Search This Blog!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Book Signing: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin at Books Inc. (Berkeley, CA)

After hearing on Sunday's The Chronicle's Book section that Gretchen Rubin will be in the Bay Area for an appearance and book signing, I had to go. I've been reading The Happiness Project [my first Kindle purchase] and have been recommending to almost everyone since I'm enjoying the read so much.

And that was the problem too. I bought the Kindle version! Meaning I can't get my copy signed unless I had her sign my Kindle and it would seem odd if I had a bunch of signatures on it [then again, it would've been cool....] Even though I paid only $9.99 for the Kindle copy, I ended up forking $28+ for a hard copy. Eek! Then again, my dream book shelf is to have one shelf [or more] dedicated to all the books that I've had signed and pictures of myself with the author.

My cousin and I went to Berkeley's Book Inc. and while I haven't been here ever, it was a good reason to cross that scary ass S-curve on the Bay Bridge.

We got there in time and she went over the premise of the book and her project. Before she proceeded to the book signing, she answered any questions and one of the kids in front asked, "What does 'Be Gretchen' mean?" Audience laughs. She explained it was one of her "Commandments" [she explains in the beginning of her book] and all it really meant was to "Be You."

The book has a lot of good tips and I've been telling people that I've been having epiphanies on how to attain happiness for me and others. Just buy it already and it will surely pave a better New Year for 2010.

Line wasn't too bad [compared to my 3.5 hour wait for Scott Schuman's book] so it went by real quick.

While she signed my book, I explained how I have her book but in my Kindle and she laughed as I said, "Well! It would've been lame if I had you sign my Kindle so I ended up buying a copy today!"

I also brought in my camera and lighting kit just in case if she had time for a quick portrait. If I knew ahead of time, I would've asked her [and bought her book on Amazon to save a bit more money lol]

She unfortunately didn't have time but thanked me for spreading the word and showing the support.

"JJ--to your happiness! - Gretchen Rubin"

It was great meeting you Gretchen and I can only hope for your continued success on your book tour and future!

For more info on Gretchen Rubin, please visit the following:

Her main website!

The Happiness Project Blog!
The Happiness Project Toolbox!
Follow her on Twitter!
Become her fan on Facebook!

Hope you all enjoy the read as I definitely recommend this book to start this New Year!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What I've Learned in Nursing: The 5 Rights

This was originally scheduled to be published in November 18, 2009 but have only only recently finished and published it. Enjoy!

The 5 Rights

In nursing, part of the care is medication administration. In order to be safe, we were taught in the very beginning when our clinicals started about "The 5 Rights." These rights were: right medication, right dose, right time, right patient, right route. The order didn't matter too much but just as long as you, the nursing student, checked these "rights" prior to giving the medication.

Like in all things in nursing, it is very important to put the patient's safety as the priority. If I were to give a patient too much of a drug [or too little], or too soon [or too late], or to the wrong patient and/or route, well things can go very wrong.

These 5 Rights have been ingrained ever since in order to make sure what we give to patients as nurses are 100% correct. Yes, no room for error and I totally agree.

To tie this to the "other side of the road"--life outside of nursing--I'd still say we have a certain "5 Rights" to abide to. For me, the equivalent to the nurse's 5 Rights [of drug administration] would be the right who, right what, right where, right when, and why.

I'll refer to these "other side of the road" 5 rights as life's general's rights because the 5 W's can be applied to practically everything. But to give an example, I'll apply it to one self's being.

Who you are as a person greatly affects the people and situation around you. When you're attitude is unfitting, people just don't want to be there with you. Being positive is hard in all situations, but never stop trying. If you're a good at anything [even just being a good person in general], like what my good friend Lauren says, "Let it be known."

What you do is always important--big or small. In Paul Arden's book Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite, there is a part that describes a street sweeper. "He wasn't just a street sweeper; he was the best street sweeper."

I remember Brother Draper, the dean of students at my high school, always gave his speech on how students get in trouble in the beginning of the year. He'd say, "Wrong place, wrong time." Sometimes you can control the situation and change it and other times where you are is out of control. How you respond to either situations will be the result of who you are and what you can do.

