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Spotless composition, symmetrical lines, a pastel color palette. What is the first thing that comes to mind when we think of the work of director Wes Anderson? I’d venture to say that anyone who ever watched his films would point to his aesthetic “perfection.” Those poetic locations: lighthouses, trains, old buildings, all of it adorned by a layer of warmth that makes us feel like we are looking at something completely new and at the same time so familiar and nostalgic; innocent, yet also deeply poignant.
In a way, Anderson unlocked a different way of looking at the world. He provided us a lens through which we can observe more carefully, with a camera (or drone) ready in our hands, eager to find beauty in unexpected places. The amount of photography lovers and general audiences that are attuned to the idiosyncrasies of Anderson’s work is growing by the day, which isn’t the least bit surprising.
Wally Koval, a New Yorker, began his adventure by compiling photographs of places that fit Wes Anderson’s aesthetic on Instagram, creating a “bucket list” of locations that he would like to visit. That’s how the Accidentally Wes Anderson project came to light in 2017. The account quickly became a community where photographers from all over the world shared their work, their projects, their view of natural landscapes, or buildings that may have never actually been part of a Wes Anderson film, but definitely could have been. Unexpected corners of the world were just waiting to be photographed.
As a result, this project resulted in a book that became a New York Times Best-Seller. It’s a collection of some of the most notable photographs that were submitted to Accidentally Wes Anderson.
I’ve been following this account for at least two years. I personally find Wes Anderson’s aesthetic approach gorgeous, and I love being a spectator of the art that is shared on AWA. When I first heard that a porteño had managed to find a place within that community, I immediately felt compelled to look into who it was. That’s how I came across the work of Matías De Caro, whose drone photography and impeccable compositions depict various Buenos Aires locations.
Tell us a bit about yourself. When did you start taking photos? What things inspired you to venture into that world?
Thank you! I am from Flores and I lived there until I was 25 years old. I have a degree in Business Administration and I’m the founder of Huerta Coworking, my day job. Until last year I taught an annual Art Direction course at HAUS. I hadn’t studied anything related to photography. In May 2019 I gifted myself a drone for my birthday, after following some accounts for a long time. Since childhood I’ve had a kind of infatuation with symmetry and overhead photography, and I felt that a drone would enable me to take the photos I was looking for. My biggest inspiration on a visual level is, and always will be, Wes Anderson.
Our city is full of corners and places that we may not appreciate daily, but that undoubtedly deserve to be photographed. What is it that attracts you the most? What places did you enjoy photographing the most?
There is something about Buenos Aires that I think most cities have, which is that when you live in it, you don’t really realize just how beautiful it is. Especially in recent years, when I’ve been out for a walk, or riding in a car, or on a bus, I’ve been searching for something to photograph (before, with my smartphone camera) to show a different perspective on something that has probably existed there for a long time. From the moment I bought the drone, I developed that habit further, and currently I have a TRELLO marking all the places or buildings that I see that at some point I want to go and shoot. My favorite place to photograph in Argentina was the Naval Hospital, because I went to take a photo that I had pictured in my head for a long time. And then the Bacalar lagoon in Mexico, with its incredible colors.
If there is something that never fails to attract our attention, and makes us want to achieve the same, it’s when an Instagram account grows in follower count rapidly, sometimes resulting in ventures outside of the virtual world. Is achieving success on social networks something you consider important?
I consider it important for the simple fact that I enjoy the fact that there are so many people who like the photos I take, and this motivates me to keep uploading and thinking of new ideas to execute. Perhaps today I don’t see it as something that helps me directly to set up parallel projects or something like that, since I’m still approaching it as a hobby, but I am excited that more and more people like what I do, and I try to encourage them to participate so that they also feel part of it.
We think “Accidentally Wes Anderson” is a great example of what we mentioned; having sustained long-term constant work together with a community of photographers, who in turn committed to the project as if it were their own, submitting their works, which resulted in a successful book, creating something tangible result out of what the community developed online. How do you feel knowing that you are part of that whole?
Being a fan of Wes Anderson’s, and being a follower of that account for years, it was crazy for me to be part of that community. Many photos were intended directly for that page, to be part of his IG account (not to mention the book). When I woke up one day and had the “@accidentallywesanderson mentioned you” notification and saw that my photo of the CCK had been shared, I couldn’t believe it. I fulfilled a goal that I had set for myself, which only motivated me to keep doing this.
