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South Jersey wedding photographer Jay Cassario blog. Writer for SLR Lounge and Shotkit.com. 

ONA + Saltfish Surf Co. Collection

Jay Cassario

Last week I drove up to New York and had lunch with my good friends at ONA bags. I usually try to catch up with them every couple months, and we needed to talk about the upcoming Narrows Workshop that they are sponsoring. I've built a really solid relationship with ONA over the past few years and I have a great deal of respect for them as a company. Not only because of the awesome people running the show over there but because they are an industry leading bag company that continues to expand on the artistry of their product line. They are very much involved in the photographer community, getting out and really taking the time to know their clients. Whether it's through hosting or joining in on photo-walks, photographer collaborations, or sponsoring workshops, it's nice to see them making it a priority to get involved. It's companies like ONA that inspire me as not only an entrepreneur but also as a creative. 

While I was there, they introduced me to their newest limited edition collaboration, as well as a few other new products coming down the line soon. Their newest collection is one that I absolutely loved. They took their most popular bag, the Bowery, and merged it with the trademark style of Saltfish Surf Co's surfboard totes. The bags feature textiles designed and woven by a family-owned mill in Oaxaca, Mexico for this project, and they feel exactly like the woven blankets that I have bought every time I've been down to Mexico myself. Having them tell me about their trip down to Mexico to work with Saltfish on these bags, it only made me want one for my myself. Trust me, I don't need another camera bag. If you could only see the collection I have now, I really need to put them all together and take a photo to show them off. I always see other photographers talk about their camera bag collections and it makes me smile and think... you should see what I have stocked away. 

Well, being that there are only 100 of these bags, and I love the ONA Bowery line, I made sure that I went home with one that day. I mean, come on, it's just an early Father's Day gift. So, what am I using it for? Take a look... fits like a glove :)

Newly Designed - Holdfast Money Maker

Jay Cassario

Photo by: Tim Hussey

Photo by: Tim Hussey

I've never been a fan of just shooting with one camera body and having to switch lenses. I don't really care how fast you can swap lenses, it still takes more time than simply lowering one arm and raising the other. That's also one of the reasons I've never been able to shoot with a flagship body like the Nikon D5. I can pretty much shoot with two prime lenses for most of the wedding day, while carrying a small bag with 2 more lenses to rotate in and out if needed. With that being said, I need a good setup for carrying and shooting dual bodies on a long wedding day.

About 2 years ago, both Sandi and I switched over to shooting the Holdfast Money Maker from the dual Spyder holster. We were both tired of having to walk sideways through tight spaces, as wearing the belt made you about 10-12" wider with a camera on each hip. It's a nice system, but there were a few things we didn't love about them. So, onto the Money Maker.

Photo by: Sandi Cassario

Photo by: Sandi Cassario

At first, we loved our Money Makers. Not only were they much better looking than the Spyder system but we preferred the mobility of them as well. We quickly learned though, that the sexy look of the Money Maker had a problem. A very painful problem. Due to the design of the slider, it would pinch the shit out of the skin on our arms as they moved up and down if you were wearing a short-sleeved shirt. It was at this same time that I started to learn a little more about the Holdfast company and the man behind the scenes, Matt Swaggart. A photographer himself, a Leica photographer actually, happened to already be in the process of designing a new slider to help prevent the pinching. I was happy to see that although the product seemed to be kicking ass in the wedding photography circle, he had heard about the pinching and was already hard at work designing possible resolutions. A few weeks later, he sent me out a couple replacement sliders to try and BAM! (In my best Emeril Lagasse voice), no more pinching.

Photo by: Tim Hussey

Photo by: Tim Hussey

I'm a huge advocate of working with companies that not only create and offer awesome products, but are also run by great people who continue to work hard at improving on them. Holdfast is one of those companies. Matt is always creating new products and working hard to improve on the already successul ones, such as the Money Maker. A few weeks ago, he reached out to me and said he had made two impressive upgrades to the Money Maker that he wanted me to try, the first being new buckle design. A new buckle design? I didn't think there was anything wrong with the current one. Well, that's what makes a great company. Matt had made a pretty impressive upgrade to the buckle system, not because of a problem, but simply because he noticed something that could be improved on. The new buckle completely hides all the excess, which you can see the difference between the two in the photos at the bottom of this article. Well done Matt, well done. 

Photo by: Tim Hussey

Photo by: Tim Hussey

The 2nd upgrade is the one that I'm really impressed with, and that's the new leather Matt is using with the Chestnut and Tan Money Makers. Again, there really wasn't an issue with the leather that was being used, but Matt spent over a year working on finding something better. I could immediately tell when I opened the package that the leather was a new, it's thicker and the texture looks slightly different. It's a softer leather which makes it more comfortable to wear and it doesn't have as much memory after wearing it for a full wedding day. If you sweat a lot on a hot day like myself, you know how much the original leather absorbs sweat like a sponge. When it dries, the leather would lose its original shape. This new leather doesn't absorb sweat as easily, and after wearing it for 3 long hot weddings it has kept its original form and looks brand new. 

