With more than 200,000 followers, and a client list that includes the Erindi Private Game Reserve, Sennheiser Electronics, Charity: Water, and TAYLRD clothing, photographer Misha Wilcockson is passionate about travel, adventure, and sustainability — three qualities he helps clients convey to a global audience.
Today, he manages the popular Instagram Publisher page Traveler, with an audience that includes celebrities like Jace Norman and Caroline Calloway, along with Olympians Danell Leyva and Meryl Davis.
Misha likes to say he was born with a camera in his hand. Raised in London by a mother who worked as a documentary filmmaker for the BBC, he has spent most of his life traveling the globe, traversing the Himalayas, documenting dangerous wildlife up-close, and living on three different continents.
We sat down with Misha to pick his brain about where things are headed in the advertising space:
How would you characterize your audience?
They’re predominantly female and highly-engaged. They love variety: anything from animal portraits to epic landscapes. They are young and similar minded to me: they just want to travel. Traveler gives them a place to see beauty in the world and plan their next trip away all at the same time.
What is it that makes your page special? Why does your audience follow you?
The people who follow it! Every day I get hundreds of direct messages from people asking questions about the content I share. The variety of imagery also means things don’t ever feel repetitive. I am always seeking out and sharing the work of up-and-coming photography talent. Having worked with several conservation funds and NGOs, I feel like the page does more than just give wanderlust – it gives back to the community and to the world.
Is there a secret to producing engaging content?
Vibrant colors and unique composition are the best way to catch the eye. One or the other is usually enough, but if you have both then you are onto a winner. Meaningful stories behind images also go a long way: one thing we noticed when working with a game reserve in Namibia was, the more our audience knew about the animals and the conservation efforts behind the images, the more they were likely to engage.
What’s the biggest mistake you see brands/advertisers make when they’re trying to reach people on Instagram?
The biggest mistake I see is not telling people the whole story. If a brand shares a feed post, the caption is the most important thing. If it’s a story, it’s the overlaid text. But often a feed post needs an accompanying story and a story needs an accompanying feed post. Using all of the different modes Instagram offers is key to reaching a target audience.
Why is Instagram is the best place to create these experiences? Why not Youtube, Facebook, or Snapchat?
Instagram offers a more unique and artistic method for sharing images and video than any other social media platform. The simplicity and beauty of the app makes it more of a high quality hub than apps like Snapchat. The different modes of distributing content (feed images, stories, highlights) give it more variety than Youtube. Built-in features like product tagging and story swipe ups mean that working with brands has never been easier: users are often no more than a couple of clicks away from making a purchase.
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you on a shoot?
During a shoot in Namibia we decided to try to find a pride of lions who had a four month old cub. We heard them even before we could see them. A lion’s growl will touch your very core. It will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and heart beat and double speed. And when they show their teeth at the same time, there’s no amount of movie thrillers that can prepare you for it. Still, as they started to settle down a bit, I felt myself relax a little. I started taking photographs again, trying to capture the beauty of the little cub. A cub whose pupils were so big you couldn’t even see the whites of his eyes.
Then, seemingly out of the blue, they started growling again and bolted up. As the mother of the cub started to charge at us, so came the other female. We had parked the car with the side facing them so that I could take photos, but I now felt more vulnerable than ever. I put my camera down and recoiled as far back into the doorless open-top car as I could. They stopped just a couple of meters away from me, showing their teeth and their muscles as they did so.
The lionesses at Erindi (the game reserve I was shooting for) are the largest in Africa, and the two who had just charged me were the largest on the reserve. Just for a second, it was as though I’d stepped back a few thousand years. Soon after that, we decided it was probably best to leave them be. It took a good two hours for my heart rate to go back to normal.
Yikes! Well, we’re glad you made it out ok. And the photos look fantastic!
Make sure to follow Misha on Instagram @traveler!