My name is Michelle VanTine and I create scroll-stopping images for amazing brands and amazing people. I went to college for Fine Arts where I discovered film photography in my senior year and instantly fell in love with it.
I shot part-time for four years on the side while teaching art, then I made the daring jump to full-time photography in 2008.
Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of photography adventures, from sports shoots in Hawaii to work with major beauty brands, there’s never been a dull moment in my career.
Main Gear Talk
When I had my first photography class in college, my grandmother gave me her Canon-A1 and it’s been a love affair ever since. In my opinion, no company handles color like Canon.
Color is a major emphasis in my work so it’s a priority for me when considering gear. I find myself in such a wide range of scenarios and lighting situations that it’s important for me to have the tools I need to deliver the work that is consistent with my brand.
Some days I find myself in a pitch-black room with a colored strobe going off, while another day I work in the full midday sun with sprinters racing by.
Having the right tools allows me to deliver great images to my clients no matter what so you can usually find me lugging around my rolling cart with everything that I need.
I have used Canon since day one. I did try Nikon a few years ago, and though it handled low-light situations really well, I just don’t think the colors compared to the Canon.
I recently upgraded to the Canon EOS R5 and it was absolutely worth the investment. The dynamic range is fantastic, the flip screen saves my neck when I’m shooting sports on the ground for the hero angle, the max ISO is so impressive, and it retains that classic Canon color that I love.
I shoot with my Canon 5D Mark IV as my second body.
Canon RF 100mm – possibly my favorite lens in my kit. I use it a lot for production work. It’s so unbelievably sharp and there’s no warping on the edges of the frame like other lenses.
Canon RF 24-70mm – this one I call the “jack of all trades and master of none”. Although it’s not my go-to for anything specific, it’s the first lens I recommend to photographers. It does everything so well. It’s fast it’s sharp and it can shoot wide plus it can zoom in.
I’m never drooling, but I always know it will deliver when I need range and I’m moving fast. I recently upgraded to the RF series for this lens and I noticed a significant difference.
Canon EF 70-200 mm – another favorite that I mostly use for portraits and sports. It’s crisp, fast, and sharp, plus can create nice creamy backgrounds.
Canon RF 16-35mm – I absolutely adore this lens for more editorial work in sports. It’s my go-to for hero shots. I place myself low to the ground and shoot up. The wideness and slight distortion make beautiful larger-than-life imagery.
Canon EF 85mm – If I’m honest, this is probably my least used lens. I bought it for portraits and it does a great job but I’m not wowed by it. I prefer the 70-200mm
As far as strobes, I use Godox as they put out a great amount of light and are more affordable than Profoto.
Godox 600AD BM x 2
Canon Flash 600 EX RTii with MagMog Diffuser
Think Tank Airport Advantage Troley Suitcase
SLIK Pro 700 DX Tripod with 700DX
Hardware & Software
Photoshop and Lightroom for editing.
For my product work to provide effects:
Needle tip dropper
AFMAT Cordless Air Duster
Westcott Optical Spot Kit
For sports work:
Magsphere flash modifier by Magmod
Keto K1000 Rehydration powder to put in my water. This is a clean electrolyte with no sugar, flavors, or food dye. A clean Gatorade if you will.
I was once at a food shoot and after meticulously mounting a three-strobe setup and taking my first shot the chef said, “Wow, that’s incredible! Your camera is amazing!”.
Really? Ninety-nine percent of the time when I get this comment I smile and say something polite but I guess he was the straw that broke the camel’s back and I just hadn’t slept enough to let it slide.
I put on my friendliest smile and replied, “When you bring your food out to your customers, do they compliment you on your frying pans?”.
Ouch, I know, but how could he not see the meticulous setup I had spent the last twenty minutes creating?
Does gear matter? Yes and no. You can have gear that’s in your budget and find creative ways to produce extraordinary work.
When I was getting started determination and creativity filled the gap in my barren gear bag. I made great shots with the little I had. You don’t have to have the latest toys to create great images.
Having said that, if you’re a professional shooting with significant scrutiny on your images and high expectations, having the right gear allows you to be thrown into any situation and deliver the exact work you want.
For me, having great gear makes a significant difference in my ability to deliver the high-level images my clients expect.
For those starting out, don’t sweat it. Invest as you can and focus on your strong suit as a photographer even if it’s not with the latest shiniest toys. As you grow, challenge yourself to tackle strobes, snoots, optical spots, and more.
Make it fun, and always keep growing.
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