With Our Brand New Life In Tow - Maternity Shoot

A couple months ago, a friend of mine who just also happens to be a past wedding client and photographer himself, Lance, reached out to me about a shoot idea he had been cooking up. Basically, he wanted to plan a creative shoot to capture a handful of maternity photos for him and his wife Lynne. They’re currently expecting their first child and I could tell right away that he had something pretty original in mind. The last shoot I had planned out with Lance was for his and Lynne’s first anniversary shoot a couple of years ago which also involved some pre-shoot planning.

Engagement Shoot in 2014

Wedding photo from 2015

Knowing that Lynne wouldn’t want a typical maternity shoot, I knew Lance wouldn’t be coming to me unless he had something pretty special in mind. Well, he did, and even though we both almost lost a few toes during the shoot, it came out exactly how he wanted. The shot below is from their first year anniversary shoot, but scroll down to read about the maternity shoot and the meaning behind it. I copied it directly out of his email to show you exactly how he explained his thought process and what he had envisioned for the final product. Of course, once I heard it… I loved it.

 First Year Anniversary Shoot in 2016

First Year Anniversary Shoot in 2016


So for a while Lynne and I have talked about having this shoot inspired by another song from another band we listen to. "Bayside" is the band and the song is titled "landing feet first". 

The lyrics from the verse we are referencing go as follows...

"I've considered what I'd be like 
if the ocean poured in from both of the coasts
And we set sail to find out
Just where our boat would go

But I don't think that I'd want to know
Cuz it would just make time
So I could see your smile
With our brand new life in tow"

Lance explaining how he envisioned the actual shoot going and the look he was interested in pulling off.


The look I’m thinking of isn’t quite “fugitives on the run”, or “post apocalypse” or anything like that. Something with maybe a carney or great depression kind of feel to it. I'd like to pick up some old leather or worn cloth luggage or trunks off of Craigslist/Facebook marketplace for cheap. Have them placed out of focus either next to us, in front of us or the boat, etc that's maybe in frame but not the center of attention.

One shot I kind of rough sketched has me standing waist or mid thigh deep in the water with maybe grey wool pants, suspenders and a wrinkled white/white pinstriped dress shirt with the cuffs rolled  above the elbow holding on to the bow with one hand. The stern of the boat with maybe just alittle side showing is closer to camera than I with Lynne  either sitting across the stern or maybe even out of the boat, to the right, on land still, obviously pregnant. 

I'm attaching a picture of a really rough sketch. 

20181012_224817 (1).jpg

On the day of the shoot, the temperature was in the mid 30’s, easily the coldest day in a long time. While Lance knew he was going to be going in the water, I don’t know why I thought that I was gonna be able to shoot this from standing on the dry land. Within 5 minutes of getting Lynne and the boat in the water, I was up to my knees in what felt like 20 degree river water with my jeans and work boots on. If there was any shoot that I wish I had brought someone along to take BTS shots it would have been this one. I had light stands in the water, braced against trees to keep the water current and wind from knocking them over. Plus, within about 20 minutes of shooting I had just about lost all feeling from my knees down. It was tough to complain though, as Lynne was in a dress being pulled around in a boat with nothing to block her from the elements.

We shot for about an hour before calling it quits, luckily timing the sun just right. I’m really happy with how these came out and I know it was what the two of them had in mind when they first presented the idea to me. While I took the photos, it was Lance and Lynne who brought this idea to life.

The entire shoot was shot with the Leica SL and 50mm f/1.4 Summilux or 75mm APO Summicron. While the sun was coming through pretty bright, I decided to use a couple of AD200’s on light stands in the water to add some fill light. We also lost the sun pretty quickly, so a few of the shots below don’t really have the sun backlighting them. Rather an AD200 with full CTO creating an almost identical look to that of the sun before it went down below the horizon.

Guest Appearance - Get In Focus

Guest appearance on the Jackie Stinsman hosted ‘Get In Focus’ RVN TV Series. This is the full video, from start to finish, just under 30 mins.




  • The Start of Twisted Oaks Studio

  • THE ASSociate Program

This segment covers a little insight into how Twisted Oaks Studio started and how we quickly became successful as a multi-photographer studio.


  • Wedding Albums (Vision Art)

Twisted Oaks is a product based wedding photography studio whose main focus is providing our clients with a beautiful, unique, and custom wedding album that they can't find anywhere else. This short segment is where I talk about just that.


  • Why Leica?

  • Recent Work & How I Shot It

5 Unique & Incredible Wedding Photographers in Philly

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!

Looking Back - Favorite Photos from 2017

For those of you who don't follow my wedding work over at Twisted Oaks Studio, I share blog posts here from time to time. At the end of each year, I put together a collection of some of my favorite wedding/engagement related photos, click on the image below to see the collection from 2017. There's never really any rhyme or reason as to what makes a photo a favorite, but I'm pretty proud of this year's collection. This was a year that I really focused on fine-tuning my style even more, focusing on capturing moments, sitting back and letting things play out in front of me while being less hands-on. Focusing on artistry and composition while anticipating moments proved to be challenging last year, but 2017 was much different as it became much easier the more I pushed myself. You'll also see editorial style photos, where I was completely hands-on and posed the couple exactly the way I wanted them, knowing in my head exactly what I wanted as the final image.  My goal was to provide clients with a mix of both, while still having cohesion and consistency in my style that clients can appreciate and fall in love with. 

