In our business, we’re privileged to have worked with a ton of amazing photographers, and over the past year or two, Michelle VanTine has become one of our favorites! Her images are so distinctive and stylish, and it doesn’t hurt that she’s so funny and SUPER nice too! Today, Michelle’s filling in our readers on how she got her start, what makes her (and her fabulous photographer Pablo) stand out in the industry, and much more!
How did you get started in the wedding business? I went to College in Orlando, Florida for Art Education. I took all the Fine Arts classes such as sculpture, ceramics, painting, and one of my favorites: film photography. I loved spending hours in the dark room, developing prints the good old fashioned way. I spent the next 5 years teaching art, and did wedding photography on the side. In 2005 when I had my daughter, I pursued wedding photography full time.
What do you do when you are not working? Changing diapers! Ha ha! Only for a few more months! I have a 5 and almost 2 year old who keep me very busy. I work out a lot, and love having “pinot and painting” nights with my girlfriends. And of course, hanging out with my best friend– hubby Jarrett!
How would you describe your approach to weddings? For me, wedding photography is my art form. Some of my art school colleagues paint, or do graphic design, I take pictures. I have to. It just is the way that I experience things. My husband sometimes tells me to put my camera away and just enjoy the moment, but for me when something is so beautiful and fleeting, I feel the need to capture it. I love giving my couples that gift. I want them to enjoy their love, their big day, and I just capture the tears, the laughter, and the beauty of each couple.
What inspires you in your work? Sometimes I’ll come home from a wedding, and even if it’s in the middle of the night, and I’ll just scroll through all the pictures of the night. I just love seeing all those special moments captured in a split second of the moment. And sometimes when I’ve been editing for several hours, I’ll suddenly realize that my jaw is getting sore! I realize it’s because I’ve been smiling so much from the pictures I got, and I’m really happy!
What do you find the most rewarding about your job? Getting feedback from my clients when the job is done. When you’re the bride there’s SO much that you miss. Friends laughing over cocktails, mothers crying during the ceremony, the groom secretly admiring his bride across the dance floor. To be able to capture the whole of the day and give it to clients in a gorgeous album that will last for generations is a real honor for me. The joy it brings my clients is very rewarding.
What’s the one thing you wish everyone knew about you or your business? That it’s not “a business” for me. It’s an art form. I, personally only take 2 weddings a month. I’m not out to conquer the world or shoot every weekend. I could, but I just don’t want to. It’s like in college, for art school, you had to turn in a painting every week, a sculpture every week, a ceramic piece every week. Sometimes you just don’t have that many ideas or creativity in you. I turn down A LOT of weddings (or give them to my AMAZING sidekick Pablo) because I like to fully invest myself in each of my weddings as if it were a masterpiece painting. I think that’s also why I’ve been able to thrive in the industry for almost 10 years when people often burn out between year 5 and 7.
What do you think sets you apart from other photographers? My work. It’s creative – it’s me. There’s only one me, and you can almost always recognize one of my shots. Colorful, vibrant, full of life, interesting compositions… or at least I like to think so!
Do you usually work by yourself or do you have a team you work with? I have a handful of talented photographers that we use to second shoot, but mostly my right hand man is Pablo DeLoy. I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out how I am lucky enough to have him on my team. He’s shot such prestigious projects like Jose Andres’ cookbook Made in Spain and had his work featured in LA Times and Washington Post. He has a degree in Photography AND in graphic design, from Uruguay and Italy. He’s insanely talented and keeps me from getting overly stressed out with his fun personality. He’s been a HUGE asset to the business, and the brides love working with him.
What do you love about weddings? The people. Being part of a couple celebrating that they found the person that they want to spend the rest of their lives with. The emotion and joy. It’s a very special thing, and I’m honored to be part of it.
What do you hate about weddings? Hahaha… errrr. It’s hard when I see brides a total stress case on their wedding day. It doesn’t happen that often, but every few weddings, it does. They’ve spent so much time planning their décor, seating, hair, makeup… it can become more about the production. When a person is stressed out, it doesn’t matter how much your camera cost you, how good you are at Photoshop, or how creative you are… you can’t hide it. I always encourage girls to decide the day before the wedding to stop all planning and just enjoy the day.
What is the coolest thing you’ve ever seen at a wedding? At one wedding I shot, the guests on the dance floor were putting the bride and groom in chairs, and tossing them high above the crowd. They tossed this gorgeous, petite, size 0 bride so high that they knocked down this ENORMOUS chandelier! Thankfully the chandelier was caught before it crashed on the floor! It was really hilarious to watch and photograph.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give to couples planning a wedding? Choose the vendors for your wedding not just based on their portfolio, but based on their personality. Once you hire a vendor for your wedding, you typically have to work with them for 6 -12 months, and still like them on the most important day of your life! You want someone that you can connect with, and that you think understands you both as a couple.
Who is your favorite artist or band? Haha. Impossible question. Currently, Michelle Armas is my favorite painter, and “Gym Class Heroes” help me through my ‘Insanity’ workouts.
What is the worst song of all time? If I have to hear that stupid “Blurred Lines” one more time, I’m going to throw up. Also anything that sings about barbeque stains and white t-shirts.
Open mic, final thoughts: I’ve really enjoyed working with several of your staff from MyDeejay. I worked with 4 of them in the last year or so, and they always do a tremendous job. I especially remember Devin Alexander bringing down the house at a Riverside wedding we were both on at Indigo Landing. They always do a great job not only keeping the crowd sweating, but also communicating with all the vendors so we’re all on the same page. I hope to have many more weddings to come with you all in 2014.