wedding photography

3 Branding Techniques To CRANK Up Album Sales


If you haven’t noticed, I finally spent some time and redesigned this site. It’s been something that I’ve wanted to do for a while now but just didn’t have the time. With a lot of new projects in the works, it was time for a new look with easier navigation. We’ve added a few new staff members to Twisted Oaks studio which ultimately frees up time for me to put back into writing and all other projects outside of the wedding industry. The goal in the new year is to keep a consistent flow of educational articles, Leica related projects, post-processing tutorials, gear reviews, workshop announcements, and yes, finally the release of a Twisted Oaks preset system.



What exactly is branding? What does it mean to rebrand?

If there were one topic of discussion that I feel seems to confuse photographers and creatives more than anything else, it would have to be branding and what it actually means to re-brand. A good yet very basic and simple example would be to think about the McDonalds brand. If they were to rebrand they would not only change their logo, but also the food they serve, the way that they serve it, and more than likely not have a drive through anymore. Many photographers and creatives think of re-branding as a logo and website change, yet it would actually mean so much more than that.

I was able to get a good understanding of branding and the importance of knowing when it’s time to rebrand while working in the corporate world for 15 years. As a photographer, just a couple years into my first company, I re-branded. Just under four years ago, I created an entirely new company with a completely new look, with all new goals, new sales approach, and a completely revamped style of service that we would offer our clients. Yes, we had a new logo designed along with a brand new website which was built from scratch to not only be unique but to make it very easy to see what our new company and brand was all about. One of the most significant changes with the new brand was the switch from a digitally based wedding photography studio to a product based one. What does that mean? I’ll explain, keep reading.


Our first photography studio, Cass Imaging, was a jack of all trades type of studio that was based around charging a flat fee and providing digital images. With the new brand and new company name, Twisted Oaks Studio, we wanted to make it clear that we were primarily now a wedding photography studio. We changed the entire approach to working with our clients and focused on creating an all new experience for them. The biggest change had to do with the end product for our clients. Instead of just handing over digital images on a flash drive and an online gallery, we wanted to educate our clients on the importance of prints and most importantly a big beautiful wedding album. This was a scary move, mostly due to the fact that we would no longer include high-resolution files unless they received an album. So many of our previous wedding clients would ask us for high-res files, how would we get around this? Simple, I would educate them on why they didn’t need high-res files to post on social media. The only thing they would need them for would be prints larger than 8x10 or albums, and I made it very clear that Twisted Oaks offered better products than anything they can buy on their own. Yes, we feared that we would lose business because of this change, but once we made the transition over and it didn’t take very long to see how there was absolutely no pushback from new clients. In fact, the only feeling we were left with was regret. Regret that we hadn’t made this change sooner.

QUESTION: Did you stop giving digital images to clients all together?
ANSWER: No, not at all. Every client still receives digital images. Both online and via a flash drive.

My ultimate goal with the Twisted Oaks brand that I built was to have recently engaged couples know that we were a studio based around providing a one of a kind experience and a wedding album at the end to tell their story, not just digital images to sit on a flash drive somewhere. I built a brand that made albums just as crucial as the creative and artistic photography that we wanted to be known for. In the end, there were three branding techniques that I focused on that just about took the sales out of album sales for us. Within the first two years of starting a completely brand new company, we sold over 80 albums. Before the rebrand, we sold 3.


As most of you know that follow my work, Twisted Oaks Studio is a multi-photographer studio. Not only did we rebrand to a product based wedding photography studio, but we also had much bigger plans on how we wanted to grow. Building a large studio like Twisted Oaks isn’t for everyone but adding associate photographers along with other admin employees was the direction that we wanted to go. Two years into starting our first photography company and basically taking everything from family shoots to headshots, wedding photography quickly took over. We found ourselves faced with a tough decision. We were both still working full-time jobs, and Sandi was pregnant with our son, so we knew we needed to start preparing for the future if we wanted to make this a real career. Less than three years in and a ton of decision making mixed with business coaching, we made the decision to start a brand new studio from scratch. This time with a full game plan of what we wanted to do. We knew where we wanted the business to go, the brand we wanted to build and most importantly the steps we planned on taking to become one of the most successful and popular multi-photographer studios on the East Coast.


