Anna Jones is a talented wedding and portrait photographer based in Des Moines, Iowa. Her work, both personal and professional, is rooted in storytelling. In January, she traveled with a friend to Cambodia for three weeks. Today, she shares a series of images from her trip photographed from a tuk-tuk, Cambodia’s ever present auto-rickshaw. Photographs and words by Anna Jones, editing and interview by Anjali Pinto.
AP: What did you hope to take away from visiting this part of the world? Was the actual takeaway different than expected?
AJ: I think travel to very different parts of the world opened my eyes and helped me reflect. Travel helps me get to know myself and better myself. I try to not have expectations, but rather absorb my surroundings and appreciate genuine human interaction with those around me.
AP: Did you find it challenging to make pictures in Cambodia, or were the locals open to you and your camera?
AJ: We walked across the border into Cambodia and I didn’t have money for my Visa (if you know me, this does not surprise you). I put my ATM card into the nearest machine and American money came out – I was shocked. This was just one demonstration that Cambodians are very welcoming to Americans – and in my experience, people rather enjoyed being photographed. That was pretty rad.
AP: How would you describe the look and feel of a tuk-tuk?
AJ: Awesome! I loved being in the open air — I could see, hear and smell everything around me. There are so many people on bikes of all kinds, so you really can just watch and experience life going on around you. It’s different than riding in a car next to many other cars, everything is much more open.
AP: Was it liberating to not consider making a sharp, neatly composed or straight image during those moments?
AJ: I love this kind of photography. But, I still got frustrated if I missed something. I purposefully made the images in motion in an attempt to share not just the image, but also the fleeting feeling of it all. I really loved how I wasn’t able to 100% choose my composition – I found that it forced me to find creative ways to make the images work and took me out of my comfort zone. Also, selective blur – I found with these images I liked when I accidentally got the background in focus instead of the foreground. Maybe it’s all lost in translation, but when I look at them I can remember.
AP: How do you feel when you look back on these images?
AJ: Like I want to go back!