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

5 Unique & Incredible Wedding Photographers in Philly

Jay Cassario

Very honored to have Twisted Oaks Studio get named as one of the 5 most unique and incredible wedding photography studios in Philadelphia. I couldn’t be happier to see the studio really starting to be recognized over this past year. We are still only in our 3rd year as a multi-photographer studio under the name Twisted Oaks with an extremely talented team of associate photographers. I couldn’t be more proud of what my wife and I have built and the team that we have built around us. Click on the photo to see the article!

Acadia Family Adventures 2018

Jay Cassario

I started vacationing up in Maine, right outside of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, ever since I think I was able to drive. A good friend and his family have a house on a lake up in Ellsworth and once they offered the house to us once, it became a family tradition. I started dating my wife Sandi when I was 19 and I took her up with me a year after we started dating. We traveled up there just about every year after, skipping a year here and there, but not many. In 2016, after 7 long years of struggling with infertility, Sandi was 8 months pregnant with our son when we decided to head up again before having him.

That year, which was 3 years after my Mom passed, we drove out to a tree that she had always taken pictures of. It’s a tree that sits all alone in a wide open wild blueberry field. It’s the most picturesque looking scene I think I’ve ever seen. There was always something special about that tree for me, and I wanted to give it an even more important meaning in my life… in my family’s life. I took a few maternity photos of Sandi at the tree that year and had the idea of going back to take a new photo every couple years of the two of them. This year, 2018, my son Luke turned 4 while we were up in Maine. I will admit, we had a busy year and were originally not going to go, but it was because of this one single photo that I decided to make the drive anyways. Luke turns four today, September 30th, but we celebrated his 4th birthday while we were up there with him. On Wednesday, we drove out to the tree and I was able to get the shot of Sandi and Luke together. You can see all three shots below. Not only did Luke get bigger with each photo, but so did the tree, interestingly enough.

 
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We had a great week and stayed at a new place right in Acadia this year, just to switch things up a little. Having been two years since Luke had last been there, it was pretty neat to see just how different this trip was for him. Much better on his feet compared to the last time, he was a lot more adventurous and if anything I had to constantly keep my eye on him as he had no fear. Both Sandi and I bring our cameras with us no matter where we go when we’re up there. We also make it a point to only have them out for short periods of time. Each and every year while I’m there, I tell myself to put the camera down. Each and every year once I get back home and see the edited photos in a gallery, I tell myself I should have taken more.

2016 Adventures

Thought Process - Creative Compositions

Jay Cassario

An SLR Lounge article giving some insight to 10 wedding photographers, including myself, and our thought process that goes into creating compositions. Basically, what is going through our heads before we even think about clicking the shutter. It’s a great article with some great advice with all 10 photographers offering a different perspective. Click on the image to read the entire article.

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The iForway PowerElf - Review

Jay Cassario

 
 

INTRO

Five years ago, I started reviewing camera gear for SLR Lounge. A couple of years later, they decided to focus more on education so I began writing them here. Since my real and honest approach to reviewing products/gear seemed to click with photographers, I've done my best to keep up with them as best I could. The problem with running a multi-photographer studio that photographs upwards of 150 weddings per year, plus teaching/speaking for Leica as an ambassador, my time is spread pretty thin. I've never wanted to just throw a review together for the sake of getting something fresh up on my site. They can be very time consuming when you take into account all the time needed to properly test anything that I review. Testing takes time, especially when I do my best to test products on real shoots and in real life scenarios. It's the only way to make sure I'm providing accurate information. Otherwise, what's the point? There's plenty of other reviews out there that are done half assed. 

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I typically only review products/gear that I'm personally interested in using myself, with a few one-offs here and there. Over the past couple of years as traffic to this site has grown, so have the requests from companies asking me to review their new products. While some of them are tempting, it takes a lot to make it worth my time. 

A couple months ago, I randomly checked my spam folder and found a review request email from a company named MP MeltMall. The product was described as the safest outdoor mini power station called the Iforway PowerElf. Nope, I'm good.

I have a small portable power pack that I use for travel and charging my iphone/iPad already and it does a decent job. A month went past and while going through my email decided to give it another look before hitting delete. This time it had my attention. I actually read the product description this time and was blown away by what it allegedly could do. Now, I was all about testing this beast of a power pack out and quickly replied back asking if they were still interested in sending me one.

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What is the PowerElf?