Timing is everything. If you're late for a meeting [with anyone], what does that say about you? When you remember to call a friend for her birthday, surely you are to be remembered for that gesture. Why are you saving that unused _____ [fill in the blank i.e. tshirt, box of pens, candle, etc], what are you saving it for?

To quote a good movie of mine, Kung Fu Panda:
"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the "present." - Oogway

Timing is everything, so make it count.

My favorite word that in itself is a question. Asking "why?" can only bring answers to curiosity and solutions to problems [and annoyance if asked too much... remember asking this repeatedly as a kid?]

To understand is to question. To question is to find an answer. To find an answer is to ask again "why?" until it can no longer be explained.

I want to be a great photographer.
I love producing creative images and would want to do it for a living.
Being paid to be creative would be a dream.
To face reality of working on a schedule would not seem so fun.
Because I want time in my life to enjoy it and spend it with the people around me.
Because I find happiness in the people around me.
Being successful is nothing if you can't share it with anyone.

OK, you get the picture. Asking why can reveal many things even if you weren't set out to find that particular answer. [This short exercise for me at 2am was answered without plan].

WILIN "What I've Learned in Nursing" is a new blog reel that takes bits and pieces from what I've learned as a nursing student at University of San Francisco (c/o Fall 2009) and apply it to the rest of the real world. It is my attempt now to "combine" photography and nursing as many people have suggested who know I am conflicted with nursing and photography as a job/career.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

jC Photography x Donwill: Behind the Scenes [Short] Video

Talent: NYC based rapper Donwill of Tanya Morgan
Photographer: JJ Casas
Output: Oh Dang! Magazine
Location: Medium Rare (San Francisco, CA)
Video footage by: Apol Perea

For pictures of the shoot, click here or previous blog entry.
For more behind the scenes look, click here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Help Haiti: Donate Now [if you haven't!]

If anyone knows me they already know I follow too many blogs. One of them is Toy-A-Day to remind me the joys of once being a kid [and how simple and cool these paper toys are! My all time favorite is the Frida once since she's my all time favorite artist. And anyone of you out there who are gifted in transforming a blank template into something, he also offers that as well on the blog site].

Anyways, Toy-A-Day just recently offered 100 toys on a CD [simply print and cut and glue] to you if you donate $5 in which 100% proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders. If you haven't donated to the Haiti Relief Fund, do so and get a wicked CD with enough paper toys to run your ink dry. Plus, your younger brother, sister, niece, nephew, goddaughter, godson, etc will thoroughly enjoy these and also take part in making them!

Even if you have already donated, $5 is nothing [remember that fast food meal you just got? Sorry for the guilt trip... haha]

Here's his blog entry on the offer, but go ahead and just visit his post already:

By now, I believe we are all aware of the devastating plight of Haiti and the sufferings of its people. I am touched by the internet communities who are reaching out and giving a helping hand. As a fellow human being, the least I can do is to do my part too.

I will be selling the Toy-A-Day CD containing the PDF of 100 toys from the Toy-A-Day archives, with 100% proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders, which has been doing a great job bringing emergency medical care to earthquake survivors in Haiti.

The CD will be on sale for US$5 including shipping to anywhere in the world. Looking forward to your support!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Photoshoot: Donwill [01/20/2010]

Photography by: JJ Casas
Talent: NYC rapper Donwill of Tanya Morgan
Ouput: Pictures for Oh Dang! Magazine
Assisted by: Apol Perea
Location: Medium Rare (San Francisco, CA)

My favorite photo is above. Loved the expression and candid moment.

Thanks again to everyone involved in this shoot! For Behind the Scenes look, look at previous post!

Behind The Scenes: Photoshoot: Donwill [01/20/10]

This shoot just came to me in the morning. Although at first I hesitated to do it, I'm glad I went on out this cold wet Wednesday afternoon to take the shots. Even though I wanted to plan concepts prior to doing a shoot, I went in with an open mind and came away some great images within the hour I was given.

A few thanks...

Thanks to my friend Apol who accompanied me to the shoot to help and take these behind the scene shots. Thanks as well to the editor in chief of Oh Dang! Zoneil for giving me the opportunity to photograph NYC based rapper Donwill of hip hop trio Tanya Morgan. And finally, thanks to Arjay for allowing us to use his shop Medium Rare in San Francisco.

