Monday, March 23, 2015

insta-faves 06: jocelynewhy

Today I am interviewing an amazingly sweet and talented Instagrammer who has become a friend since I “met” her on the social site almost a year ago. Her real name is Jocelyne Yamaguchi, but I still think of her as she's known on Instagram: @jocelynewhy.

I’m really excited for this opportunity- so far most of what I know of her has been gleaned from 2 x 2 images. This series gives us a glimpse of the person behind the feed, and I have to admit that as I scrolled back through hers in preparation, I smiled like a goof the whole time. Jocelyne is...(I wish you could see me...there's that smile again as I try to describe her!)...well, she's just...Jocelyne. She sews her own clothes, pulls over if there's a dig-your-own-succulents sign at the side of the road, picks and plucks her way through the woods, forages plants to adorn her walls, always packs a picnic blanket, makes art out of leaves on her counter, loves Jesus, loves the world, and calls her fiance her "favorite human." I mean, she's just so stinkin' adorable I want to squeeze her. And at the same time, there is the immediate sense I have a lot to learn from her.

{Disclaimer: Since Jocelyne and I typically talk within the IG universe, it is going to be exceptionally hard for me to write this without using emojis (arguably of equal importance in that world to actual letters). But we’ll give it a try. I would also like to issue a blanket apology for the likely rampant overuse of exclamation points.} 


ASD: Jocelyne, thank you for doing this! I’m SO excited to have you and your beautiful pictures on my blog!

JY: Yayyyy! I’m so excited! And hahahahaha emojis! I know!! Sometimes when I’m emailing my professors I have to use every ounce of self control to keep the emojis

ASD: I know. I’m constantly annoyed that I can’t use them on my computer. I’m afraid I’m going to end up speaking them in real life like Gina on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

JY: Hahahaha! The English teachers would throw a fit and mourn the loss of English as the rest of us revert back to pictographs. 

ASD: When did you start using Instagram? Have you always used it the way you do today? 

JY: I started using this app years ago. At first it was just a tool for editing my pictures, which I would then put on Facebook, I think….Then I started posting whenever I could get my hands on my sister’s iPod Touch because mine was the dinosaur that did not have a camera. They were always annoyed with me because I would plead with them, “Can I use your iPod?” hahahahaha! Then I got an iPhone and I was stoked because I could now post whenever and whatever I liked independent of my sisters! Score! My style developed after that. I was still all group shots and such for a little while; treating the app like another form of Facebook, but then I decided that I wanted the app to be more than that for me, so I dumped those facebook-esque group shots and started opting for candid and more interesting shots of the people that I love.

ASD: Have you upgraded to a DSLR or are you still using the iPhone?

JY: 99.8% of the time I use my iPhone camera and VSCO. I do not have a digital camera but recently I ran into an old friend of mine at our University and he lent me his DSLR to use while I want for the time being. So I’ll shoot with that one when I have more time to click and edit.

ASD: What about editing software?

JY: I started using Photoshop and Lightroom with those pictures--and by using I mean, trying to figure out what everything does and then really only maximizing a smidgen of the programs because everything is just way too complex. It’s like one of those iceberg things I’m sure; only seeing the very smallest portion of it all because the rest is muddled under water and I’m too lazy to strap on a wet suit and check it all out. My fiance is a graphic design major so I ask him to help me with all those programs because he is well versed in them. Also a bit more on the DSLR, I tend to be someone that uses what I have, meaning I won’t go out and spend money to get the latest and greatest. I’ll use what I have unless I really need something (it allows me to be a problem solver)! But, when I used the DSLR and edited the images...I fell in love. I hate loving the fancy and nice things, but man, the level of quality that those cameras can produce makes it hard to go back to the phone.

ASD: Do you have “signature” edits or filters- ones you find yourself always using?

JY: Yes!!! When editing my #autotrohpotos I tend to use an adjustment of the N1 VSCO preset because it produces a crisper white than what I get in my poorly lit apartment. But, typically I’ll just adjust the basic things like exposure, contrast, and maybe even temperature. I think that presets and filters are so fun, but they have their time and place. I like to make my pictures look as natural as possible, so when I use the presets I use them lightly and sparingly.

