Browsing Tag


retro | intro -spective | by +Elaine

I’ve have lots of names. lainie, e, shorty, laine brain, nain. and now I’m +elaine. and I like it.

getting an updated portfolio together had me sifting through all my intern shoots. and reviewing what I had in my portfolio before. hard to believe there was even a time in my photography life before my leahandmark internship. it’s amazing to see where I was with my skills and knowledge and experience then. and where I am now.

before, I was hired for the occasional gig, but mostly I just showed up everywhere with my camera. parties, the pool, backyard concerts, school events, playdates, parks. but now my work is filled with babies and children and couples and drag queens. product shoots of granola and books and headbands and dresses and shoes and bread and houses.people new to the country, or on stage speaking or rocking out, or getting married, or breaking boards.models crouched in trunks and strutting on runways and posing in rotted out buses and old trains. so much cooler.

I look back on my “before the internship” work and my “during” work, and now that I’m in the “after” phase, I can’t wait to see what what my portfolio will be filled with next.

with a new role as a + at comes a new blog location. no longer in the intern section, mark told +krista, +mishaun and me to (re)introduce ourselves. coming up with 200 pictures to whittle down to 20 for our portfolios, posting a blog and showcasing our work… all of this reminds me of the incredulity I felt the first night as an intern when mark told us we had to have 20 images and a blog up by that monday morning. 20 IMAGES! it seemed a ridiculous amount and there was no way I had that many images that were good enough. and just like then, once I got a grip and settled down to work, I find I have more than enough pictures I’m happy to use to fill my portfolio and to post on the blog as I introduce myself. again.

so hi, I’m + elaine, and I’m happy you’re here. now let’s get shooting.

Wednesday by Leah: It’s Like Pooping

So I know I already wrote about my homebirth experience, and talked a little about what labor and birth were like… but now that I’m out of that initial post-birth haze, I thought I’d share a bit more about what giving birth actually FELT like. And really, it felt like pooping. So much so that I was convinced my child was coming out of the wrong opening! I never had that ring of fire that so many women describe…maybe cuz I was giving birth in water, I don’t know… for me, giving birth was like having a 20 lb (ok, really a 7 lb) bowling ball come out of my butt. Except BabyRoX didn’t come out of my butt. To this day, I would swear that he did, though! That’s how much it felt like pooping!

Y’all…I wasn’t going to write this post. Mark said I should, though. I’m not trying to be gross. But I do wish someone had sat me down before I gave birth and told me this. I was told that I should push like I was having a bowel movement. I was also told that many women get hung up on their fear of actually pooping during birth. (And I didn’t think I would be one of those women!) But I was NOT told that giving birth feels like taking the biggest dump of your life, and I think if I had been told that, I would’ve pooped out my sweet baby a lot faster! But I kept waiting to feel him coming out of my vagina. And instead all I felt was intense pressure in my rectum. I was convinced that I couldn’t give birth until I pooped. I mean, I thought I really needed to poop first and then I could have my baby. So I kept sitting on the toilet trying to poop…only I was really trying to give birth, and I didn’t know it! Finally my wonderful doula and midwife convinced me that I really just needed to push the baby out and YES that intense pressure on my rectum was normal and YES the baby really is about to come and NO I don’t need to worry about pooping anymore.

Cutest poop in the world!

I didn’t think I was going to be worried about pooping. But I also didn’t realize just how much giving birth would feel like having a bowel movement! I also thought that by the time I was ready to push out my baby, I wouldn’t care if I pooped or not… I thought I would be so out of it, or in so much pain that nothing mattered, or in such a deeply relaxed state that the baby would just slide out and I wouldn’t have a care in the world. I had an amazingly relaxed labor, but when it came time to push, I wasn’t in that trance-like state. I also wasn’t in such pain that I stopped caring about anything else. I was very much aware of the feeling of needing to poop, and very averse to doing that with everyone around me, and completely unaware that the poop-feeling was my baby coming out. So I’m giving the rest of y’all a heads up – when you are nearing the end of your labor and you feel like you need to poop, YOUR BABY IS COMING! Got it? Good. Happy baby pooping!


