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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

WILIN: You Fail When You Quit

You Fail When You Quit

Finally! I exhaled when I saw this part of the screen approximately 11:45am. I thought it be most fitting to describe probably the most frustrating era of my life to conclude my nursing student for good and share what I've learned from it all.


For any visitor here who doesn't know me, I'm JJ and yes I [officially] graduated from the School of Nursing at University of San Francisco. And for those who know me and still don't even know my first name, it really is Jasef [pronounced Jah-Sehf]. This test is THE test I struggled with. It's called the HESI exit exam [stands for Health Education Systems, Inc]--basically a standardized test for nursing students in which we take at least 3 of them and then the final exit exam in which you need to pass at least 78% for USF to graduate and leave school behind.

I'm not going to lie and will flat out say I took this test SIX (6) TIMES. I'm not going to mention though how much each test costs =( haha... Nevertheless, I'm glad it's behind me but I will never forget what I really learned.

I'm sure everyone knows by now that not everything will go your way exactly as you planned. If you haven't experienced it yet, you will for sure. There will be times when you feel that you've done your all and still you're not getting what you expected or planned for. There will be people out there who will cross their arms and simply say "No." There will be times when you're just denied by the situation, time, or a "higher being" if you believe in one. It flat out sucks in simpler terms. When you want something so bad--literally within your reach--and you just can't get it, it's frustrating to say the least. [Remember that time you walked down the toy aisle with your parents and found the toy you wanted and held it and hugged and refused to give it up... even bargained that it will serve as your birthday and Christmas gift to only have to leave it back in the toy aisle?? Yes, that's how much you want it and yes that's how I use to bargain with my mom].

Get enough of these denials in life and it will break you. I don't care how man of a man you are or how tough you claim you are, when you are passionate of something and/or believe in something so bad that it doesn't come true or go your way, you will break down. For me, I cried. I cried when I didn't pass the third time when I realized I would have to stay another semester in school in order to retake the exam(s) until I passed. Yet, I looked forward and saw what I needed to do.

I studied, didn't pass, so I changed up my studying habits. Ok didn't work again--changed my habits again. And yet still didn't work. I don't remember how many times I cursed to myself as this process repeated itself over. To top it off, I felt that I owed this passing of this exam to my family and girlfriend who really believed in me as well [so yes, there's the added pressure I put on myself].

Fast forward to today after I promised to myself I'd pass and an anxiety filled morning and 4 runs to the bathroom during the exam to pee because of a needed Red Bull after waking up at 5am and sleeping 12:30am, I did it. Not to mention repeated cursing to myself and saying in my head "SHOW UP!" and shadow boxing and jumping in the bathroom to get the blood circulating. haha

As for the title for this entry, there are exceptions. When you quit something that doesn't interest you any more or doesn't benefit you any longer, you did not fail. [i.e. quitting smoking, quitting to learn piano because you no longer like it, etc]. I'm talking about when you quit trying to do what you want in your life, then ultimately it is failure. This is of course in my opinion.

In a way, I've learned that you will be denied someway or the other if you want something to happen or want something in general for yourself. I've learned that these are only hurdles and are not roadblocks. The world [and/or God] is testing you--trying to see how bad you want it. You attempt to go over that hurdle and even if you trip or stumble on it, you pick yourself up, patch up your cuts and continue the run to the next hurdle.

[Side note: finding a job? That's another hurdle for me after I pass my NCLEX-RN boards which is also another hurdle =) ]

You may even veer to an intersection and find yourself lost. I certainly did as I doubted myself while studying if this is suppose to be for me and all that negative stuff. But after you cleared your mind of the negative thoughts, it should be time for you to see that map and find yourself back on that correct road. If you want it that bad that is, you'll even force yourself back on that road to your passion or want.

While obtaining what you want can be self driven, it is rarely that case. With that being said, I will thank a few people here who helped guide me back to that road and helped pick me up when I fell [repeatedly].

To my family: I thank you for the continued support and prayers. You never stopped believing in me. And thanks bro [Kuya Den] for always putting things in perspective: "This test is nothing compared to the rest of your life..."

To my friends: thank you for being there for me and offering the encouragement and study tips. To my USF friends, thank you for literally being there for me. =)

To my teacher Dr. Higgins: thank you for being patient with me throughout two semesters haha! I appreciate your will and confidence in me to overcome this.

To my girlfriend, Cher: thank you for being there when I cried and basically broke down. Thanks for being hard on me to be resilient to study and pass.