ASD: Speaking of which, I would love to know how you make your #autotrophotos! Do they start with a drawing? Tell me about the process and how those come together.

JY: Okay, so these things are pretty involved. First, I start with some sort of inspiration. Like the Rifle Paper Co. images or the golden gate bridge! Then I go out and gather some leaves- whatever I can find outside. Then I begin. I hunker in for at least a few hours to make these, of course it all depends on how intricate they are. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way I had in mind, and because I don’t want to waste the leaves, I’ll start again with a new idea. In those cases, I literally could be on the floor carefully placing leaves for hours! I’m always racing the light though so I try to do them quickly. Sometimes I’ll need to go outside and get more leaves, so it really is a project. Also some scoop about the process: a while back, I found a large thin piece of wood lying around my house that I decided to paint white to make a portable background for my pictures. It has since become an important part of my autotrophotos. It’s great because it’s portable, so I can always have good natural lighting, and its thin, so it can be easily stashed away! 

ASD: How did you start doing them in the first place? 

JY: My first autotrophoto was a portrait of Jesus, and I think it is still my favorite. I had written a post for my co-blog about 2013, and needed an image to go with it. One day while walking home from class, it hit me! Make a picture of Jesus! But, drawing or painting one intimidates me, because it’s JESUS! So I thought I could make an abstract image using something, and then plants came into my mind. I think that the process was totally a God thing, I was completely inspired by God who gave me the idea. After that, I wanted to make more, so I did.

ASD: What does the hashtag #autotrophotos mean?

JY: The hashtag came after I made a few pictures because I wanted a place for them to hangout on Instagram that was separate from my feed. #autotrophotos is a play on the word “autotroph” which is “an organism (as a plant) that can make its own food from substances that do not come from other living things” for example food from the sun. So #autotrophotos are just “plant photos.” I just thought that #autotrophotos was more clever than #plantphotos lol!

ASD: Do you think you'll ever throw out the invitation for other people to use the tag?

JY: I like the idea of people joining in on the tag. But, I’m a little particular... I have noticed that plant pictures have become very popular around Instagram. People are using leaves and petals to make faces and mandalas and things, which is so cool, but I don’t want autotrophotos to become a place for that. I think that the autotrophotos have a distinct character--taking leaves and using them to make pictures, like a picture of the eiffel tower, or the Taj Mahal. Nature is often over-looked and treated like a pest; like when its weeds grow in between cracks on the pavement, or when its leaves drop on someone’s perfectly manicured and controlled yard. To me all those things are beautiful and deserve attention and appreciation. For me, nature is where I feel closest to God; I like to incorporate it into all parts of my life, and then call people’s attention back to it in various ways.

ASD: You have access to incredibly “instagrammable” scenery out in California. What advice would you give to someone who wants to take interesting pictures, but doesn’t have an idyllic wood nearby to picnic in?

JY: Roll out that blanket and throw down the picnic anywhere! You don’t need to be in a park or a forest, or in the PNW to have a picnic and to have a pretty one at that! Sit down in a parking lot next to a wall covered in creeping vines, or next to a wall with an interesting mural or simply painted in a fun color! Brick walls are nice too! Park it on a rooftop, in a backyard, on one of those roundabout traffic circles in the residential areas---ANYWHERE! Don’t be confined to what you have seen done before, the really interesting grams are the ones that have not been done before. Zac (my fiance) and I recently laid out a picnic on the drive home from school. We got some Taco Bell, and rolled out a blanket on the side of HWY 5 (in a safe spot that would not cause car crashes, of course). I grammed it because I felt like it made my exact statement. We put a blanket down and then ate on it, that’s all! We can only be confined to the rules that we and society set, but if we break those rules and get creative, then we can really make some beautiful stuff.

ASD: One of my goals with this series is to gather for people (who are interested) as much advice as I can about how they can have an awesome IG feed. So if you’ve taken photography classes or workshops I’d love to hear what they were and how people can find them. 

