I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Mattera a travel and photography social media influencer with over 800,000 Instagram followers.  Mike can be found on Instagram “@Witness”.   Mike is also a co-founder of  “@wonder”  an app which streamlines the entire photo editing process and is launching on the Apple App Store this month.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?I’ve been passionate about photography for as long as I can remember and I have always wanted to travel the world.  After graduating college I decided to purchase my first DSL camera and take a trip to Portugal and Spain.    I was fascinated by the unique beauty of the places I visited and how similar yet uniquely different the people are.   As I started to share my Journey on Instagram I was amazed at the response and decided to further pursue photography as a career rather than just a hobby.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company? The most interesting story was booking a trip to the Maldives during monsoon season, when I was not actually aware of the weather conditions.  Boarding a sea plane in the middle of a horrible thunderstorm is something I will never forget. 

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that? When I purchased my first drone I tried to get video of crashing waves.  As I was watching the video feed, a large wave swallowed the drone. I guess there are a few lessons there.  It was a lesson to always be mindful of my equipment and also that practice and preparation are important.  

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story? I believe that the connection that I share with my followers sets me apart from other travel photographers.   My followers are very passionate about travel and photography and I really appreciate them and make sure to engage with them as well as learn from them as much as possible.   Last year I was taking pictures at the Santa Monica Pier in California when a  teenager and his mom approached me on the beach.  He was a follower that saw that I was on my Instagram that I was at the pier and wanted to come by to meet me.   I spent about an hour with him and his mom talking and shooting photos.  It was a great experience and underscores the positive power that social media can have to bring people that share the same interests together from all over the world.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? First of all, do what you are passionate about.   If you love what you do, it’s not work.  Secondly, continue to push the boundaries and learn.  No matter what point you are at in your career there is always more that you can improve on.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story? I attribute my success to my followers.  They encourage and inspire me every day.  Engaging with & sharing my content constantly is the reason I am where I am today.
I am also grateful to my parents who, after four years of college, supported me when I decided to follow a different path.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? My account is all about aspiration.   I encourage my followers to always follow their passions and that with hard work and commitment they can achieve anything. I also try to give as much insight to both photography and social media to them as I possibly can.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life? My favorite quote is from Steve Jobs  “and most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.”
We are living in an age where technology has broken down barriers and allowed people to achieve their dreams.  If there was ever a time where people should follow their heart and intuition we are living in it.   I took this quote to heart and instead of taking the path expected of me, decided to follow my heart and do what I truly love.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why? Please share a story or example for each.  I honestly can’t think of 5 things.  Generally, I would say that I wish I understood better that there are two sides to a business, the creative side and the business side.   While I enjoy the creative side, the business side is becoming more and more important as I continue down this path of being an influencer.  I do wish I had known how complicated the process of developing brand partnerships & sponsorships would be.  The creative side, for me, came pretty naturally, I simply continued to hone in on my craft and post content that I loved.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement  that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. There are so many unique and beautiful places in the world and the people that live their are unique as well.  However, while we appreciate our differences, it is important to realize that we are all similar in so many ways.  We all share similar hopes, aspirations, struggles and triumphs. I simply think it would be important for people to be able to see that rather than look past it.

How can our readers follow you on social media?
Everyone can find me on instagram! @witness

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


  • Tyler Penske

    Executive Coach

    I am an executive coach | influencer | Traveler