13. Februar 2020
We read about Micha Wissen that she “is like a cool breeze on a hot summer day”. When we met her for the “White Cube Art Project” in Copenhagen, it felt just like that – though it was raining cats and dogs. She is so natural and in the moment, like her photographs. A true observer who captures genuine moments in her pictures, mastering natural light as a prime element. She prefers to shoot analogue, taking her time to carefully create her images, and has perfected a magic that makes something incidental feel special and worthy to look at. „It’s usually not the stuff you plan out. When I do a shoot, I will think of a location, but not plan too much. Just go with it—the best shots come totally in the moment.”
Born in Sweden but raised in both Connecticut and Stockholm, Michaela Wissen has spent the last decade in Los Angeles & New York. She is self-taught, starting her career as a concert photographer in Sweden aged 18. After moving to LA at 20, she started a blog with friends. “We’d throw a bunch of clothes in our car, drive around, and shoot each other. I actually never wanted to be a photographer—it just sort of happened.“
Meanwhile, most of the time she and her fiancé Riley, who shares her interest in photography, live as urban nomads exploring photogenic places around the world, the camera as constant companion. For us, she gave up her own camera to pose for Mike Meyer, and while dancing in the rain, we had a few more questions for her:
You are an observer. What captures you?
New people and places. I am intrigued by situations that are unfamiliar to me yet familiar for the subject. I love photographing people doing things in their natural place.
What does it feel like, when you are inspired by everything? Do you sometimes need a white wall to calm down?
I love that feeling. I love feeling inspired. For me, that is when Im at my absolute best! I think I need a white cube to perhaps make me inspired and open my senses when Im not feeling like I am.
You take analogue pictures, so you cannot change anything in the image once it is taken. What is the magic of analogue photography to you?
With social media and things happening so incredibly fast, I really appreciate the slow motion of shooting analogue. You only have 36 photos to take, so you do not over shoot. I really take into consideration what Im photographing. I always get the best outcome from my analogue photos.
Is there a visual in your mind that you cannot let go of currently?
Can you reveal something unexpected about yourself?
Something that many people might not know is that I write classical piano, and my dream is to become a film score musician. Besides that, I have a very hard time sitting still. After about an hour, I need to move.
Is there a funny story about you that you would share with us?
When I moved to LA the first time at the age of 20 I was going to rent a car. I had just gotten my driver’s license one month before and was very nervous to drive in LA. I had landed at midnight alone and was going to the car rental place. I know absolutely nothing about cars, so when the car rental receptionist asked me what I wanted I said I did not know. He named BMW, Volvo, and Minivan. And I immediately said “ah, a minivan (thinking it was a Mini Cooper…)”. He showed me the car (after I had paid) and it was a huge bus!
I was so embarrassed so I just went with it and pretended it was what I wanted. As soon as I got on the freeway, a police car pointed its headlights at my car and put its sirens on. I was so scared and nervous because I had never been pulled over before and honestly barely new how to drive. The police officer walked up to the car and I was bursting in tears. I told him I had just rented this car and was lost, he told me to just turn my lights on and then he had me follow him all the way, to where I was staying. Very stressful night. I then had to drive this car in LA for four months. At least I could fit all my friends and move furniture.
How did you feel in the White Cube?
I came into the white cube filled with stress from running between fashion shows all day, but as soon as I stepped in, I had a calm, enlightening feeling. It was as if my stress simply washed away. The light space filled me with excitement and inspiration.
What makes your heart beat faster?
Music. Music can really make me feel all the emotions. Nothing is better than crying to an emotional song, or dancing to an upbeat tune.
What do you love?
Nature, traveling, experiencing new things, meeting new people, photographing, playing piano and being with close friends and family.
What do you hate?
I do not really hate much, to be honest. I try to see the good in everything and everyone.
However, I dislike it when people are disloyal and unkind. That can make me angry.
What can‘t you live without?
My family, friends and dog.
What is your favorite piece in your home? What would you save in case of fire?
Of course my beloved dog, Willow. And some beautiful ceramic animals my grandmother made. I have them all over my home.
What exactly did she make?
My grandmother Lillemor Mannerheim made ceramics her whole life. She was super dedicated and talented, but it was very difficult for female artists to get recognition at that time. She passed away in the 90s. Now my mother made a book about her, and she has finally gotten the recognition she deserves for her incredible work.
She made many different series, but my favorite was the one she made for WWF. It consisted of all different types of ceramic animals, and the money she sold the animals for went to WWF.
What makes you smile?
Experiencing a new place for the first time.
What makes you cry?
What are you afraid of?
Not following my heart.
What is typically Micha?
Going the extra mile to make sure everyone is happy.
On your Instagram, you wrote something very beautiful about your relationship:
“This is us. Our story is unique and complicatedly beautiful. Countless travels, endless countries and so many unforgettable experiences. You keep me grounded, sane and inspired. You push me, love me and help me see the beauty in everything. How insanely lucky am I to have stumbled upon you in Venice 6 years ago.“
Can you elaborate a bit more on that, what makes the two of you so special, life on the road, creative exchange?
I think it is unique to meet someone, who is so far away from where you come from and the life you have lived, and to still have such a connection. We have had a long distance relationship for five years, but still been able to stay together. We inspire each other every day and we share the same passions in life, which for me is so special. He pushes me to be creative, and never laughs at my silly ideas. We have very different eyes, whenever we are booth shooting something, we see it completely differently, which always is eye opening to me. We love learning from each other.