JY: I have not taken any classes or have had any formal training, I don’t know any of the vocabulary regarding photography, or own any equipment; it has all been trial and error on my part, and the errors don’t ever get published. I think that once when people start experimenting first with angles and lighting, then with editing styles, they can accomplish their desired look. 

ASD: I think it’s encouraging that 5 out of the 6 people I've interviewed so far are not professional photographers and haven’t had any formal training. There is a lot to be said for grabbing a phone, going and finding something interesting, and just practicing. What other advice would you give?

JY: Instead of taking a picture of your friends posing and smiling arm in arm, try to quietly snap a candid one of them that captures the environment and the atmosphere. Treat natural light as your best friend and be sure to maximize as much of it as you can. Look for symmetry (I love it!), or look for asymmetry! Just try something new, and then keep trying new things.

ASD: As you post to Instagram, do you pay much attention to having a feed that has a cohesive look and feel?

JY: I do like to have a feed that goes together. I pay attention to the cohesiveness of my feed as well as others, because a pretty picture may capture my attention, but the feed is what makes me want to stay. Instead of throwing up individual slices of art, think of it like you are producing a whole collection of images. Solitary pieces tell a story, but the entire gallery puts all the stories together and has the power to convey a totally different feeling. When you walk into an art gallery or a home, you get a specific feeling when you see it all together. You don’t just walk into a home and compartmentalize all the pieces and keep the throw separate from the pillow. Those go together, and they likely go with the couch, the rug, the lamps, the wall color, the artwork, etc. That’s how I like to treat my Instagram.

ASD: How has your feed evolved over time?

JY: If you scroll through my page you may catch the different periods of my life. Last spring I was all light and bright, in the summer I was more landscape because I frequented the outdoors a bit more than in the spring. That then turned to a more moody period that had more underlying blue tones, and now, I think I’m utilizing more browns? There are common themes and threads throughout that keep it all together, but when my moods and environments change, so does my art.

ASD: Who do you follow and absolutely love?

JY: Pausing to go look at my IG!

JY: I have a variety of grammers that all speak to my different interests...
  • @linda_lomelino foooooooood and mood that’s how I describe her to people. She’s so awesome.
  • @me_and_orla is super sweet! Her images and changing moods flow with the seasons that she gets in the UK. 
  • @kevinruss feeds my adventure side, and leaves me wondering how in the heck he does it! One weeks he’s camping in Alaska, then back to LA, and bam he’s in Iceland, and then a week later...hello Africa and elephants! 
  • @chrystalgrams is so awesome, she is a rock star mom and ugh, just go to her feed, follow her, and read her captions, she’s so filled with Godly love.
  • @sarahgramz_ is a crack up! Her and her daughters...ugh my heart always explodes when she posts.
Lastly, all of my blogger ladies and FRIENDS that I have through this little app, like you, @laurairion, @danikjohnson (who always showers me with wisdom and thoughts when I need it the most), more recently @kdall070, and @thebigrevealblog who I happily met through you! This app is way more fun when I get to know the women that I have met and we begin to share our stories. Through these ladies, I have felt more than ever the community side of Instagram and I love it!

ASD: I know exactly! It astounds me to be living at a time in history where you can meet people all over the world and be able to genuinely call them friends, even though you’ve never met face to face.

ASD: One day I looked and saw you had like 20K followers- wha?! I don’t know if you’ve always had that many and I just missed it?! How did that happen?

JY: Yeah, that happened last May. Instagram made me a suggested user; I was so stoked and shocked at what was happening! I had to turn off my notifications for a while because they just drained my battery. (I know that you were experiencing all of that too!) I definitely appreciate the sentiment from Instagram.

ASD: Do you know how Instagram found you or why they decided to feature you? Or if you don’t know for sure, do you have a theory?

JY: I do have a theory about how it may have happened, of course. I like to figure things out! I got followed one day by @jeffereydgerson, who I believe is the community manager for the West Coast chapter of Instagram (this is all speculation!) and the next day is when I got the news that I had been chosen to be a suggested user.

ASD: What hashtags do you use? Challenges?