All photos taken by Apol Perea:

Me unpacking while Zoneil interviews Donwill in the back [an actual barber shop!]

I shot with my Sony A700 and 24-70mm 2.8 Sony Carl Zeiss lens. This alone is my favorite combo [until I upgrade my camera body to a full frame...]

(Left to Right) Zoneil of Oh Dang! Magazine, Donwill, myself, and Dominic--one of the head operators of Interdependent Media.

Probably the coolest accident picture of me--taking pictures and checking the LCD screen to make sure I got the shot.

Donwill sitting in one of the barber chairs.

Main set up: One monolight as main on left with shoot-thru umbrella and another monolight camera right gelled red all triggered and controlled wirelessly.

Utilizing Medium Rare's interior design.

Donwill rapping as I take pictures.

(Left to Right): Zoneil, Donwill, Dominic, Apol, and myself. I'm the only one smiling. hahah

A pic of myself and the talent Donwill with our photoshoot wrapped up.

Stay tuned for a behind the scenes video as well as the edited pictures!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Concept: Anna Lisa "Vanity"

I met with Anna Lisa through... Twitter? I really forgot. haha But when I found out she had some shooting experience and is nearby in the Bay Area, I was up for the task of networking and seeing if she'd be up for a promotional photoshoot.

As I explained to her in our meet and greet, I want to go out and create pictures and not just pictures that "look good." For me, I find it easy to make a picture look good. My blunt equation is flattering light + good looking model = good looking picture.

So instead, I love working in concepts and projecting a story into the picture. If the saying goes "A picture is worth a thousand words," I want my pictures to be worth the sum of the pages that contain those thousand words.

I truly believe that this is what sets good photographers from the best mother effin photographers in the world that can capture audiences from all ranges.

Before I proceed with the logistics of the shoot, lighting, location, make up artists, assistants, etc, I first give the model/talent a set of questions ranging from "Describe yourself to me" to "What is your favorite color." My point is to get into the model/talent's head in order to come up with something that can relate to them so they'll feel natural when it's time to come in front of the camera.

For Anna Lisa, she has had experience with modeling as well being in pageants. I felt that a mirror strongly represents vanity and that notion of self-awareness is important in all of us. I suggested for her shoot that we utilize a mirror in almost all the shots using reflections.

I'm not the best illustrator but I do get into the habit or drawing out an outline of what kind of shots I'm looking for. Below are conceptual drawings for Anna Lisa's shoot entitle "Vanity."

Once again, not the best illustrator but this will be the "standard headshot." It will be her looking at the camera through the mirror. Again, the theme is Vanity and will illustrate Anna Lisa self aware of herself and image.

Part of the shot I wanted is to create this image of purity and so using white as the primary color can help illustrate this idea of pureness. Her dress will be long and fluid and the room/background will be white as well. In other words, a high-key shot.

While we were discussing our shoot, she brought up an idea of shooting somewhere near trees for a "foresty look." This is just in case if we can't get space to use for the background set up she explained and after a few moments I love the concept of shooting the same dress and mirror poses in the midst of a forest location. It would look something out of the pages of a fairy tale of some sort.

We are scheduled to shoot third week of February and we are finalizing the location as well as having a stylist and make up artist on board.

Music Album: J-Ricz's Sophomore Album MusicPhiliac - YOU VOTE FOR THE COVER!

My friend and musician J-Ricz is letting his fans vote for the cover of his sophomore album MusicPhiliac. I've had the pleasure of shooting his first album Genesis [you can see his pics on my website under Music] and seeing him grow musically since then has been awesome [yes, that meant I got to listen to a few tracks unreleased =P]

Plus, you get the chance to win an autographed album of MusicPhiliac when it's slated to be released in August 2010. Voting is free and the chance to win is free so why not?

We had a photoshoot in October 2009 and I was finally able to narrow down the pictures and process them for possible covers. Yes, I took a bit too long... haha

Below are 3 close up pics of the mock up covers I did for him. Make sure to vote [which takes like 1 minute] and follow the directions on the link after pics below to win an autographed copy!

