It’s been two years in the making, but Wally Koval’s new photography book Accidentally Wes Anderson has been well worth the wait. The tome is a visually compelling collection of images of unique destinations and quirky landmarks from over 50 countries, each one painstakingly chosen to encapsulate the imagined worlds of director Wes Anderson. A joyous celebration of travel and an homage to idiosyncratic cinema, it’s the ultimate in escapism.
The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Rushmore… You’ll know a Wes Anderson movie when you see it. There’s the distinctive narrative style; the offbeat humour; the whimsical characters; and, of course, the director’s quirky creative, from the costumes (the dysfunctional Tenenbaum family surely take the prize here) to – perhaps his most famous hallmark – those perfectly symmetrical, meticulously-constructed film frames, each one as atypical and appealing as the next.
It’s this vivid and unique aesthetic that first inspired self-described “Anderson fanboy” Wally Koval to set up the Instagram account @accidentallywesanderson in 2017, which shares photographs and stories of Anderson-like real-life locations around the world in all their hyper-stylised symmetry and vibrantly coloured glory.
While the site was accruing over one million followers, Koval was busy planning his next project – a book of the same name. Described as a “visual adventure of Wes Anderson proportions” Accidentally Wes Anderson is a collection of over 200 images (nine taken by Koval himself and the rest by amateur photographers and members of the AWA community), whittled down from over 15,000 submissions, of the world’s most eye-catching locations across more than 50 countries, all which wouldn’t look out of place on a Wes Anderson set, and each with its own fascinating story.
“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.” Koval writes in the book’s introduction.
Each picture is so extraordinary it’s hard to pinpoint standouts. There’s the black-and-white beauty of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton, South Carolina; the incongruously-situated Hotel Belvedere, which cradles a hairpin turn in the Furka Pass in Switzerland; guards standing atop the mustard yellow ramparts of the Amer Fort in Rajasthan; the rainbow-hued Choi Hung Estate in Hong Kong; and the totally out-there Penguin Post Office in Antarctica. Launderettes, train interiors, post boxes, beaches, flea markets… nothing goes unnoticed, everything celebrated for its beauty.
Including, of course, the Pancakes Stand in Krka National Park, Croatia, which Wes himself declares a favourite in his foreword. “The photographs in this book were taken by people I have never met, of places and things I have, almost without exception, never seen – but I must say: I intend to,” he writes
“Wally Koval and his collaborators have put together both a very entertaining collection of images and also an especially alluring travel guide (at least in the opinion of this actual Wes Anderson).”