She Combines High End Fashion Work with Keepsake Photo Shoots for Tourists

When plans for a conventional office job fell through, Anna Meshcheri, instead turned to creative endeavors. Today’s she’s a photographer for everyone ranging from well heeled tourists who want memories of their stay to glitzy fashion clients such as Nordstrom and Saks.

| 15 Apr 2024 | 04:26

Since Anna Meshcheri was once a tourist in Manhattan, she now loves offering vacation photoshoots to visitors here.

The Russian native came to New York in 2011 for vacation and never left–and now helps others capture their most memorable moments in the Big Apple.

“You know, when you travel and you ask someone to take your picture and when you look at the picture that was taken, it’s usually just ok,” she explained.

“I was a tourist myself when I just came, so I know all the beautiful spots. Plus I can work with the crowd and ask people to give us some space. And usually when people see a person with a camera, they show more respect because they see we’re working.”

Before her foray into photography, Meshcheri earned two bachelor degrees–one in Saint Petersburg in logistics and supply chain management, and the other, at Queens College, in international business.

“My biggest dream was to work for Bloomberg [financial company]. And when I didn’t get the job, I was crying and called my mom and was like, ‘This is the worst day of my life.’ But, in fact, it was the best day of my life,” she said.

Meshcheri, who lives on the Upper West Side, then started to pursue creative projects–things, she said, that were not considered jobs, but hobbies, in her native country–and found her true passion in photography.

In 2021, she opened Times Square Photo Studio on West 46th Street.

Besides vacation photoshoots, a majority of her work consists of fashion and catalog photography, and her pictures are featured in advertisements for retailers like Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue.

“Now I can proudly say I’m working as a photographer,” she gushed.

“I found something that I love, something that I’m crazy about.”

Tell us about your path to becoming a photographer?

I never expected to become a photographer. I was studying in Saint Petersburg, Russia and got a bachelor’s in logistics and supply chain management. When you grow up in Russia, your parents expect you to become an engineer, doctor. Photographer was never even considered as a job, more like a hobby. Then I came to the United States and had the Russian mentality and was very much influenced by it, so I was so sure that I had to have an office job. That’s why I went to Queens College and got my second bachelor’s in international business ... I decided [the corporate world] was probably not for me. And having a 9 to 5 job is difficult, especially since I have family in Russia and I like to travel a lot. It’s difficult to find days off to travel. So I ended up working on different creative projects and then realized I had a passion for photography.

When did you open the studio?

In 2021, right after the pandemic. I found an empty spot in Times Square. I actually wanted to open a studio for the creatives, for people to come, create, take pictures, and things like that. But then I just realized I wanted it all to myself. It’s like a baby to me now. I’m working 24/7.

Tell us about the vacation shoots that you do.

I travel myself a lot, and often, I noticed that almost every picture I ask people to take of me looks the same. I went to Dubai and I asked somebody to take a picture of me and Burj Khalifa [the world’s tallest structure]. And when I saw the picture, it was just me and no Burj Khalifa. And I realized that it’s a great idea to offer people vacation photoshoots. I think it’s great, especially when you’re coming to a city like New York, to come back home with gorgeous pictures that you can put on your wall, post on your social media. It’s a great memory compared to taking them on your phone.

Do you photograph a lot of weddings?

I do weddings, but this is not my passion. I love vacation photoshoots because I get to meet people from all over the world and learn a lot of cool things. It’s just more interesting to me. Weddings are a little bit more straightforward and I’m very particular and always get anxious that I can miss a moment. For me, it just feels like too much pressure. I can do it, but I feel very pressured. That’s why I don’t market myself there.

What is a memorable event you photographed in the city?

The last one was for “The Hunger Games” in November. A client hired me to take pictures of an event, and I wasn’t told what kind of an event it was going to be. I was told just to come to Times Square and meet my client there. They were promoting the movie “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes,” and I went backstage and took pictures of people singing the theme song. It was so amazing. I love “Hunger Games” and this was the only time I regretted that I was hired to work. [Laughs] Because there were so many people with posters asking for autographs and I wanted one as well. But instead, I was standing right next to the movie stars and taking their pictures, so it was very cool.

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