These were our main goals when we decided to re-brand. Most importantly, these were ultimately what became the foundation of what the Twisted Oaks brand was built on.

- No longer be known as a “Jack of all trades” studio, focus strictly on wedding photography.

- Convert over to a product based company

- Have album sales become a large part of our income

- Slowly build our two photographers (husband and wife team) into a successful multi-photographer studio

- Create an entirely new experience for our clients, something that we would need to separate ourselves from the other multi-photographer studios in the area.



Before Twisted Oaks Studio, we didn’t have a reliable brand built. It was difficult for potential clients to know exactly who we were or what we were all about. Since we were keeping busy and continuing to grow, it was easy for us to see how a lot of other photographers can fall into this trap. Thinking that the brand they built is working because they are seeing continued growth within the first few years. Luckily for us, we realized that if we wanted to really make a successful career out of photography, we needed to make some significant changes. Looking back on our first studio, just three years ago, it was the perfect test run for us to learn from our mistakes and ultimately give us the ability to see what we needed to change in order to start a new successful studio from the ground up that would have a game plan for years to come.  

We started putting together a game plan long before making the full transition over to Twisted Oaks and to be honest, I could teach an entire three-day workshop on that process alone. We implemented an entirely new marketing strategy, pricing structure, consultation process, sales techniques, and even had mentors to help coach us along the way. All of which played a role in building a new brand, the one that you see today as Twisted Oaks. That was our primary focus, and it’s what has been the most crucial factor in the success that we’ve seen in such a short period. Within a year of making the transition, Twisted Oaks had become the brand that we had envisioned.


Branding can often be the most confusing and misunderstood aspect of being a business owner, especially in the creative industry. Branding is so much more than just a logo and a website re-design. It’s often confused with the style that you have as a photographer. Whether it be your shooting style, editing style, or the look of your website. The more confusing part is that branding and style actually go hand in hand but are also two very different things.

Screen Shot 2018-12-18 at 2.02.43 AM.png

Before starting Twisted Oaks Studio, we had a unique editing style that made it easy for others to distinguish our work from others. We hired someone to help us take that editing style, the overall look, and style of what we wanted our new studio to look like and create a new logo and website. Within a few weeks, we had a whole new look, a particular color palette to our website that matched our editing style, and a design that made it extremely easy and obvious for potential clients to know what the Twisted Oaks brand was all about. To give you an idea of what went into creating the new brand, here are a handful of things that we focused on:

  1. What the studio’s mission is all about

  2. Our photography focus (primarily a wedding based studio)

  3. How we want to make our client’s feel

  4. What experience we offer to our clients

  5. The price in relation to value

  6. What makes us unique

  7. Consistency in our editing style

  8. The style of our photography

  9. The style in which we shoot

  10. The products that we offer and having them match the brand style



Besides the addition of the associate program, the biggest goal for us was to fully convert over to a product based studio. We basically avoided album sales the entire first year that we shot weddings, and it honestly wasn’t tough to do since none of our clients even wanted them. We didn’t even realize we were doing it, but we were attracting clients that had no interest in an album or wall art by advertising ourselves as a fully digital studio that handed over a flash drive and online gallery as a final product. We had ourselves convinced that clients no longer wanted albums. They apparently only wanted high-res digital files, and it was a waste of time trying to sell them a wedding album. We also had ourselves convinced before the re-brand that if we did take away high-res files and create a brand built around albums that no one would hire us. They would go with our competition that offered what we used to. Well, long story short, we were wrong. Very wrong. If you’re in the mood for tacos, you aren’t going to McDonald's. If Taco Bell started offering hamburgers and french fries but only had it on their menu for walk-in customers to see. After months of no one purchasing anything but tacos, it would be easy for them to say that no one likes hamburgers and french fries. Meanwhile, across the street, McDonald's is bumping with the business since that is what they are known for. Not the best analogy, but I’m writing this from a hotel room in San Diego at 1am, and I’m starving. Hopefully, you get my point.