JY: There aren’t any challenges that I participate in regularly with the exception of #foundforaged, now! I would like to find more and get into them, so I look to you for that help! :)

ASD: Actually just this week something dawned on me as a great way to find new ones. OK, so this is a total IG rabbit hole so bear with me. But you know how when you are featured usually they tag you in your picture? I found an account that was gorgeous and had a ton of followers [that flower lady hahahahaha! that flower lady! real specific, Laura (laughing emoji face!)] and I clicked on the photos of her button (upper right button in the main screen of her feed). From there I saw all the pictures of hers that someone else had featured- the vast majority were GREAT accounts that ran hashtag challenges. Because they were regramming from a feed I loved, I automatically knew they were right up my aesthetic alley. So that’s a new way of finding challenges that I can’t wait to dedicate some time to. I’m going to get my pencil and paper out to take notes when I do!

JY: Wait, are you referring to the “Photos of ______” pages?? That’s a smart place to hashtag hunt! I want to start calling you the hashtag hunter!

ASD: Hahaha, yes! [If you have absolutely no idea what we're talking about, start here...]

ASD: Tell me about the RWE hashtag challenge that you just started. The photos in that feed are gorgeous!

JY: I started a hashtag challenge! The challenge is currently based on the writings and thoughts of Ralph Waldo Emerson (early American transcendentalist writer). My first tag is #RWElandscape and it’s based on what he said in his “Nature” essay, I’ll summarize: People can own all the land, but they can never own the landscape. Everytime I read that, I’m like wow, you’re darn right Ralph! Emerson inspires me, so my plan is to introduce a new tag every month (I’m late this month, oops!) that discusses one of his concepts. The tags will be about nature, making things, reformation, just things that I think everyone can relate to. I started off with landscapes because they’re simple and straight-forward, tag a picture of the landscape, any landscape! But there will be more complex ideas, that can be interpreted in dozens of different ways. I’m excited to see how people interpret it! No Emerson quotes are required for a tag, and I love new and old pictures, so really, whatever anyone thinks fits then add the tag to your picture!

ASD: I love the second one, #RWErestore. And that picture you introduced it with- make that my bathroom right now please!

ASD: As an avid user, what advice would you give to brands (big and small) about how they should interact with consumers on Instagram?

JY: I think that brands do a good job advertising their merchandise and purpose on Instagram. I guess it would be nice to see more interaction between businesses and buyers on Instagram; like when someone comments on your image, reply back (Laura, you taught me this, and I’ve tried to adopt it, so this really goes for everyone, not just businesses) that makes the brand more personal and can make someone feel appreciated. I’ll be more likely to buy from someone friendly and responsive rather than the opposite.

ASD: When I first saw your counter-top art, I immediately thought it should be wallpaper and that Anthropologie should make it. (Still waiting for their response to that suggestion, aren’t we, LOL!) But in all seriousness, they should.

JY: Hahahahaha that would really be fun! I recently found a website called Redbubble, where artists can upload their work and then people can buy the work printed on pillows, duvets, phone cases, mugs, tote bags, etc. I uploaded some of my Autotrophotos and now people can buy my work and have it in their homes #insane! You can search for my work there under my username: Jocelynewhy

ASD: That's awesome! And I saw you did a beautiful collaboration for a calendar with artist Ruifan Deng (@rufiaaaan).

ASD: If you could collaborate with one dream brand, who would it be, and why, and what kind of project would you want to work on?

JY: Currently, I would love to collaborate with Juniper Ridge! They go out and make perfumes and incense that they harvest themselves from outdoor excursions. I don’t know what I could contribute to the collaboration… I mostly just want to work with them so I can go on the backpacking trips, and harvest the plants and then make them into soaps, and perfumes and things… ugh they are SO COOL! Call me anytime @juniperridge!!!

ASD: Alright, why have I waited so long to get to this topic?!!? You’re getting married!! Who is the guy and how did you meet him?