And finally to my Mom: thanks for your never-ending love and support. I appreciate the times when you chose not to get mad at me for the inability to pass but instead kept pushing me to just study and work even harder.

Thank you all again! For anyone reading this who just stumbled on a hurdle and is having a hard time, don't quit. You know what you want is within reach, so stick with it and keep your eyes on the prize. Do it long enough, and you'll get to it no matter what. Scratch that: Make sure you'll get it no matter what. Keep strong, be strong.

At my computer on day of test (left to right): ear plugs in 35mm film container, name placeholder I got when I covered an event to remember who I am, a note I had my mom write on a Post-It, a love poem my girlfriend wrote from Rumi from a Valentine's gift, and finally the big eraser I've used in ALL my tests since 8th grade through high school and now all my nursing tests at USF. The script says "Good Luck at SI! [St. Ignatius]" by my best friend at the time Herissa.

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.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Book Signing: Christopher Moore at Books Inc on Van Ness (03/23/10)

The placed was packed at Books Inc at 601 Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco that night. With Christopher Moore in the room, author of funny novels including Lamb [the book I was introduced to by my cousin (Ate) Chariss], A Dirty Job, Fluke, and really much more, everyone wanted to hear this very funny author speak.

He explained that he usually doesn't prepare anything really for his appearances and even for his appearance at Google headquarters tomorrow, he's not that prepared. So instead, he shared with us some random stories that just got everyone listening even more to laugh with him.

The staff of Books Inc. wore these shirts promoting him and his book and you can already tell what type of personality he has by having these shirts! It is also a reference to his other book--You Suck.

I did buy his latest book Bite Me, which is a vampire love story based in San Francisco [author does live here] and finishes his vampire trilogy. My girlfriend and I also brought our copies of Lamb and enthusiasm as we waited in line for about 40 minutes.

Did not know he'd do that or else I would've done the same! Next time, I'll make sure to be in sync with the people I photograph with.

Thanks again Chris for your time and sharing your presence with us! We'll definitely take your advice and add Paris to our travel destinations!

For more info on the author Christopher Moore, please visit his website at

His blog:
Facebook Fanpage:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Donwill's Don Cusack High Fidelty: ON SALE!

Donwill, NYC rapper who is one third of the critically acclaimed group Tanya Morgan just released his solo album. Got an email from a music rep from announcing it and provided links.

I was fortunate to photograph Donwill when he made a stop here in San Francisco with the help of Interdependent Media's Dominic Del Bene and Oh Dang! Magazine editor Zoneil Maharaj.

So here's a link to Amazon's page to buy his album--CLICK HERE! [I just purchased it]

If you'd rather stop by in a store, look at this list provided in Interdependent Media's site HERE. If you're in San Francisco, Amoeba Music and Rasputin's will have it in stock.

Best of luck Donwill on your album release and definitely I'm sure you'll be receiving positive feedback on your work.


The Background:

Donwill is one-third of hip-hop group Tanya Morgan, formed in 2003, who recently released their third full-length album Brooklynati in 2009. With the high praise from Rolling Stone and Time Out New York that Brooklynati garnered,Donwill is now ready to release his own album, Don Cusack in High Fidelity. The maxi-single of "Laura's Song," complete with the album version, radio edit, instrumental and a couple of remixes is now available for purchase on iTunes. Don Cusack in High Fidelity is now available everywhere via Bay Area label Interdependent Media.

About Interdependent Media:

Founded in 2006 in the Bay Area by Evan Phillips, Interdependent Media has built unique strengths in the development, production, and marketing of recorded music via new methods of marketing and promotion. Armed with a comprehensive understanding of both traditional and emerging methods of marketing, iM has successfully created multi-faceted methods of raising awareness and interest in their projects. Industry veterans Ian "ID" Davis and Dominic Del Bene head operations at iM and are credited with discovering and/or developing artists such as 9th Wonder, Little Brother, Tanya Morgan, Blackalicious, Del the Funky Homosapien, the Hieroglyphics and more. In 2010, iM will be releasing multi-media projects from artists Donwill, TRUTHLiVE, Canibus, Von Pea, A-Plus, and more. For more information, please visit

Monday, March 22, 2010

Proof That Someone Is Listening [Literally]

This is proof that if you work hard and put your work out in public, someone is watching and in this case listening--literally. My boy from high school sent this email message to me, basically a forward email of his brother Del from music group Legaci. He was a member of an older group in which I was fortunate to work with him as well as the other former members in Los Angeles, CA when I photographed their photos for their EP album.