How much “accidentally” is there in Accidentally Wes Anderson? The concept of “accidentally” here would refer to “something that happens or arises unexpectedly, since it is not part of the natural or essential of the thing in question.” Knowing that, can we really consider that there is something accidental in the perfection and symmetry of Anderson’s work?
For me there’s nothing more perfect than symmetry. It gives me tremendous peace of mind to see a building or a photo with all its windows or the arrangement of its elements arranged symmetrically. I think the account managed to play with a concept and a phrase that anyone who has seen his movies will sometimes use, which is “THAT’S SO WES ANDERSON.” As a director, he managed to appropriate symmetry almost as if he were the only one using it. There are many other directors who use this resource, but he takes it to an extreme level where there can be practically no scene where there is no symmetry. If you arrange the furniture in your house, if you arrange the books in your library, if you look at a door with two windows on each side, and everything is symmetrically separated, it is very likely that you will say “THAT’S SO WES ANDERSON.” I think that whoever had a building where they arranged things in this way, obviously did not do it accidentally. But playing with the “accidental” of stumbling into the symmetry as a third party, I find beautiful.
How much influence did or do aesthetics have on your work? Did you dive deep into this style because of Wes Anderson or was it already present in your work and you just saw it reflected in his style?
Wes Anderson and his movies are my biggest reference, no doubt about it! But there’s something about that perfection that comes from way back and lately I’ve been giving it some thought. It’s all related to mathematics. Ever since I was little I really liked math. I found it simple because of its perfection. An equation should work from all angles, you know? As the years went by, that love for numbers and perfection led me to pursue a career in administration and have an entrepreneurial spirit. What really surprised and gripped me was how I could apply that logic to photography.
What was the selection process like for the book? Had you already sent a couple of pics or was it just that one photo that you felt was THE one?
When I took the photo at the naval hospital, I took it with the account in mind. However, because they had already featured one of my photographs, nothing really came of it. A long time after uploading the pic to my account and after meeting Wally Koval (the genius behind all this) thanks to his repost of the CCK photo, he encouraged me to apply for it to show up in the book. 2 or 3 months after that, I got an e-mail saying I had been selected out of 20,000 photos that had been sent.
Tell us about the chosen photograph! How much preparation was there behind it?
I spent all my childhood in Flores and Caballito, so I passed the naval hospital all the time. Every time I did, I would stand and stare at its windowpanes. From the moment I bought my drone, I knew I had to take that photo, so I waited for a day with some good lighting (I already knew it had to be during sundown because of the shadow cast) and I went and took the photograph with a friend. I had the picture all planned out in my head, I just had to take it and edit it. Sometimes (this was not the case, though) I stumble upon opportunities for pics when I’m flying the drone, but other times I really think the photos through. It’s a wonderful feeling, to shoot and see that it was all I had pictured in my mind.
There are certain turning points in our lives and careers that really leave their mark. Do you feel like there was a before and after in relation to how you perceive yourself because of this opportunity? In terms of business, do you feel like some doors are starting to open for you due to this milestone?
Like most people, 2020 was a year where I spent a lot of time thinking about what I want to do with all this. I really like it! And I don’t want to stop liking it at all. Because of this, many job opportunities with my drone arose, but I decided to turn them down since they were not related to art in any way. I’ve got a business that gives me work and photography is something that I keep as a hobby during my free time and I want to keep it strictly artistic. I’m open to developing it, but always on that plane. That’s why last year I did a course on Art Direction and I think it has provided me with a myriad of tools to walk that path. I’d love it if a band asked me to do album cover art for them, for example.
We know the book’s subject matter revolves around Wes Anderson and the images and stylistic resources he uses. Which are the main elements that distinguish yourself in the context of the book’s work-frame.
Symmetry, minimalism, and overhead shots. I believe those three elements are defining features of my work and I always try to have at least one of them show up in my photos.
To wrap up, we saw you post many pics of restaurants and bars with a very defined aesthetic and mysticism. Here at LLL we are always recommending places for our readers. Could you tell us which is one of your favorite spots?
I love eating and I feel like lately, it’s not enough for a restaurant to have good food to be successful. The place has to have a distinct look to it, or be “instagramable” so to speak. So I try to find those spots and upload pics of the food and the place too! If you people wanna have the best knishes and mushroom puff pastries in town, head down to La Garage, in Palermo.