My name is Jay Cassario, a portrait and wedding photographer from Southern New Jersey. I’m one half of the husband and wife team called Cass Imaging, the half that’s not as pleasing to look at. We’re soon to be Twisted Oaks Studios once a merger is complete with another awesome photographer JD Land. I have an obsession with Skittles, Pinetree scented candles, and my 4 month old mini-me named Luke.
Here is a little peak into the gear I own and choose to shoot with. I have a unique opportunity as a writer for both SLR Lounge and Shotkit to get my hands on pretty much any gear I want, to review and write about, so my bag usually has a nice variety to choose from.
Besides shooting both Nikon and Canon gear for the last few years, which is a little unorthodox, the other thing that often stands out about my gear choices is that little red logo you see. The Leica logo. I was asked to review the Leica M9 and a couple lenses last year, a camera I had never held before, let alone shoot.
At the same time, I was reviewing the Nikon D4S, a camera I had planned on purchasing. Long story short, I ended up sending the D4S back without a 2nd thought, and bought the Leica M9 and haven’t looked back. Shooting with the Leica rangefinder not only made photography fun again for me, but it ultimately made me a better photographer. It gave my work a different look and now a year later I have a good relationship with the company that I have come to love.
To give you a little background, my mother was a wedding photographer who shot all Canon 35mm SLRs and then stayed with them through her transition into digital. My first camera was her hand-me down, which was a Rebel XT. Surprisingly though, my first DSLR purchase was the Nikon D90, and then the Nikon D700.
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In 2012, my mother passed and I started my portrait and wedding photography business with one camera and a couple lenses with my wife. As my business took off, I wanted the best equipment for the job, and I found that it wasn’t always Nikon that had the answer. I found that having a few different options, while keeping my gear to a minimum seemed to work best. I don’t like switching lenses all the time, so I prefer to have a couple bodies with a prime lens attached, with one or 2 more primes in my bag for when the situation calls for it.
I love the Nikon Df and the Nikon D750 for their low-light capabilities, the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 5D Mark II for the awesome Canon colors and skin tones, and the Leica M9 for when I want something a little more unique.
Bottom line, I’ve yet to find a system that is perfect and fits all my needs. Nikon’s colors aren’t quite there for me, and while I love the look of the images my Canon bodies put out, they struggle in low light and are horrible with dynamic range. Leica is simply a joy to shoot, and with my Leica lenses, the images have more character and unique looking lens flare when I want to add something a little more creative to my shots.
I’m looking forward to see what Canon brings us in 2015 with their 5DS and 5DMarkIV, hopefully they make up some ground in the low-light department.
I also have a love for Medium Format film which I satisfy with the Mamiya RZ67. It’s a big brick of a camera, but still produces amazing film images and polaroids that I absolutely love. Here is a breakdown of what is shown in my gear shot…
I also have a slew of lighting equipment, which is also both Nikon and Canon, as well as a bunch of Wescott umbrellas, softboxes, and stands. I love to shoot in natural light, but I also know my way around a good off camera light setup. I have managed to build a system that works for me over the past couple years, which is the most important thing. It’s not the name of the manufacturer that’s important, its what fits your style and gets the job done.
Check out a video interview with Jay here.