JY: I’m getting marrrrrrrried!!! Still so crazy and hard to believe that God gifted me with this man who I get to live the rest of my life with! I’ll try to share this briefly, because as I’m sure you can tell, I have a problem with being concise and I can go on and on about this man! So, Isaac (Zac or @zacmandesign who appears frequently on my IG account) is a graphic design student, scheduled to graduate in the spring! He works with deaf adults that vary with other physical differences, like autism, ushers syndrome, blindness, etc, at a day program that teaches social skills as well as math, money management, English, sign language, everything! He has a big heart for people, and was gifted with an abundance of patience that still shocks me.

JY: We met on New Years Eve (almost two years ago!) at a party on an aircraft carrier. I am friends with his cousin, who invited both of us to this event. The party was all old fashioned with a great jazz band and swing dancing. He asked me to dance with him and I panicked a little because I’m so awkward and shy, and he’s so handsome and cool and a really great dancer! Zac is deaf, and I knew no ASL, except for the alphabet. But we danced, and he was great! After that I immediately took to youtube to learn ASL and we just started hanging out. Communication was really slow at first, but he kept teaching me and I kept learning. He proposed last August in Big Sur and now we’re getting married!!!

ASD: What plans have you made so far and tell me about how the process is going. 

JY: Oh boy wedding planning IS tough! But, we have a location and a date (finally!)! We’ll be getting married in early August in a local regional park in the Bay Area. Actually, you may know the place, it’s close to where you lived when you were newly married--Huddart Park! Does that sound familiar? We will rent one of the large picnic areas with the great long picnic tables, all surrounded by redwood trees. The ceremony will be in a small clearing in the trees right behind the picnic area.

ASD: Blerg, I have the navigational sense of a lemming. All I remember from living there was grass and trees everywhere! What kind of wedding do you hope to have?

JY: Hahahaha, okay, after I travel to Chicago, you can travel to the Bay Area and then it will all come back to you! What I am imagining is something cozy, intimate, and relaxed! With some lights strung up and leaaaaaves! Lots of leaves! Zac and I both love art so we’re thinking of ways to incorporate our work that we have done together and separate so our guests can get to know that side of us. I’m considering just going out the day before and foraging for tons of plants and leaves, then getting my little party of women to help me make arrangements with them! Not sure about throwing flowers into the mix yet, but I’ll go with whatever I’m feeling at the moment! Our “colors” are the colors of the forest, so browns and greens! The ceremony will be majority standing room and will be done all in sign, so I’m really excited about that! 

ASD: Tell me about the amazing photographer you found!

JY: Davin Lindwall is our photographer! And he is so wonderful! The way I found him is kind of funny- so Zac and I took to the internet looking for photographers of reasonable price, but that also had a certain aesthetic. I did not want run of the mill wedding photos. I wanted them to be creative and different, to match my style. Davin and I had been friends on Facebook for what I'm assuming to be a few years, but we never met one another. When I transferred to my current University I realized that Davin went to the same school and his work started popping up on my newsfeed. I contacted him this fall and found out that he graduated and moved back home to Michigan, but that he frequently travels out to California and that a wedding out here would be no problem! Zac and I were happy to book him because we both love his style. When we met him and he shot our engagement photos in October, we fell in love! He and his girlfriend (who assisted him), were really sweet and comfortable to work with, just a dream! Check him out at @davinlindwallphotography.

{photo by Davin Lindwall}

ASD: What are your thoughts about the wedding industry- I know you posted a bit about it one day on IG.

