It’s undeniably the dream of millions to get paid to travel the world and capture your adventures along the way. Mike Mattera never intended to make a living from his passion. Instead, he simply wanted to share his photography with likeminded people on the internet. Just a little over a year ago, he posted his first photos on Instagram. Today, he has a following of almost 700K, with no end in sight. Mike, also known as “Witness” on Instagram, told us all about his first love, photography, and what his life looks like as a professional travel and lifestyle photographer.
Congratulations on almost 700K followers on Instagram! When and how did you first start your page?
Thank you so much! I started posting my photos to my page only about 14 months ago! Initially I did so just to share my experiences with people who also have a love for photography. At first, the benefit was getting to share my photos with others and show my followers how I see the world through a lens.
Your photography skills are self-taught. Can anyone pick up a camera and be a successful travel photographer like you?
Absolutely! The internet is the great equalizer. For someone that is passionate about photography, there are tons of resources available. There are countless talented photographers who give out tons of information on how to up your photography game! And the best part about it all is that it is totally FREE on YouTube! I plan to start making tutorials on editing, photography etc. very soon as well! Watch the tutorials, learn, practice & most importantly get creative!
What is one tip for everyone to instantly improve their Instagram game?
Consistency & engagement! I don’t think you should be concerned about the number of followers you have. Everyone who follows you has gone out of their way to do so & therefore is now invested in seeing what you can do. Put out quality content & people will follow! I think the most important thing is engaging with your audience on a personal level, being more than just an Instagram page but also someone who can give advice, teach & inspire.
You interact with your followers through scheduled meetups, Q&A sessions, and more. What does your fan base mean to you?
My followers mean the world to me. We share the same passions, whether that be photography or a desire to travel the world. They really inspire me & I feel that I do have a connection with them!
What does a normal day as a travel photographer look like?
It starts with finding the location & studying it a bit so I am not going blindly! Once I am there, I usually look for the places where I will be able to capture its essence. I take a TON of photos and try to get as creative as possible. Whether it be a surfer walking the beach in Portugal, a sunrise in the Maldives or the piers of Brooklyn reaching out toward Manhattan. I then upload my photos to my computer & start editing, find something I like and upload it to Instagram!
What are your next planned destinations, and what is one place you want to visit more than others?
I’m traveling to Aruba in September and am really looking forward to seeing the natural beauty as well as the “hidden gems”. The one place that I really want to visit is Iceland, for its natural beauty, it seems that there is no other place like it in the world and I hope to plan that trip soon.
What has been your favorite place you’ve visited so far?
My favorite place I have ever been is Dubai, the city itself just blew me away! Everything from the architecture and modern technologies all the way to Old Dubai where I was able to embrace the culture and history! Two completely different worlds just a half hour away from each other.
Dive into beautiful oceans, get lost in the streets of NYC and watch the sunset in the Maldives on his Instagram page @witness! We guarantee it will make you grab your own camera and hit the road!
Photo by Mike Mattera aka Witness