Cover 01

Cover 02

Cover 03

Now vote for the best cover!


For more information on J-Ricz and his music take a visit to his website here.

Also follow him on Twitter!
And on Facebook!

Review: Roger von Oech's Y-BALL

First off, I'd like to thank Lynn from Creative Whack Company for the initial contact after reading my review of Roger von Oech's Ball of Whacks. She was kind enough to send me a review of the not-yet-released follow up to the X-Ball, the Y-Ball. I was told that this product will be released sometime in this February.

Here's the letter sent to me attached to the package containing the review copy of the Y-Ball.

Front package shot.

The package includes the 30 Y pieces itself [to make a Ball as pictured] as well as a guidebook to assist in playing with the creative toy.

Just like the previous Ball of Whacks, it is not only a toy to have fun with but also a tool for everyone and anyone.

Inside shot of the package.

You can combine the Y-Ball with the X-Ball components to make even more designs, shapes, and endless possibilities.

All its contents.

As stated on the package, the Y-Ball is based on the soccer ball shape. And now when anyone mentions a soccer ball, you can impress them [hopefully] by saying that the soccer ball's shape is an icosahedron.

Just like the Ball of Whacks, the Y-Ball comes with a guidebook filled with instructions, tips, and examples of shapes/designs you can make. Right off the bat Roger [von Oech] asks you to play with it and familiarize yourself with the pieces.

The second part is the Creativity Workshop. After being able to familiarize yourself with the pieces, it then guides you into using the Y-Ball as a creative tool to spark ideas and help solve problems. I don't want to spoil its contents but if you'd like to get a good idea of what it contains, do try the Creative Whack Pack either buying the deck or buying the iPhone application. Having the Y-Ball [or the Ball of Whacks/X-Ball] supplements Roger's creativity workshops greatly by being able to exercise your creativity not only mentally but also physically through its pieces.

Lastly, Roger provides background information on the design of the X-Ball itself. If you're into geometry, this is your language written here mentioning icosidodecahedron, truncated icosahedron, and golden ration geometry.

A brief biography of the creator Roger von Oech in the back of the guidebook.

The pieces itself are blue plastic with each "Y" end containing positive and negative magnets. This allows you to attach and detach the pieces to each other easily. Comparing the magnets used in the Y-Ball versus the Ball of Whacks, I can tell that stronger magnets were used and this provides better control and hold of the shapes you can make.

What will you allow your mind and hands creative when you see this on your desk? Or using these pieces to represent a certain problem you have in work or situation, how can you find order within the chaos or find patterns and solutions?

I wanted to recreate the cover image of the package and here is the soccer ball itself assembled.

The guidebook offers some examples of patterns/designs and this here is a Flat Weave. Definitely the possibilities are endless especially when you add in the X-Ball and Ball of Whacks.

Size comparison of the Y-Ball and Ball of Whacks. The Y-Ball does have a larger footprint than the Ball of Whacks on a desk.

But I quickly found a solution so that I can at least keep both items on my desk without taking up space of the two.

If you're into anything that you like to use your hands to create and build something [i.e. Legos, blocks, etc] the Y-Ball is for you. I thoroughly enjoy my Ball of Whacks because it provides me a mini vacation from my desk and computer without even leaving. The Y-Ball represents that as well. Both the Ball of Whacks and Y-Ball provide me a mental punching bag allowing me to distress and then regroup just by playing with the pieces and creating something.

The the guidebook is just as valuable as the pieces themselves. Roger's creativity workshops are definitely worth a read because they provide exercises to stimulate the mind and spark creativity. It's a definitely a good guide to anyone on a mental block.

One of my important aspects when buying a toy (yes, I still buy toys time to time) is its replay value: how often can I play with this toy and not get tired of it? Video games provide a length of play but once you're done with the story line, that's pretty much it. Action figures are well, action figures that strike a pose indefinitely.

Toys [I mean tools] from Roger von Oech provide an infinite amount of replay time. I will pick it up, play with it and then get tired of it. But again later I will pick it up once again and what I create with it will be different from the last time. For me to be able to pick up it time after time is what I love most about the Ball of Whacks and now the Y-Ball that now resides on my desk.