Left: Armani Exchange Dress, $110, armaniexchange.com; Superga Cotu Sneaker, $65, nordstrom.com. Right: Janessa Leone Quatre Hat, $285, janessaleone.com; Armani Exchange Sunglasses, $75, armaniexchange.com; Blouse, Michaela’s own
Using natural light is one of her most easy-to-apply tips, though be thoughtful about the time of day you’re going out. Wissen tends to spend the mornings at home with Harper and their three dogs, venturing out post-lunch. “It’s really hard to shoot midday because I like it to be a little softer. Afternoon golden hour I love, just a couple of hours before the sun sets. That’s when you can get really good back lighting.”
Armani Exchange Dress, $110, armaniexchange.com; Janessa Leone Quatre Hat, $285, janessaleone.com; Armani Exchange Watch, $180, armaniexchange.com; Armani Exchange Sunglasses, $75, armaniexchange.com; Blouse, Michaela’s own
From there, she launches into a mini master class on lens flare. “It’s like a little rainbow of light, and I love it. It happens when you’re shooting a person and the sun is behind their head, maybe peeking out a little behind either side. It creates a little flare,” she explains. “I’m always aware of where the sun is positioned and will keep moving around to catch the best light. When you move you see where the light comes out” from behind whatever object you’re focusing on.
When it comes to what you’re shooting, Wissen says not to force yourself toward the currently trending Instagram aesthetics. “I see all these accounts where people do clean, white stuff. It’s so popular right now. People will go to a market and shoot fruit. It’s everywhere on Instagram.” Instead, she prefers to shoot people, objects from her real life, and bright colors. “Right now I like a lot of green. I love shooting against blue sky; it’s just really easy.” If you’re throwing down a pair of shoes or a bag, hoping for a faux-casual effect, style it. “I’ll throw it down and fix it so it looks like I just threw it down, kind of effortlessly. In this example, I wanted people to see the tag since it felt like, naturally, someone wouldn’t have wanted you to see it.” (The too-contrived way would have meant tucking away anything that hints at the real world).
And of course, when it comes time to edit, she suggests taking a ton of photos and weeding through them right away. “If you’re taking something in the moment, you want to convey that feeling you felt.” When she’s using her phone, not a proper camera, she averages 100 snaps for one image. “My best advice is to take a bunch of different photos from a bunch of different angles so you can figure out what you like. Then you can delete.” With Instagram shots as her bread-and-butter, Wissen tries to shoot with a proper camera, not her phone, and will edit on the computer. For amateur snappers, she suggests utilizing the burst mode function when capturing moving objects (like pets) and iPhone’s new portrait setting for a professional-looking focus. Find a filter you love too and stick with it: She only uses two in order to keep consistency on her feed.
Armani Exchange Sunglasses, $75, armaniexchange.com; Basket and bandana, Michaela’s own
Style Director: India-Jewel Jackson; Art Director: Rebecca Kimmons; Stylist: Henna Koskinen; Hair & Makeup: Elena Perdikomati