JY: Oh the wedding industry… I apologize ahead of time if I offend any readers that work in this industry...but it just all seems so over inflated and superficial--almost like, insert Bride and Groom’s name here and pop out your very own “unique” wedding day! We are all wanting to make our weddings reflect ourselves and our soon-to-be spouses and I think that’s a good thing, but more times than not, I bet you that the weddings end up matching the outlines that were dictated by society and the industry. I don’t know, I mean, I don’t know all that much about the industry, and every couple’s feelings about it. But why does the average wedding cost so much? And why do we all just say, “Oh yeah, weddings are expensive,” like that’s how they are supposed to be? Our culture settles, ok, 12K for our venue, sure. Oh 1-2K for a wedding dress, sure! I mean, it’s not the designers’ or makers’, fault. It’s the consumers fault for buying into it and inserting their names into the build a wedding workshop. I am opting and aiming to make a wedding day for Zac and I that reflects our values and priorities. It’s going to be humble, intimate, sweet, and dirty (literally...lots of dirt and bugs and plants just picked up off the ground) because that is the way we live now, and the way we want to live in the future. In my mind, why should we throw a party that costs many thousands of dollars if that type of thing does not reflect the way that we wish to live our lives together. Someone said before that we “deserved to have a nice wedding,” after I mentioned wanting to keep the costs down, and I was a bit taken back by that thought process, because it maintains the assumption that a wedding is something that we could earn or that we are entitled to. I don’t want our wedding to be a show or to be cookie cutter. We are going to push many traditions and rules aside. I don’t mind shocking some wedding snobs and folks on our wedding day. Maybe it can be a starting point for some people that never question or challenge society. 

ASD: You’ve been blogging for a long time with your sister (@caitlinnwhy) at How did that begin and evolve?

JY: Yeah, we started that a little more than a year ago now at the request of my sister, Caitlin, and we have since left it to rot the dark alleys of the internet...oops!

ASD: You recently started your own website- Tell me your vision for that.

JY: This website, that one of Zac’s best friends started for me, is so exciting! My vision is for it to be a photo blog where I can explode all of my pictures at once, instead of having to pick and choose a few for Instagram. But it can also be a place where I may ramble about society and things if I feel I need an outlet for that as well. I didn’t have much time or inspiration to do any projects during my school semester. But, this winter break I have had a few little excursions, so I’m stoked to maybe get those up on the website (hopefully I remember how to login! It’s been so long!)

ASD: What are your career goals when you leave school?

JY: Career goals: I don’t really have any at the moment. I have a number of ideas about routes that I may want to take, but it’s hard to say, and what intimidates me the most is declaring something. On the first days of classes my professors like to go around and have everyone introduce themselves and share their post graduation plans. All of these Poli Sci folk say law school, and when it gets to me, I answer “I’m going to get married! And move to the mountains!” hahahahahaha! That’s as far as my plans have gotten. I know I want to make and create, and all of that forever, so if I found a job that tapped into those interests, I would be set. I have an idea! Laura, you can just move back to California and you and I can work together! Great, let’s do it!

ASD: Well, you caught me at a good time. It's March 23rd and snowing here in Chicago today. So it's tempting...

ASD: OK, this is it. Last and most important question: Coffee or tea?

JY: Coffeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Tea is okay every once and a while, but it just doesn’t have enough substance for me!

ASD: I knew I liked you!


Thank you again, lovely friend, for sharing your heart and mind with me and the readers of Avery Street Design. It was so fun to get to know you more!

I hope you’ll take a moment to find & follow Jocelyne on Instagram. I know you’ll love her- and tell her I sent you!


  1. Loove the time & energy you put into your posts. Now I have to check out this account - and the N1 filter ;-)

    1. Yes, N1, do it! It's my little white IG secret!

  2. I think I first discovered Jocelyne through #foundforaged and I am so thankful. I am in love with her photos and her spirit! Thank you for giving us a peek into the beautiful woman behind the pictures. (I love this series, Laura!)

    1. Grace! Awwwww you are the sweetest! Thank you! I'm so happy for foundforaged, it brings people together! great job ladies!!

  3. Loved this interview! Fun to get to know other grammers behind the scenes.

  4. Jocelyne!!! Awesome interview. I love her Instagram feed. She absolutely amazes me with her creativity. It's pure genius. I too am so thankful for #foundforaged and meeting this sweet human being. Her energy shows through in all of her posts and comments. I love the bajiggetty out of her. I think you me and Grace need to crash her wedding. =)

    1. Awwwwwwww! Kyla, my darling dear! I love you! and your instagram! and I'm obsessed with you grace, and laura! You three changed the game by creating foundforarged, so thank so much, because it led me to you! And YES, wedding, come! we can call it an instameet!!!


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