Browsing Tag


Going Home | +Jo

::Photo and text by +Jo::

I’ve mentioned before I only go home once a year. It also says on my bio page that my parents are two of my closest friends. So why do I travel to Arkansas one time out of the 365 days of a year?





The habit started while I was at SCAD. The first year I attended I traveled every break but I wore myself out and never had any down time between the quarters. Plus, it cost a lot for me to go back and forth as much as I would have liked. I became complacent to the idea I would go home only for the holidays. There have been a couple exceptions to this concept. One was the death of my Uncle James. The other was to help my family patch up old problems.

Yeah, I just put that out there.

Family is always a complicated subject – for anyone – and mine is no exception. We have our problems and we’ve fought through a lot together. All of us and some of us. Some days I want to give up on my family. Some days I cry because I feel I ran away from them all when I was needed the most. Some days I want to call up members to check up on them. Some days I want to rip them a new one. But all the days in the year are saved up for the one trip home.

And durning the travel time I remember why I love my family so much. And why I go home once a year. I need the space to understand them. I need the time to cherish the slim moments I have with them. I ran away to art school following a dream and willing myself not to live the same life as so many do back home.

There are many things my family doesn’t understand about me. I didn’t leave to join the military {like the others}. I left for art. Opposite agendas. I do not want children. I don’t particularly want to get married unless it is an equal opportunity event. I love to “play pretend” on stage and screen. I love to paint. I love to photograph. I love to create. So why don’t I do that back home where I would be closer to everyone? Why can’t I create there? Because I would be too close and too distracted. I would be more involved in mending broken ties. I would be in the middle of family drama that will always be there. I would become caught up in a different life style than what I want to lead.

This probably sounds terribly harsh… and it is not intended that way.

– I think I finally caught up on rest. Family can really wear you out. 😀 #life
Lee Ann -  Imagine living near us!!!!
Jo - Believe me – I understand. I have to build up for an entire year. Lol!
Lee Ann - A lump dose of family. Like ripping off a bandaid. I totally get it. 😉

My family is something very precious and dear to me. Though they fight, bicker, hold grudges and don’t speak – I love them all for these characteristics. For their eccentricities. For their merits and faults, equally. I would not be -me- if I did not have each and every one of my family members in my life. I would not have the life I do if it wasn’t for every conscious, unconscious, spiteful, and loving actions to me and one another. I wish everyone got along better. I wish I could help them all patch things up. But life isn’t as easy as that. Everyone has their reasons for behaving the way to do. There are things I do not know nor understand that has lead each individual to be the person they have become. I stay away because at the end of any day I want to keep the naive notions I had when I was twelve that everyone loved everyone for exactly who they are. That blood is thicker than water. Family always comes first.

We have a new member in our family. I did not mention in my last post – but LeeAnn is my cousin. So baby Joelle is my little cousin and will grow within a loving home with so many people that care for her. There are no doubts about that. I spent so much time with LeeAnn and Nick while I was in Arkansas with the three photoshoots I did with them. Yet, I still made my rounds and saw 90% of the people I wanted to see. Even a couple that might not want to see me – I still saw and gave loving hugs.

I had a lovely dinners with family, friends, Eric and my parents. I shared early holiday presents. I did plenty of shopping with my mom and fired guns with my father. We decorated for Christmas time and shared a lot of hot coco. I showed Eric off to the family who had never met him and took a nap almost every day. {The people who are close to me understand ‘nap’ is a rare thing to hear our of me.}  Eric taught my father how to cook traditional Tai Cuisine and my father made us his infamous spagetti when we first arrived in town at 1:00am. My two cats {who traveled with us} didn’t want to leave by the end of our stay. I took photos, but not nearly enough. I was busy seeing the people I only see once a year.

Art stops for my family.

{ <3 <3 }



Joelle’s Birth by +Jo | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

– Posted by +Jo

A few months back I was contacted by LeeAnn about doing a maternity shoot in Arkansas. Eventually, through many texts and emails, it was decided there would be maternity, birth and new born sessions. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

Man was this crazy to plan. And timing had to be just right.

