Butterflies !

About my obsession with butterflies.


In the darkness of the undergrowth
In the darkness of the undergrowth

Since I started photography, I’ve always been quite fascinated by butterflies. I remember the first photograph that gave me deep and joyful satisfaction was one of a scarce swallowtail that had just landed on a purple flower as I was descending Saint-Jean des Vignes hill (near my hometown, close to Lyon) after a long hike.

Come to think of it, these creatures have one of the most intriguing life-cycle of the living world. They’re born as sometimes ugly, sometimes passable, oftentimes evil caterpillar, which crawl on the grass and on the trees, devour every leaf they can find, leave some poor trees devastated, and more often than not throw their poisonous darts at unfortunate hikers who come to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then, when they have eaten enough, they’ll fall asleep in their cocoon, and far from the eyes of the world, they’ll transform in one of the most beautiful living beings of the whole creation.

But the most amazing aspect of butterflies is that somehow, they also are the most poetic creatures you can think of. From the day they become butterflies to the end of their days, butterflies have only one goal : love. And that’s all they do : they chase love. They look like young people who experience love for the first time in summer : they’re beautiful in their innocent playfulness. But instead of parting at the end of the season, and growing up for another life, leaving their dreams behind, they die. You can see it as tragic. I find it pretty romantic, though. They go with the summer days.

I guess that’s what the poet John Keats meant when he wrote these lines to Fanny Brawne : “I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain”. These lines haunt me, because in a sense, it defines love at its most passionate moment, which is only a fleeting moment, unfortunately, though we can keep the memory alive if we’re strong enough, and be happy for fifty common years.

Quite like love also, butterflies are not something you can chase. It chooses to land near you, and when it goes, there’s not much you can do. Try to catch it, and it will go away, or miserably die if you unfortunately happen to touch it. The only solution is to be patient, do what you have to do, and then sometimes, it comes back to you and lands right where you were wanting it to. And sometimes it doesn’t, and you just have to move on.

But enough with my digressions. There are some pictures of butterflies I want to show you, and I hope you’ll like them all !