Basically, if you've seen the 2017 move the Justice League, you can picture the PowerElf as one of the Mother Boxes. If you haven't seen the movie, these boxes individually hold enough power to bring Superman back from the dead. Not only that, but afterwards, still maintaining enough juice to charge your iPhone so you don't miss a single selfie with him. The PowerElf even has a LED light on it, beat that DC Comics.

 
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The PowerElf is pretty damn impressive, comic book references aside. It really is the ultimate, supercharged, portable power supply. At least as far as what I have seen out there, and I've purchased a couple of them that can't do a quarter of what the PowerElf is capable of. While you won't be able to carry it around in your pocket, it's still one sleek looking lightweight product weighing less than 3lbs. For the techies out there, just seeing 173Wh / 46800mAh should be enough to impress you. Especially, when you consider the $129 you can get it for during the remainder of the campaign. If you want something to carry in your purse or pocket to charge your iPhone in an emergency, that's not what this is. This is made to charge your iPhone, your laptop, your tablet while not even having to worry about recharging it. It will still be have plenty of juice left over.

[ALL THE SPECS & MORE TECHNICAL INFO]

While I primarily tested this from a photographer's perspective, I've been pretty much bringing it everywhere with me. Even though it doesn't fit in my pocket, I fits perfectly in my camera bag. Plus, even though it's larger, it's not much heavier than the smaller RavPower supply that I've been using for the past year. 

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WHAT I LIKE 

The specs on the PowerElf are beyond impressive, so right out of the box I wanted to put it through its paces and test it as best I could. My main complaint with the majority of portable power supplies are that they have just about enough juice to fully recharge my Macbook Pro. If they can, they've completely blown their load with nothing left over to charge anything else. The PowerElf claimed to have the ability to fully power an iPhone 16 times, a Macbook 3 times, an iPad 4 times, and they list a few others. After fully charging up the PowerElf, I plugged in my dead IphoneX via one of the two USB ports, my Leica M10 battery via the 12v DC cigarette port, and my completely dead Macbook Pro via the USB-C port. I let it get to work and went about my day. Not keeping track of how long it took, I was surprised to see that everything was fully charged. Even more surprised to see that there was still juice left over. 

 
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It's waterproof, has an LED light on the front that has already come in handy a few times, and has a very reliable and quick way of checking how much power it still has. I love that it has a USB-C port since I have a 2017 MBP along with a few other devices that use type-C. One thing that I've noticed can tend to happen with a lot of portable power supplies is that if you let them sit around, they slowly lose power and need to be charged. I let the PowerElf sit for over a week and it still had a full charge when I checked. So far, I've honestly found no flaws to even bring up. 

 LED Light

LED Light

 Quick press of the power button reveals how much power is left using 4 blue LED lights

Quick press of the power button reveals how much power is left using 4 blue LED lights

WHAT I DON'T LIKE

I can honestly say that there really isn't much that I have to say here. I've tried to beat it up pretty good, and it's still looking pretty much brand new. I have seen other reviews that report the rubber cap breaking off, but to be honest, it might be a better design if it wasn't attached. Then again, I would more than likely lose it in a week and have to buy a 10-pack to keep at the studio. The only real downside I see right now is with the 12v cigarette lighter port. While I do have a couple Leica battery chargers that are capable of charging via that port, most need a two prong AC plug. Because of this, straight out of the box, you may not be able to charge your camera batteries, or your MBP if it isn't 2016 or newer which uses the USB-C port. I would like to see them implement this somehow in the next model, but until then, the fix is quite easy and not expensive. There are several adapters on the market, this is one that I already have and it works great - Foval 150W Power Adapter. Just $17 from Amazon. 

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CONCLUSION

The bottom line here is that I wouldn't have taken the time to test and review this product if I wasn't impressed by what it had to offer. I'll fully admit that I was skeptical that it would be able to live up to the marketing hype and specs it boasted in its portfolio. I was more than pleasantly surprised. Outside of photography gear, it's rare that I suggest a product as highly as I am with this one, but for $150 it's a no brainer. The amount of trouble this little black box can potentially get you out of when you least expect it is worth far more than $150 in my book. 

There's 5 days left in the INDIEGOGO iForway campaign where you can get one shipped out to you by backing them at the even lower price of $129, back the campaign for $249 and get two of them. Use this link to check it out: https://igg.me/at/iforway-powerelf/x/19272041

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As always thanks for reading, please leave a comment with any questions or feedback below. If you're interested in seeing my wedding work, please head on over to TWISTED OAKS STUDIO. Next up will hopefully be the Leica 50mm Summilux comparison which I'm still working on. 

New Workshop Announcement

Jay Cassario

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WEDDING WORKSHOP