.”
texasmonthly.com: How was the concept for the photographs for this month’s cover story proposed to you? Did creative director Scott Dadich give you free reign, or was there a visual theme he wanted you to carry out?
Wyatt McSpadden: Scott was wide open to whatever I did. He wanted a loose, “real” feeling to the photos.
texasmonthly.com: What’s your usual process for putting photos together to accompany a story? Are you given a copy of the text before you set out to work, or do you have a vision that you put together on your own?
WM: I had a list of the places. I didn’t have any preconceptions. I just kept my eyes open and was ready to shoot.
texasmonthly.com: How long did you work on this story?
WM: I spent eight days working on this assignment.
texasmonthly.com: Do you like Mexican food? If so, how often did you eat Mexican food while working on this assignment?
WM: I love it and ate plenty.
texasmonthly.com: As far as Mexican food is concerned, what is the most difficult thing to shoot? Why?
WM: What’s difficult? This was a dream job. Some places were more photogenic than others.
texasmonthly.com: You seem to specialize in portraits and landscapes—did you have to modify your technique for these photographs of heaping plates of Mexican food?
WM: No, it’s all portraiture, regardless of whether it’s a person, a plate, or a place.
texasmonthly.com: You had to travel across Texas to shoot these Mexican dishes. Where did you go to take these photos?
WM: I went to Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas, El Paso, San Antonio, Laredo, Pharr, and Austin.
texasmonthly.com: Did you work with the chefs of these Mexican restaurants to arrange the various dishes for the photos, or did you have sole artistic license to arrange the food how you wanted?
WM: I just shot it how they fixed it.
texasmonthly.com: Do you have a favorite memory from your travels for this assignment?
WM: The scene at El Hidalguense in Houston was fantastic. It was a party—music, a clown, dancing waitresses, and lots of cabrito. It was a wild, unexpected scene.
texasmonthly.com: You contribute photographs to many publications that focus on various subjects—current events, sports, politics, business, and art. Do you enjoy taking photos of one genre over another?
WM: I just like getting out and seeing new places and meeting new people.