Some of the photos in this year's favorites were chosen simply because they have a lot of meaning to them. There could have been something special about the moment when the photo was taken or the process that went into making it. That doesn't necessarily make them a great photo by any means, it's simply great to me. So, don't be surprised if there are photos that aren't all that impressive to you or leave you scratching your head. I think you'll appreciate the collection as a whole, and if you have followed my work for a little while, I think you'll be able to see the changes that this year brought to my style and approach to my wedding photography work. Don't hesitate to leave a comment letting me know your thoughts. 

Thank you!

Cecilia Leather Goods | Camera Strap Review

cecilia camera strap

Good Camera Straps

There are very few things that I hear photographers bitching about more than camera straps, or their struggle to find a good one. I may or may not have been one of those photographers at one point or another. I've tried a good amount of camera straps over the years and never found one that looked good but was also comfortable to wear. I know, I know, the ones with all the little pockets for memory cards and your license are nice and all, but... yes I'm kidding. But Jay, you wrote a review about how much you love your Moneymakers, what are you talking about? The Moneymaker isn't a camera strap, it's a holster, that can also double as part of my cowboy Halloween costume. 

While finding a good camera strap seems to be a popular topic of conversation on message boards and social media, there's far from a shortage of options out there. There's also plenty of photographers out there that I see sporting those fancy manufacturer straps that actually come with the camera. Besides wanting to show off the camera you're shooting with, there really isn't a worse camera strap you could be using. But, there are also no cheaper options out there, so... I get it. 


The Cecilia Camera Straps

I can truthfully say that I haven't had a camera strap stay on one of my cameras for more than a couple weeks since I started shooting 6 years ago. I've tried a good amount of them, just could never quite find one that I liked. Even though I don't really have a desire to use one on any of my DSLR's, my wife does. I typically only shoot my DSLR's at weddings, and my Moneymaker is my go-to for shooting those. My Leica gear is where a good strap would come in handy, and I've struggled to find a good one. I shoot with my Leica M a good amount at weddings and just about all of my personal work, so I've had a good number of camera straps come and go. 

Since I had a destination wedding coming up, I was ready to try again. I remembered reading a review on SLR Lounge by my good friends Andy and Amii Kauth, from Sunshine and Reign Photography, about the Cecilia camera straps that they use. So, with a few weeks before my trip, I decided to give them a try. 


Jay Cassario Leica

After a few weeks of using the Cecilia straps, one for my Leica M10, and another for my wife to use with her 5D MarkIV, I can finally say that I found a camera strap that I like. It not only looks good, but it's also comfortable to wear and durable. It's made of high-quality Argentinean cowhide leather with stitching that can take a beating without having to worry about it coming apart. The thin part of the strap is just the right size so that it doesn't get in my way, with a thicker neck support section that has a small amount of padding to make it comfortable yet not bulky. The opposite side of the leather, on the thicker neck support area also has a good looking wool like texture made from Peruvian alpaca fiber. How do I know all this? I liked the straps so much that I reached out to the owner and had him tell me about the company and how he came up with the design of the straps. Now that I know a little more about the company and know that most of the Cecilia products are handmade... I like them even more. 



The Cecilia Camera straps aren't going to be the most versatile straps on the market, but there are tons of options out there if that is what you're looking for. Black Rapid straps are probably the most popular for those looking for versatility. I personally haven't like those either, but that's just me. The Cecilia strap, however, is an awesome looking and durable leather camera strap that is actually comfortable to wear around your neck. There are many different styles to choose from and different options for different cameras, as you can see from the photos above. After 6 years, this is the longest both my wife and I have had camera straps on our cameras. Not only that, but it's rare that both of us like the same product, so that alone is saying something, ha.

After I fell in love with the their camera straps, I decided to see what else they had to offer. One of the products that the owner had mentioned during our conversation was the full-grain leather laptop skins. I've never put any kind of skin or cover on my Macbook Pro, I've honestly never seen any that I thought really looked all that good. A leather skin? That was more my style. So, I ordered the Montana Cocoa color leather skin and just like the camera straps, that hasn't come off either. It was easy to put on, and just because I was nervous about it coming off, I took it off a few days later. Underneath, there was nothing left behind from the skin, and surprisingly it went right back on with no trouble. 


One of the toughest products to write a review on is a camera strap, for the same reason that it's difficult to review a camera bag. Personal preference along with style and taste can be a big influence in whether or not the reviewer likes a product. I have always tried my best to review products as honestly as I possibly can, while also being sure to explain the reasons why I like or dislike a product. For me personally, the products that I choose to use also have a lot to do with the people that stand behind and represent them. Not only does the Cecilia company make high-quality products that I personally like, but the company is one that I have a good amount of respect for. A big reason for that is they are focused on the photography community and strive to promote the work of photographers while also building relationships with them. If you are looking for a good camera strap, definitely give the Cecilia straps a look.

Thank you!