If you already own and love your Money Maker, I would consider an upgrade to the new leather. If you tried one in the past and didn't like it, I recommend giving Holdfast another chance. If you ordered a Chestnut or Tan leather Money Maker in the past 5-6 weeks, you more than likely received one of the new ones. I will be purchasing a new one for Sandi since hers is almost 2 years old now and I know she will find the new leather much more comfortable. The newly designed Money Maker is pretty impressive upgrade to an already popular product that I have no doubt will make photogs love wearing it even more now. 

Below: The new design next to the original

LEFT: Original Design | RIGHT: New Design

LEFT: Original Design | RIGHT: New Design

New design in the middle

New design in the middle

New design on the left

New design on the left

New design on the left

New design on the left

Leica M10 + Noctilux Wedding Photos

Jay Cassario

A couple weeks ago, Leica sent me out their 50mm Noctilux f/0.95 to shoot on the M10. I brought it along to a big farm wedding out in Pennsylvania where I shot over 2000 images with it throughout the day. All shot wide open, the way this lens was designed to be shot. I’ve shot the Noctilux a few times now over the past couple years, but this was the first time on the M10. While I do love shooting it, and while it did create some of my favorite photos that I took at the wedding, I still prefer my 50mm Summilux ASPH. The Summilux is smaller, lighter, and have always preferred the way that it handles the harsh sunlight for the way that I shoot. 

All of these images were shot with the M10 and Noctilux combo. I've also added the link to this in my M10 review. If interested, you can see the full blog post from this wedding HERE.

Any questions, please leave them in the comments, thanks! 

The Narrows Workshop - Lubec, Maine

Jay Cassario

Australian wedding photographer James Day and I are teaming up to bring the wedding photography community something a little different than the typical workshop or conference. In a mind blowing location, we have so much planned for 3 days that we most likely won't want to leave. It's a 3-night, almost 3-day workshop, with much more included in the price to make it worth every penny. We also have a pretty kick-ass team of sponsors made up of the best businesses in the industry. Leica and Vision Art being two of the big ones that each have something very special planned. There are only 12 spots available, so don't miss out on this. Earlybird price runs until this Friday at 5pm, please don't wait!

Click on the image below to see the full site!

My Son + Batman

Jay Cassario

Today, my 2.5-year-old son Luke was invited to a small birthday party where Batman made an appearance. A very impressive Batman, not the kind you find roaming the streets of NYC looking for tips. Luke was the youngest of all the kids by at least a couple years, so I was really curious how he would react to seeing Batman in person. He just recently started getting into the whole superhero scene, so I was hopeful that he would be excited. Well, it was a pretty interesting first-time confrontation with a superhero. As soon as Batman entered the yard, I had my eyes on Luke watching to make sure he didn't get scared. Well, just like his daddy, his expression didn't really give any kind of indication of what he was thinking. He made sure to keep Batman at a safe distance, eyes locked on him, letting all the other kids run up first. The 10 minutes or so that followed made for quite the show. Not just for me, but for all of the adults at the party watching as the blonde hair and blue eyed little boy gave Batman a run for his money. 

I couldn't help but throw these images into a blog post to show just how this experience went down for Luke. While all the other kids were super excited, you can see how Luke sat back and sized Batman up. At this point, I was still waiting for some kind of facial expression to let me know whether he was scared or excited. I got nothing. Absolutely nothing. 

Batman asked the other kids, all of which had smiles from ear to ear, to go sit in the grass so he could have a talk with them. The other kids quickly ran off to sit down and wait, Luke didn't budge. Instead, he kept his eyes locked on like a laser as if to be questioning the Batman's motives. Now, one on one with the caped crusader, it was time for one of them to make a move. It was Batman, as he offered up a sign of peace and extended his hand for a high-five. With a quick glance over to me, he left the Batman hanging.

Batman walked over to the other kids seated in the grass to start talking to them about why he was there, and what he had planned for them. It was Mason's birthday after all and he was there to train them to be mini-superheroes. What he didn't realize was that there was a little blonde hair and blue-eyed boy named Luke that was going to put his skills to the test. Luke made his way over the group, still showing no emotion what so ever. Again, Luke made sure Batman knew he was there, and started to give him the stare down. I knew that it was only a matter of time until he cracked and let us know what he was feeling.

After a few minutes, you could tell that Batman was doing his best not to be distracted by Luke. This must have been the breaking point, as Luke glanced back at me with a smirk then stepped right up into the Batman's grill. It was obviously go time, and my son was calling out the Batman. You could tell that Batman was a little thrown off, as were all the adults at the party... including myself. What in the world is he doing? What is he thinking?

Face to face with the Batman, Luke still had no expression. I hopped up and walked over to get a closer look at this standoff, and I honestly still had no idea whether he was going start crying or laughing. The only conclusion that I could come to was the same as all the other parents there, and that was that Luke obviously wasn't a fan of this fake Batman. Just as I went to step in and break it up so that the other kids could have fun, Luke did something that no one, including myself was expecting. He opened his arms, stepped up and gave Batman a big hug. No doubt one of the best moments I've had as a parent, and looking at these photos I can't help but laugh. I guess he liked Batman after all.