Here is the forwarded email:

To my friends and family,

I know I've been MIA for awhile now, but really I've just been trying to take my music career to the next level. I've been focusing 100% on pushing my band Legaci, and our main source of promotion has been Youtube. We've been posting consistent videos since November and just last week, one of our videos was noticed. We covered a song by Justin Bieber called "Baby", and it caught the attention of Justin Bieber's manager. He contacted us last week and the end result was us flying down to New York, where we sang backup for Justin Bieber at a Z100 radio show and an MTV Live Leak performance.

The "Baby" video that Justin's manager saw:
Our live performance with Justin Bieber and Sean Kingston:
MTV Live Leak preview:
Us practicing with Justin:

This week we'll be performing behind Justin again on several TV shows:

Monday (3/22):
The View (KGO 7, 10AM)

Tuesday (3/23):
The View (KGO 7, 10AM)
David Letterman (CBS, 11:30pm)

Saturday (3/27):
Kids Choice Awards (Nickelodeon, 8pm)

Thanks again for supporting me with my music. We're hoping this opportunity with Justin can help bring more exposure to Legaci. I'll be keeping you all updated with the tour as I get more information and performance dates.

Take care,

ps. I'm writing you from New York!

Can you believe that? They did a cover of his song, manager saw it, flew them out to New York and now the group Legaci is touring with Justin Bieber. Who knows, maybe some other music execs will then take notice and hear Legaci and work out some type of deal.

[Side Note: Justin too was discovered on YouTube by Usher when Justin did a cover of Usher]

Point is, work hard and work even harder to let others know of your talents. You never know if you'll catch a particular person's attention.

To Legaci: good luck and soak in the moment as you perform live on stage in front of millions! =)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

7 Secrets to Closing Better Projects -- Faster By Ed Gandia

The following piece I received in an email newsletter after ordering Ed Gandia's book The Wealthy Freelancer. Can't wait to receive my copy in mail!


What do you do when a potential client calls you about a project
opportunity? Do you know what questions to ask...and in what order? Do
you know what "next steps" you'll suggest based on the information you
gather? developing a sales process is not the most exciting activity in
the world. But somewhere during my 11 years in sales, I came to the
realization that even a mediocre process beats no process at all.

In fact, following a well-defined process can not only help you
improve your sales effectiveness as a freelance professional, but it
can also help you stay relaxed, boost your confidence and save you a
great deal of time and effort.

The specific sales process you use should obviously depend on your
specific profession, the type of work you do and the kind of clients
you go after. But at a minimum, it should follow these simple

#1: Take Control
As the service provider, you need to take charge of the initial
conversation with the prospect. You're the expert. You know what
questions you must have answered. If you let the prospect take
complete control, you probably won't be able to gather all the needed
information. Or you might find yourself sharing ideas, references and
too many work samples prematurely.

#2: Determine the Problem to Be Solved
Find out what problem they're trying to solve, especially if the scope
of work is unclear. A simple "What do you need help with?" is often a
good conversation starter. Walk away from that first conversation with
something tangible.

#3: Learn More About the Prospective Client
Ask a few questions to help you determine what type of prospect you're
dealing with. One of the first questions I always ask is "How did you
find out about me?" That's because someone who came via client
referral is very different from someone who found me through a Google

#4: Learn More About the Work
Next, you need to learn more about the project or work to be done. You
don't need to know every single least not yet. Just enough
to help you put a proposal together. The more detailed questions
should be saved for a future conversation -- once you land the work.

#5: Check for Budget
As many of you know, I'm a proponent of bringing up the issue of fees
early on. Why? Because the time to find out that this is NOT a good
prospect (from a budget perspective) is now -- not after you've spent 1
or 2 (or more!) hours putting a proposal together.

I'm not suggesting you should quote an exact fee at this point;
providing the prospect with an approximate range will often do the

#6: Avoid Jumping Through Hoops
At the same time, you should try to limit the amount of work and
information you provide until you know you have a qualified prospect,
a good potential fit and strong commitment that you're their top
choice (or at least on the short list, if there is one). In other
words, referrals, detailed samples, concepts and the like should all
wait until you're closer to striking a deal. They should rarely be
part of that first conversation.

#7: Ask for the Work

Never be afraid to ask for the work. I call prospects just a few hours
after emailing my proposal. I flat out ask if we can get started. And
if you're in a situation where a committee will be making the
decision, always ask when that decision will be made. When that day
comes, call to ask for the work.