I wanted to make it known to anyone who followed our work or scrolled through our website and social media that albums are a big part of who we are. I wanted to make it so that any potential clients that did their research would see how unique our albums are, how well they fit the brand, and how the majority of other clients are excited to receive their albums once they arrive. Basically, my goal was to make it so I never even had to mention the word albums during initial client consultations, but instead, they ask me about them. For clients that came into the studio for their meetings, they would be surrounded by albums to the point that they would find it difficult to leave without wanting one


The biggest mistake that I see photographers make is not marketing their albums or showing them off as much as possible. It’s not only difficult to find examples of them on their websites, but they don’t post photos of them on social media. Not just photos of the albums themselves, but also photos showing off the excitement of clients getting to see their album for the first time. Ever since I rebranded and made albums a primary focus, showing them off everywhere that we possibly could ultimately created an interest in them for not only new potential clients but past clients as well.


We went from selling a total of 3 albums to 30 in the first year as Twisted Oaks. In 2018, we will have sold more than double that with a good number of clients still in the building process. Today, 9 out of 10 clients request an album in their wedding package rather than waiting until afterwards.



You want your clients to be excited to not only receive their album but start the designing process. We make it, so they play a big part in the designing process and offer them the opportunity to come into the studio to work with us on it in person. We have not only photographed but shot video of clients getting to see their first album design draft as well as receiving their album. These experiences are quite emotional, and anyone that sees them will find it difficult to not experience the same thing for themselves. We have the majority of the albums shipped to the studio first so that we can photograph them and show them off on social media, as well as our website. It can quickly and easily create the desire to get their album as soon as they can and show it off. Most have custom designed covers, and with the images produced by our studio’s photographers, the albums are quite impressive and customized perfectly to fit our brand. We use Vision Art Albums and couldn’t recommend them more. I reached out to 6 album companies and ordered samples, not only was Vision Art one of the most impressive when it came to quality, they were the most customizable.



We offer our clients a gift package for taking photos of their albums and posting them on their own social media pages. Sure, it’s always great to see your clients sharing their pictures on their social media platforms. Imagine having your clients showing off their wedding photos along with the album and the printed photos inside. This not only creates an interest in your photography to the friends and family of your clients, but it also helps to make it known just how impressive the final product looks and how happy they are with it. Create an incentive to have your clients help promote your work and your brand. Showing off the album and the photos inside not only promotes your work but also what your brand is all about.



I hope this helps, and most of all I hope it makes sense. It’s difficult for me at times to put such a detailed and planned out branding plan into words when it’s much easier explained in person. It’s because of the successes I’ve seen as a studio owner and the amount of growth in such a short period of time that I started teaching workshops rather than trying to explain things in a short article like this. This was a topic that I discussed in even further detail at my Savannah Workshop. In 2019, I have no doubts that we will sell over 100 albums, with 75% or more of those coming with purchased upgrades. If you are struggling with album sales, there’s nothing I can suggest more than taking the sales part out of it. If you’re good at sales, having the proper branding in place will only help make your life easier. If you aren’t, maybe rebranding is something to consider so that albums are a much bigger part of who you are as a company. Albums will start to sell themselves and you’ll never have to give a sales pitch about how good your albums are again.


New Workshop Announcement


Newly Designed - Holdfast Money Maker

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


A Photographer's Workshop

For Those Looking To Make Positive Changes in 2017


It's pretty crazy just how much can change in the span of 10 years. Back on June 4th of 2005, Sandi and I got married in the Pocono Mountains, at the Mountain Springs Lake Resort. Back then, neither of us were the slightest bit into photography or even owned a camera. Fast forward to this past weekend, and I found myself hosting a 3-day long wedding photography workshop at that same exact resort. Taking photos of a married couple modeling for us, standing in the same exact spot where Sandi and I exchanged our vows. 

- Read The Reviews -

Sandi - 2005

Sandi - 2005

Our wedding - 2005

Our wedding - 2005

It was only a little over 4 years ago that I officially jumped into the wedding photography industry and shot my first wedding. Since that time, I've accomplished more in this industry than I ever could have imagined and built one of the most well known and successful multi-photographer wedding studios in the country. With that being said, I have also been very active in the educational side of the industry, but have held off on hosting workshops of my own.

