Interview with Eric Talerico, of Twisted Oaks Studio | SLR Lounge Artist Feature
Our “SLR Lounge Artist Feature” articles highlight some of the very best photographers in the world. This article features Eric Talerico. An accomplished business owner and photographer in his own right (Eric Talerico Photography), Eric primarily works as an Associate Lead Photographer for Twisted Oaks Studio (South Jersey, USA). Read on and check out Eric’s amazing photographs! As well, Eric talks about his journey into photography, how he got connected with Jay and Sandi Cassario at Twisted Oaks Studio, and why jiu-jitsu is such an important aspect to his success as a photographer.
Thanks so much for joining us for an interview, Eric! Tell us about your journey into photography, and how you got hooked up with Twisted Oaks Studio …
It all started when I purchased my first camera back in 2009, a Nikon D3000. For years, I’d been saving loose change, little by little, in a large pickle jar I kept in my office. I wasn’t into photography at the time, but figured I should spend the money on something worthwhile. Like most people do, I took a few photographs. Then the camera sat in my office for a year or so. It wasn’t until I started training jiu-jitsu that I resurrected the camera. I started taking photographs of my teammates training between rounds of sparring.
I learned quickly that photographing action in low light required some knowledge of how a camera works, so I started consuming every piece of information I could. Eventually, I upgraded to a Canon 5D Mark II and some faster lenses. One thing led to another, and people started asking me to photograph their families and their weddings.
I met Jay Cassario, owner of Twisted Oaks Studio, at one of his workshops in the Poconos, Camp Reset. It was a three-day workshop where we stayed in log cabins and did all the things you do at workshops. We learned photography stuff, met cool people, and drank a few beers by the fire. I guess I made an okay impression because when Jay needed to fill some second shooter spots, I was the guy that came to mind. After about a year of second shooting with Twisted Oaks, alongside running my own photography business, I started taking on weddings as a lead photographer at Twisted Oaks Studios, where I still am now.
You mentioned training jiu-jitsu, and if people look you up on social media, they’ll notice pretty quickly that training jiu-jitsu is a big part of your life. How has jiu-jitsu made you a better photographer?
Wow, good question! For me, jiu-jitsu has become one of the few staples in my life, alongside my family, friends, and photography. It’s the place I go to reset myself from my busy life. In regards to photography? It’s quite simple. Jiu-jitsu taught me not only to accept failure, but also that failure is an important part of the journey to becoming a better person, and a better photographer. I’m not saying you should fail on purpose, but don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and try new things just because you’re afraid of not being perfect.
That’s pretty rad, Eric. What do love the most about photographing weddings?
First, photography makes me feel like I’m doing something meaningful with my life. I believe that capturing memories of people with friends and family, especially on their wedding day is one of the most important jobs out there. I also love how much it challenges me.
Second, wedding photography, in particular, is one of the few niches of photography that includes a little bit of everything. Portraits, documentary, action, family, landscape, details, and shooting in every type of lighting scenario you can think of can. And it all easily falls into the same day!
Talk to us about one of your favorite photographs lately …
I’m going to go with a photograph of the grandmother dancing with the groom (see photograph above). Having lost quite a few family members to cancer who couldn’t make it to my own wedding, the importance of my job as a photographer weighs heavily on me. Capturing true, candid moments with the people my couples love the most is always at the forefront of my mind throughout the day. If I can tell their story through my artistic vision? Fantastic! But I believe some of the best photographs do not have to be the most technical.
This particular photograph speaks to me about my why. Namely, why I am a wedding photographer. There’s nothing overly technical about this photograph, but the moment is everything! I created this photograph with a Nikon 24-70mm, lit with two Godox AD200s off camera and one Godox V860ii on camera (for fill). I added Magmod MagGrids to my AD200s to narrow the spill of light on the ceiling and floor.
What’s the best piece of advice you have for a “new-to-photography photographer,” especially one who is looking to get into wedding photography?
First, I believe that the greatest success comes from relationships with people. Get involved in the photography community. Attend any ‘meet ups’ you can. Meet people out for coffee, or, even better, a beer! Go to workshops with the intent of forming relationships … And pay attention to the attendees as much as those running the workshop. Make connections! Second, keep your eyes out for who might need an assistant. Dabble with assisting, and work your way into second shooting. Finally, build experience with those connections to develop the skill and confidence to go off on your own and become a lead photographer.
Solid advice, Eric! What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Easy! On my way to my wedding, the guy at Wawa who made my hoagie offered me this advice: ‘Happy wife, happy life!’ And if you haven’t hear of Wawa? Well, you’re missing out!
So true on both points there (and we always hit up Wawa when visiting family in PA)! Anything else you’d like to share before you take off?
I’m pretty excited up about my upcoming workshop with Two Mann Studios. I’ve always been intrigued with Erika and Lanny’s work, and I hear they are pretty awesome people! We also have some insanely talented attendees for the workshop, too, like Jason Vinson.I also want to mention our Twisted Oaks Presets. Jay’s been keeping his presets secret for the past few years, but now the cat is finally out of the bag! Normally, presets don’t impress me, but his system is the first of its kind. The presets incorporate an additional layered preset for Alien Skin, which compliments the Lightroom presets.
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Please note, all photographs are copyrighted by Eric Talerico of Twisted Oaks Studio. They have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify, or re-post this article, or the included photographs, without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.