I go home to Arkansas once a year and this year’s window was even slimmer because my boyfriend traveled with me. We were really lucky he received a week off from work and only had a short amount of time we would be in the state. I read up on the birth of the first child to understand what I was getting myself into. It also help me know what to expect out of LeeAnn and her husband. As her final weeks drew near she would update me more and more on her OB appointments and progression. The week before I left for Arkansas she started to have prodromal contractions. Right on cue – the same thing happened with her first child. Everyday I would check in – LeeAnn would give me numbers or let me know if things were good. Finally, I made it into town. We were all on edge and I did the maternity session within 24 hours of arriving in the state.

       They have such a cute little family. And they were about to gain one more. Did I mention – she wanted a henna tatto on her belly? Yup. So, I gave here a design we put together. It wasn’t as dark as either of us hoped, but she was happy to have it for the photos.

Once that was checked off the list, the waiting continued. I was worried after a couple days had gone by and nothing much had changed. Her contractions were a little more intese but would let up by the evening. But luck was on our side.

Tuesday night my boyfriend came down with a bug and I was up late making sure he was okay. I don’t know when I fell asleep but at 5:52 am I received a call from LeeAnn’s husband, Nick. She was in full labor and they were heading to Birth Works. Last time she labored for a few hours at the clinic before she was taken to the hospital for the final part of labor. I thought about the time it takes into Little Rock and early morning traffic. I also thought about how comfy bed was at that particular moment. Finally the thought of missing the birth drove me out of bed and into the bathroom. I was brushing my teeth when I received a text from Nick at 6:07 am: “Headed to the hospital in just a few minutes.” They live in the town next to my parents and I knew it would be a 20-30 minute drive into Little Rock. ‘Hospital’ meant LeeAnn was progressing faster in her labor than everyone was expecting. I spat out the toothpaste and went into high gear. I fought with my clothes and almost ran out the door without shoes. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

At 6:49am I was parking my car at the hospital. I made it up to the delivery floor with another text saying “Room 5 in L&D.” What was not mentioned was the locked door that could only be opened by calling the nurses on a specific phone on the wall. I was not awake enough and it felt like I spent 10 minutes trying to get through the one door. It wasn’t really… it was the adrenaline screwing with my head. I made it through and waltzed into the labor room. LeeAnn was on all fours, moaning loudly (not screaming), and the baby was crowning. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

I stared. Uncontrollably.

Then a part of my brain punched the crap out of the other part and I thew down my coat, scarf and yanked out my camera from my bag. The night before I had done long exposure night photography. I switched the settings with out thinking about what I was doing. I turned around and started snapping pictures. No warm up. No cordial hellos. No prepping the mom, dad and hospital staff. Just GO. I shot everything on my 35mm prime and the lens it quite loud. The nurses gave me some nasty looks with the first couple pictures. I simply said “I’m here for them… I’ll hide in a corner.” | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

The doctor barely got his gloves and apron (thingy) on before Joelle broke into the world. I have no clue how I feel about what I saw. It’s not the first birth I’ve seen. It was the first human birth. I don’t know how I looked… I’m sure I was making all sorts of faces. It was surreal… the camera was my eyes. What I saw is what I captured. I didn’t want to have my opinion, presumptions, life choices or history effect the photos. I wanted to capture exactly what I saw. The simple truth of Joelle’s birth. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

She came into the world with a head full of dark hair. She came into the world quiet and loud. She came into the world with two of the most loving parents. She came into the world via a mother who insisted on it being completely natural – no IVs, no epidural – just her and mother nature. She came into the world to a proud father and a kind brother. She came into this world loved completely.

At 6:57am on December 14th, 2011, Joelle Rose was born.

It was raw beauty. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes

I was so honored so be apart of this moment. When I finally sat down, I realized I was the first person to take Joelle’s picture. That simple concept took my breath away. How silly – of all things? Out of the millions of photos she will appear in across her lifetime… I took the very first one. | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo Arellanes | Atlanta Newborn Baby Photographer | Birth Photographer | Jo ArellanesI photographed life.

Damn. I want to do that again.