I've helped out other photographers, but for the past 3 years, I have purposely held off on hosting anything myself. I honestly wanted to wait until I felt that I was ready, and that I had something valuable to offer. I also wanted to wait until I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and what I wanted others to get out of it. As I watched 2016 bring a tough year for many photographers, for a number of different reasons, something clicked and I began planning. I thought that hosting a workshop near the beginning of the new year would be a great idea. Hosting a workshop based around the idea of RESETTING, and getting 2017 kicked off with new ideas, changes, and confidence. This is where the idea of Camp Reset was born. 

Photo by: Gary Feng

Photo by: Gary Feng

I wanted to have it be myself and two other speakers that would bring something completely different to the table. Three different styles, three different shooting techniques, and three different business approaches. I also wanted to make networking and making new friends a huge part of the workshop. I brought in Bud Johnson and Douglas Polle as the other speakers and decided to hold the workshop at the Mountain Springs Lake Resort in Reeders, Pennsylvania. This is the same place that I had gotten married at 11 years ago. Mountain Springs Lake was the perfect place to hold the workshop because they have a beautiful piece of property hidden in the Pocono Mountains of PA with a large lake and rustic log cabins for everyone to stay in. 

Photo by: Bud Johnson

Photo by: Bud Johnson

The workshop sold out in one day, filling up to 25 attendees, which was great to see. Everyone arrived at the resort around 4PM and the festivities began. Everyone hung out that night, we ordered pizzas, and had a beer or two... or three. Everyone got to meet each other, talk a little shop, and just unwind a little before a long day ahead. Saturday morning we got things officially kicked off and we spent the day at the main lodge which offered a great spot to hold lectures. Bud, Doug, and myself each spoke for an hour before the resort served an awesome buffet lunch, did the same after, and then everyone was served with a buffet dinner that was even better than lunch. Dinner was one of the best catered dinners I've honestly ever eaten, and they had more than enough food for everyone to have not only 2nds, but 3rds. No joke. 

Photo by: Gary Feng

Photo by: Gary Feng

As far as what we focused our lectures on, it was based on providing everyone in attendance changes that they can implement into their businesses going into the new year. From marketing, to working with clients, building relationships in the industry, shooting techniques, wall art sales, and other different business strategies that could help make 2017 the best year yet for everyone. All 3 of us speakers have a different background, have different stories of where we come from and what drives us. We each have different marketing and business strategies, shooting techniques, editing styles, and relationships with our clients. Everyone in attendance was able to see how all 3 of us are very different, but also very successful, and offer something different in terms of what made us each successful. 

PC: Gary Feng

PC: Gary Feng

PC: Gary Feng

PC: Gary Feng

Sunday morning was spent photographing a married couple that came to the resort to model for everyone. I demonstrated my posing techniques, how I work with my clients, and how I make my photographs of them look so natural and photojournalistic while being a little more hands on. Everyone was back on the road and heading home by 2pm, and the first Camp Reset was officially in the bag, and an absolutely huge success. 

Photo by: Eric Talerico

Photo by: Eric Talerico

Besides the lectures and shooting on Sunday to practice the new techniques that were taught, the biggest take away from the entire weekend was the time spent simply getting to know each other. The first night, Friday night, was great for getting to meet everyone and making introductions. Everyone hung out at one cabin and had a good time. The 2nd night, Saturday night, was a different story and really the meat and potatoes of the workshop. Everyone was a little more comfortable with each other and it was a great night hanging out, having awesome conversations, doing a little partying, and really letting loose with a group of new friends. I can't wait til the next one!

Reading the reviews that were submitted, I was blown away by how special this workshop was for everyone that attended, and just how much of an impact it had on them. I'm glad to see that waiting like I did, and then putting a lot of time into putting this workshop together really paid off! 



Photo by: Cecilia Grace

Photo by: Cecilia Grace

Photo by: Gary Feng

Photo by: Gary Feng

Photo by: Kim Angelo

Photo by: Kim Angelo

A few other key parts of the workshop that I don't want to leave out:

- Tim Hussey from Pixifi spent the weekend with everyone and gave a brief explanation and demo of Pixifi. Along with Tim, we had a great group of sponsors that provided awesome giveaways: Allens Camera, Fundy Designer, B&H Photo, G-Technology, Atmospheric Aerosol, and The Refined Union

Random Photos From Everyone

A Handful Of Photos

From My Cameras