As I creep up to the 6 year mark since photographing my first wedding, which I charged $500 for, a lot has changed. I can honestly say that even though so much has changed in my life and career since that point, it feels like I blinked and here I am.
I’m the owner of Twisted Oaks Studio, a multi-photographer studio based out of New Jersey that I run with my wife Sandi. We made the change shortly after my first Shotkit profile went up and haven’t looked back. We now shoot over 120 weddings per year and show no signs of slowing down.
After my first Shotkit profile went up, I quickly became known as one of the photographers who needed a ton of gear, to be honest, at the time I did. I could never find a system that simply felt like it could do everything I needed.
I shot Nikon for their strengths, Canon for their strengths, and I had purchased my first Leica digital rangefinder. That single purchase, which started as a loaner from a rental company to review changed all of that.
I bought the Leica M9 and 50mm f/1.4 Summilux ASPH and while it was far from perfect, it changed me as a photographer. It taught me to see differently, shoot differently, and ultimately how to slow down and really focus on more than just what I would see through the viewfinder of a DSLR.
I fell in love with the M9, but it wasn’t a camera I could use for much more than portraits during the wedding day. I upgraded to the M(type240) not long after and that was a little more advanced in tech with live view and much better DR/ISO.
I began using it more and more which eventually led to Leica Camera USA noticing my work. I spent a couple years working with them on different small projects and even pre-testing new cameras. One of which was the Leica SL, the mirrorless camera body that couldn’t have come at a better time.
The only other full-frame mirrorless cameras on the market were made by Sony. I had shot with a Sony for a few months and while they’re all nice cameras they simply never did it for me. They felt like mini-computers that only made me regret not shooting my M240 instead.
The SL was new to the market, so the native lens selection was slim. It wasn’t quite ready yet so I made the move to shooting all Canon gear besides my M240 and the Contax 645.
Fast forward to about 2 years ago and with new lenses and impressive firmware updates, I found myself trying the SL again. A few months later I made the move to a full Leica setup with dual SL’s and the M10 with a mix of lenses for both.
With a lack of presence in the wedding industry, I was presented with the opportunity to come on board with Leica as a Brand Ambassador. I’ve been working with them ever since, and it’s been nothing short of what you would expect when the camera company you finally decide to settle on after 6 years, asks you to represent them.
I mostly use drones for personal projects and capturing BTS videos for workshops. I bring them on the occasional wedding strictly for Bride and Groom portraits or engagement shoots. I mostly only do it if I know it’s something the clients are into.
I purchased the original Mavic Pro and loved it. When the Mavic Air came out I was asked to test it a little early which made me really like it.
While I prefer the Pro over the Air it’s mostly because of the size. I don’t like losing sight of it so quickly which is why I prefer the larger Pro. I’ve thought of trading them both in for the newer Pro 2 with the better camera, but I simply don’t use them enough to justify it.
Every single piece of gear I own gets used, but it would be my drones that get used the least. In saying that, I do like having them for when the opportunity comes up.
Twisted Oaks is still my priority, and I easily put in 40-50 hours a week even during the off-season handling the marketing side of the company among many things. Along with running the studio, I work with Leica on a number of projects per year teaching for their Akadamie, and trying to spend as much time with my family as possible.
Compared to the amount of gear I used to shoot with I would say that my bag has gotten a lot lighter. I typically shoot with dual SL bodies, the 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-SL on one and either the 24-90mm or 75mm f/2 Summicron-SL on the other. The only other body I bring is my M10-P which typically has the 24mm f/1.4 Summilux ASPH attached to it.
Another change worth noting, to close this out, is that I started reading more. I’m on my 2nd time through one of my favourite books I’ve read to date, The War of Art. Highly recommend.
www.twistedoaksstudio.com | @twistedoaksstudio | www.jaycassario.com | @jaycassario
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Thanks for the update! Pretty cool being able to compare my current setup to the one I submitted in 2015.
Awesome, great read!
Jay, i enjoyed your kit. i would to know how do you compare the Canon 50L to the Nikon 58 ? since i switched to nikon, i have still to find a 50mm that i like…
Great bit of kit jay. Your Leica will be safe in that Rhinoceros protected casing!
Awesome work Deirdre! Just checked out your website, keep it up!
Hey from South Jersey! I’m in Bordentown, love your work and happy to see NJ being represented!
I have been shooting weddings with all the systems I own for the past several years, especially Nikon and Canon. They are tools to me, so I use them differently depending on what I’m looking to accomplish or what I want the final image to look like. Nikon is much much better in low light and I prefer Nikon’s image quality overall to Canon. However, Canon colors are slightly more pleasing and I love a few of their lenses. The 50L is an awesome lens, one that is very different than anything Nikon offers. I love the flare that it produces, while Nikon lenses have multilayer lens coating to prevent lens flare. So, with that being said, if it is sunny out I will usually grab my 5D Mark3 and the 50L or 24L. If my client likes the flare look, I will use the 50L alongside of my Leica M9 and 50 Summilux, both setups give a very artistic and creative flare when done right. As soon as the sun goes down or indoors, I always grab my Nikon bodies. I will also use different setups purposely to push my creativity, where I will only bring 2 different camera/lens combos.
The quick answer to your question…I decide which to use by what the lighting is like and what the client’s taste is or what they request.
Great question, and one that I get a lot.
Do you shoot weddings with both Canon and Nikon? And if so, how do you decide when to use the different camera types?
Brad, there is a difference in color profiles but I simply take one photo from each camera and match them up as best I can and get their WB to be as close as possible then sync the rest of them. It’s actually pretty easy and not as bad as everyone would think.
How do you find editing three different file types? Is there much difference in the colour profiles between the camera brands?
Dear Mr. Cassario,
Your perspective is greatly appreciated. My bride and our youngest daughter embarked on an enterprise in 2006. My good fortune – being included – has allowed amateur photography to become an avocation. The study of composition, exposure and lighting interiors with speed lights is pretty fulfilling. What you shared about your df and 750 is applicable in the selection of a ‘processor’ that will accommodate our lenses and Julie and Leigh’s needs on behalf of their clients.
This is just to say thank you.
On behalf of Julie,
John Barnett – strictly amateur photography
I also carry a deer skull in my wedding kit. It’s a statement.