Jay Cassario

Wedding | Last Updated: January 29, 2021

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 | @twistedoaksstudiowww.jaycassario.com | @jaycassario

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