Hi, my name is Anna. I like to eat well and travel often, a mantra that has guided my photography for years. Kansas City is my home and my favorite place to photograph astounding culinary. My dad instilled a sense of wanderlust in me from a young age. Whether we were just hopping in the car and driving to a new part of the city or flying across oceans, I always got a sense of excitement just knowing I was going to see something new. For as long as I can remember, I have always been happiest when experiencing a new place, and even more so when I'm photographing it. I really don't discriminate: whether that be on the shores of the Amalfi Coast or in a Midwest diner, I think there's beauty to capture everywhere. I'm a travel photographer by heart and a culinary photographer by trade. Kansas City is my home, and my favorite place to photograph is the astounding culinary variety that exists in the heart of the country. From here I've jetted off to places like Argentina, Spain, Haiti, Italy, Morocco and many more to shoot everything from the “exotic” to the ordinary. Observing everyday life in other cultures is my favorite thing about what I do, because I get to share it with other people.
You have been traveling throughout the world for years, so it’s safe to say you’re a seasoned traveler. How did you get your start? What advice would you give those interested in following a similar path?
I was lucky to have a family that always placed a huge emphasis on travel. But the reality is for that a lot of people, it can seem like there’s a huge financial roadblock between you and the destination of your dreams. My best advice is to always research the most cost effective way to get where you are going, so you can make sure to budget for a few things that will really make your trip unforgettable– like a great local bottle of wine or a locally guided private tour. A few tools that really help me out are apps like Hopper (it tracks flight cost patterns and alerts you when it’s the cheapest time to buy), HotelTonight, or the more obvious money savers like Airbnb and Kayak. Airline credit cards are an incredible way to help you afford flights (my Southwest credit card is my saving grace, and their points system is very generous). Also, if you’re a photographer, never forget that you have a huge tool to offer: I often will take photos for trade at bed & breakfasts while I travel, totally eliminating my accommodations expenses.
How does photography influence the way you travel and see the world around you?
Being a photographer adds a whole new dimension to the experience of being a traveler. When your eye is constantly searching for unique scenes to make a photograph, it means you’re constantly paying attention to the details. For me, those little things often end up being my favorite memories from a destination– crates of oranges piled up in a medina in Marrakech, a cute little kid peaking out from behind a bright gate in Mexico…for me, it’s always the details that make the biggest impression.
What impact would you say the various cultures you have been exposed to have had on you?
It impacts me in far more ways than I even realize, which is why it is such a valuable way to spend your time and money. It’s an education you can’t achieve in any other way, and an appreciation for all the many beautiful ways people live life around the world.
What is your favorite/funniest memory from your trip? Is there a particular travel moment you would relive given the opportunity?
My favorite vacation memories almost always revolve around a meal. I think food is often the best window into the culture of whatever city or country you’re visiting. One of my fondest memories is a picnic I had overlooking Florence, Italy with some of my closest friends and a wonderful woman named Patricia who taught me everything I know about food and wine. She made us some authentic Florentine dishes, and we all brought something we made or picked up from our favorite spots in town. I am forever grateful to her for inspiring me to do what I do everyday, and for giving me her meatball recipe– which I will guard with my life, so don’t even ask!
Speaking of favorite experiences, what would you say has been your favorite:
City or country to explore: Buenos Aires. I lived there for five months and still feel like I have so much left to see.
Locals to interact with: Haitians. Beyond being the most resilient people you will ever meet, they are wonderfully radiant and have the most contagious humor.
Destination for food: Tuscany. If I could eat pasta for every meal, I would– and basically already do!
Island or beach: Punta Mita, Mexico
Form of transportation: Any sort of boat. I just love being near the water.
Travel has a tendency to look very glamourous, though that is not always the case. What types of challenges have you had during your travels and how did you overcome them?
That’s definitely the truth. What matters is to be in it for the destination, not the accommodations. I’ve slept on dirt floors and fluffy king sized beds– at the end of the day, it just doesn’t matter what challenges arise as long as you get to where you’re going. When the flight gets delayed and the luggage gets lost and the hotel is more than a little bit scary, just remember why you went there in the first place– to see buildings containing lifetimes of history, taste recipes passed down through generations, and meet people who grew up thousands of miles away from you. That’s where the glamour is.
If you could, what moment would you relive from your travels?
By far the most breathtaking thing I have ever seen was a trip I took to Iguazu Falls in Argentina. It runs along the Argentine/Brazilian border. There are 275 waterfalls there, and there is no photo that could ever even begin to translate that experience. Butterflies literally land on you everywhere you go. It’s an absurdly magical place that I still sometimes can’t believe I have been to, and I would love to go back.
Of all the images you’ve captured through your travels, which would you say is your favorite? Why?
One of my favorite photos of all time is of wild horses being corralled in the Argentina countryside. What you wouldn’t know from looking at it is that I actually took it while I was riding a horse. Every other photo I took was wildly blurry, so it’s a miracle both that it turned out and that I didn’t fall off!
What travel experience surprised you the most?
I go to Punta Mita, Mexico with my family every year. It’s a small town in Mexico that we have grown to love over the past twelve years, and when you go somewhere for that long, you pretty much expect to know everything about the place. A few years ago, I decided to take one of the whale watching trips that they’re always hawking in the street. I was expecting a crowded boat and a far-off tail sighting. Instead, I got to the beach and met my guide, who insisted we go pick flowers before we get on the little boat. As the captain steered us towards the reported whale sightings, which ended up being a mom, dad and baby humpback, she started crying and throwing the flowers in the water saying “thank you, thank you” and telling them how beautiful they are. The whales stayed with us closely for hours, teaching the baby to breach and allowing us to look on. Their locals have a deep appreciation for these beautiful creatures that visit their home every winter, and it was so moving to see a glimpse of that. That day is one of my happiest memories.
What’s next for you?
I’m doing my best to start crossing off a long list of cities in the US that I have been wanting to visit for a long time. I finally made it to Santa Fe this summer, and fell in love with the desert. Next on my list are Austin, New Orleans, and Seattle.
Images Courtesy of Anna Petrow
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