Whatever you do, don't "wing it." Develop a good process and put it
down on paper. Continue to refine it as you learn what works well and
what doesn't.

Ed Gandia is the co-founder of and
co-author of The Wealthy Freelancer: 12 Secrets to a Great Income and
an Enviable Lifestyle
. To download 3 free chapters of his book, visit

Monday, March 15, 2010

I just entered my 1st photo contest for the year...

and I'm number 1,009,605,055 for my portrait submission.

Well, my file name is numbered 1009605055 so I'm assuming that's how many photos are entered. haha

Wish me luck as winners are announced in each category in April 2010.

BTS: Anna Lisa Matias (video produced by MotionScope Studies; 02/28/10)

Anna Lisa Photoshoot: Behind the Scenes from motionscopestudies on Vimeo.

Photoshoot for a friend in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco.

Photographer: JJ Casas

Assistants: Jiro Bantay, Markie Idea

Stylist: Jane Park

Make-Up Artist: Karen Wan

Video: Francis Basco, Ryan Brown

Together we make up MotionScope Studies (

Equipment Used: Canon HV20

Music: Mayer Hawthorne - Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin'

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Photoshoot: Cara Anoinette Ramos [Designer] "Premiere PIeces" [03/10/10]

My friend Cara is currently a fashion designer student and so when another friend of mine Apol mentioned of doing a collaboration, I agreed to do so.

To be honest, this whole photoshoot got together in about a week. Luckily, the location was set [at this beautiful home in Hillsborough, CA]; the make up artist just agreed 2 days before the shoot; the stylist from my previous shoot was able to go; and having a couple of friends come through to help with the muscle and light placements helped for sure.

Here are the details:

Fashion Designer: Cara Antoinette Ramos
Make Up Artist: Maile Mercado
Stylist: Jane Park
Models: Liz Basila, Michelle Laguerta, Raquel Dayao, Lauren Nunez, and Renelyn Maglasang
Assistants: Apol Perea & Matt Luna

Below are my personal pics and edits that are slated to post on my website:

The group shot of the ladies having good conversations after work with some cocktails on order. At least that's the inspiration for the feel of the shoot ala Mad Men.

Lauren with the red dress.





Pictured with the models and stylist Jane Park.

Pictured again with the inevitable funny faces picture.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Beginning Photography: Class of Spring 2010

Me and my class of 4th-5th graders in Beginning Photography

I just finished a 7 week program with 11 Daly City 4th-5th grade kids in a class I've named "Beginning Photography" [all but one pictured above since he had to leave early ]. The title of the class says what this class is all about--getting the kids' feet wet in photography and just covering the basics like what a camera is, how to hold/use it, and basic theory of photography [aperture, shutter, and verrrry briefly ISO hehe].

I was able to get all the kids photo albums so they can place all their photos and bring it home. In the last day of class [Monday, March 8, 2010], I had all the kids present their portfolio in front of everyone.

Below are some of the photos I've picked that were personally my favorite from the class:

The 1st official day of shooting, I taught them Rule of Thirds and how to take simple portraits. We did expressions of anger, sadness, and happiness and each kid photographed their partner in these 3 moods.

Another portrait made by one of the students.

Another class' theme was panning--capturing people/things in motion by selectively blurring the background. This is all done in-camera with no help of Photoshop. And mind you, this is using basic pocket digital cameras. The kids did a great job capturing motion.

A step above panning are action shots in which the I think the kids had the most fun. We went outside and took advantage of the camera choosing a high shutter speed automatically to capture jumping shots. I give props to my student for capturing me in air in the photo above!

My favorite jumping photo for the day was this one [above]. I loved the angle and just perfect timing in capturing a high energy shot.

The last themed day before the portfolio day was trick photography. I briefly went over terms like perspective, distance, and proportion to show them that it all works together to make trick photography happen. All the kids were laughing as I photographed the kids and made them look super tiny--all in-camera.

Another favorite of mine is this above in which one of my students made it seem that one of the kids in the yard was jumping off the chair. It's just awesome when kids can show you something new and equally off-the-wall.

While it being only a brief 7-day course over the span of 7 weeks [not including school holidays hehe], I'm sure they were able to come out of this class with better knowledge and skill on how to take pictures.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

BTS: Anna Lisa Matias [Before and After Shoot; 02/28/2010]

I'll be honest. This is something probably the team didn't know either that day: I scouted the location on the day of the shoot. haha I did have the initial idea to shoot there but specifically I didn't know where to shoot exactly. Luckily, a little trek up a path and I found a location that was suitable for the type of shot I needed.

