Amer Fort | Rajasthan, India | c. 1592 Photo by Chris Schalkx
Since 2017, Wally and Amanda Koval’s Instagram handle @AccidentallyWesAnderson has put out a mission for fans of Wes Anderson’s films: to photograph real-life glimpses of his perfectly crafted, painstakingly detailed, pastel-coloured worlds. Watching The Grand Budapest Hotel—not an actual place—or Moonrise Kingdom, for example, one would imagine that the pristine symmetry, singular quirks and dreamlike charm wouldn’t be found so easily in, say, the everyday chaos of Mumbai. The fans delivered—so much so that over 200 of those Wesworld-inspired frames now comprise the newly released Accidentally Wes Anderson book, with a foreword by Anderson himself.
Accidentally Wes Anderson will make you want to travel, not least because of the gorgeous imagery and delightful whimsy but also for the detailed captions that bring alive the people and histories embedded in the pictures. Serendipity runs through Anderson’s films and the book produces that effect of stumbling upon the right moment and place in time. Seven Indian locations feature: Delhi’s Humayun’s Tomb, Mumbai’s Novelty Cinema, Kerala’s Vizhinjam Old Portuguese Church, Amer Fort, Jaipur’s Hawa Mahal, Udaipur’s Lake Pichola and Gulmarg Gondola. Many are new even to AWA’s 1.2 million followers.
While Anderson already has his eyes on the pancake stand photographed in a Croatian national park, for Wally Koval, the real surprise in the book was Antarctica: “That just sealed the deal on our understanding that the AWA aesthetic can be found anywhere in the world,” he said in an interview with Conde Nast Traveller. Scotland, Spain and Houston, USA were the Kovals’ 2020 destinations that, like this year’s best-made plans, have moved to 2021 but as always, the couple is ready to swap them out for suggestions from their online community. Koval says his appreciation of Anderson’s aesthetics has only evolved with time: “Looking at the world from a slightly different perspective opens things up much more than you might expect.”
Read on for a sneak peek at the photos and the introduction from the book, ACCIDENTALLY WES ANDERSON by Wally Koval, published in hardback by Trapeze, 29th October, 2020 www.accidentallywesanderson.com/book.
Introduction: This is an adventure
You know it when you see it: whether it’s the symmetrical lines, pastel hues, immaculate composition, or something idiosyncratic and beautiful that you can and cannot describe at once, the director Wes Anderson has an immediately identifiable style to his films. How fantastic, then, to discover real places around the world that look like accidental captures from one of his films?
AccidentallyWesAnderson is now a global community of more than one million Adventurers who seek the most beautiful, idiosyncratic, and interesting places on earth—perhaps places they may have passed by, or others they have always wanted to explore—to find the unique and unexpected stories behind the facades.
I started this project as a personal travel bucket list for my wife, Amanda, and me back in 2017, after happening upon a series of photos of places that shared a resemblance to the look of a Wes Anderson film. As a fan of the director’s work and an avid, curious traveler, I was intrigued by these places that seemed “just so,” and I wanted to learn more about them. So, I set out to find where the photos had been taken. Slowly a community grew around this idea; we began sharing our own adventures, and soon thousands of submissions were pouring in from all around the world. The photos were beautiful, the narratives were intriguing, and the community was the positive, engaging, curious cherry on top.
My life has been immeasurably enriched by the opportunity to travel and experience other parts of the world, other cultures, and other people. And while we may think we need to venture far from home to find something extraordinary, there are so many amazing things in our own backyard waiting to be found.
Growing up in Delaware, I went to the Grand Opera House (page 49) on school field trips and for performances. I have been there countless times—but never knew the intriguing story of its past until this project drove me to discover it. I urge you not just to use this book as inspiration for where you might travel next, but to look at your own hometown with a new perspective. There’s surely something fascinating to discover once you start looking for it.