No, a stick didn't stab me on the leg as I scout a spot for the shoot. [Markie took these photos by the way haha]

Here's Jane [Stylist] telling me how we're going to use the fabric we bought for the shoot. Our model Anna Lisa brought food for us and I kept joking "What do you think this is??! A movie production?!" haha I am fortunate she brought them because that celebratory brownie was gooood.

Here's Anna Lisa laughing because... I don't know really. There's a lot of reasons to laugh that day: we're shooting in the middle of a park, we had to friggin' hike here a bit, she said "I can see people over there" [which were part of our crew]. I really don' know haha But it definitely doesn't hurt to have fun while shooting.

Ok. I know why she's laughing in the moment: Here's Gee [who is what, 6 feet or something?] holding my black background. I shout outloud as she's laughing with everyone, "Come on! This is our studio!"

The Group [left to right]: Jane Park [Stylist], Markie Idea [2nd Assistant/BTS shooter], Gee Bantay [1st Assistant], Anna Lisa Matias [talent], myself [Photographer], Ryan Brown [Videographer], Karen Wan [MUA], and Francis Basco [Videographer].

The real group shot.

After the shoot, we all go to Pho Phu Quoc on 19th Ave and Irving to fill the stomachs.

Jane makes the happy sauce.

My meal: Spicy Curry Coconut Chicken and rice.

One half of the table.

And the other half. Ryan and I are properly full.

For more behind the scenes photos, please go to:
Gee's BTS Shots

Ryan's BTS Shots

BTS Video Snippet

Thursday, March 4, 2010

New Logo: jC Photography

I had a friend, Adriel aka Drizzletron of Ill-Literacy and The Funky Pixel, redo my logo. Below is his explanation included when he designed me this logo:

Photographs possess the unique gift of not only capturing a moment, but immortalizing it -- often romanticizing it. This is not to say that it exaggerates reality. Rather, it highlights the perfections in every object, every life form, and every instance that is often invisible to the naked eye. All in all, it is man's closest physical interpretation of meditation.

So how does one create an image to represent a creator of images? First, I had to realize that the perfect photographer logo is one that does its job best by acting as a clean, non-intrusive, but still powerful accompanyment to the photos themselves. Essentially, I did what every good photographer knows to do when they need to expand their view -- I stepped back."

He continues with the explanation of the logo:

"When one person photographs another, they share a bond that has been long-lost in human interaction. Whether the culprit of the snap is a lover or stranger, for a brief instance your focus is on each other -- at times you gaze into other's eyes for seconds, even minutes on end. And although a camera may serve to masquerade what would otherwise be naked concentration on the other, what perhaps compensates for this is the final result, a permanent imprint of the moment. Taking "JJ," I simply flipped one on its head to face the other. Instant Reflection."


Love it and looking forward to branding all my materials with this brand new baby.

jC Photography x Anna Lisa Matias: Behind the Scenes

Special Thanks to:

Karen Wan (Make Up Artist)
Jane Park (Stylist)
Gee Bantay (1st Assistant)
Markie Idea (2nd Assistant/BTS Shooter)

MotionScope Studies [video coming soon]

And of course, Anna Lisa herself!

Music: "On the Go" by D-Black

Pics coming soon...stay tuned!

For behind the scene stills, go to Gee's blog at

MotionScope Studies
co-founder [I'm the other co-founder] Ryan Brown too had some pictures up on his page. VIEW HERE

My bad if the quality sucks--used my pocket digital camera and forgot to bring my 720p movie capable one!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Photoshoot: The Park [02/24/10] @ Mojito, San Francisco

Was fortunate to photograph The Park, a band that plays for many artists in different genres. As mentioned in the BTS entry, we shot at Mojito in San Francisco's North Beach.

Dominic wanted me to photograph their shoes and then that's when I learned they're sponsored by Creative Recreation . Nice!

I took individual shots of them. Yes, that is a keg they are sitting on.

The portrait series are my favorite from this shoot. They emailed me back saying it too was their favorite.

The Park has its extended family and this is another addition to the band.

Pictured here in our funny state is The Park, Dom, and I as my girlfriend Cherry takes a shot as the shoot wraps up.

Thanks again for the opportunity and looking forward to working again with yall in the future!

For larger pictures, please visit my website at