Wednesday by Leah: Delayed Cord Clamping

It’s standard practice at most hospitals to clamp and cut the umbilical cord very soon after the baby is born. This practice was likely started because you can’t move the baby very far from the mother when the cord is still attached – especially if the placenta has not yet been delivered, which can take up to 30ish minutes after the baby comes out. So no putting the baby under the warmer, cleaning the baby off, weighing/swaddling/etc.We elected to delay cord clamping and cutting. Instead, we waited for the cord to finish transferring blood from the placenta to BabyRoX.

What happens when the cord is cut within 30 seconds of birth? The iron-rich blood in the placenta, which takes a few minutes to transfer to the baby, now has no way of getting to where it is needed. Delaying cord clamping increases the baby’s blood volume by up toone-third (1/3), which helps prevent anemia. Higher iron stores have been found even 3 months after birthin infants whose cord clamping was delayed.

Routine hospital practices are slow to change, but it IS starting to happen as evidence of the benefits of delayed cord clamping mounts.Says one OB/GYN: If the burden of proof is on us to prove that immediate clamping is good, that burden is clearly not met. And furthermore, there is strong evidence that delaying clamping as little as 30 seconds has measurable benefits for the infant, especially in premature babies and babies born to iron deficient mothers.”

Also, here’s a great video that shows why delayed cord clamping is helpful:

Obviously, each parent must make decisions based on what they feel is best/healthiest for their child. Will a child be seriously harmed by immediate cord clamping? Most likely the answer is no. But why routinely do something that denies a child certain health benefits from the get-go? Furthermore, unless you actively research birth, routine practice, and BEST practice, you wouldn’t even know to ASK for delayed cord clamping at the birth of your child.

What special requests did you/will you make for the birth of your child? What surprised you about your prenatal, labor, and delivery experience?


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.


Wednesday by Leah: Pregnancy Reading List

I am a total information junkie. Plus I think it’s important to be informed about huge life-altering events and to know one’s options… and I think it’s equally important to limit my intake of negative, fear-based information and up my intake of positive, empowering information. So here’s a list of the books I’ve read that I recommend for pregnant women and those who love them:

Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth- if you only read one book about birth, pick this one. It’s a mixture of information about what happens during labor and how to have a good childbirth experience, coupled with positive birth stories and some info about the history of childbirth.

Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife- interesting autobiography of a California midwife with lots of awesome birth stories woven in!

Atlanta Family Portrait Photographer - Wednesday by Leah

Diary of a Midwife- similar to Baby Catcher. This one is the autobiography of a Virginia-based midwife, also with lots of great birth stories.

YOU: Having a Baby- by the famous Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen. Good basic info about pregnancy and birth, although a bit cheesy. The doctors present balanced information and cover multiple sides of issues such as testing in pregnancy, vaccinations, etc. I liked how this book incorporated both the mainstream medical approach, the more natural approach, and listed the doctors’ own decisions which were somewhere in the middle.

The Birth Partner- Great book for all birth partners, but also a good read for the pregnant woman herself! Goes through the stages of labor in-depth and the different paths that labor can take, as well as ways to cope with contractions, support the laboring woman, and questions to ask if labor takes an unexpected turn and you are faced with making some quick decisions.

Birth Matters: A Midwife’s Manifesta- also by Ina May Gaskin, this book is a comprehensive overview of the history of childbirth, how birth experiences impact women and their loved ones, ways the current health care system is failing women (and the available alternatives that women might not know about), and well thought-out suggestions for improving maternity care both in the U.S. and around the world. The book also has empowering birth stories that I like to re-read as my own labor approaches!

I’ve read a number of other books, too, but these are the top ones I’d recommend. I’d love to hear your suggestions, too!


This shot above was featured on OffBeat Mama yesterday.

I brought along Intern Paralee on this maternity/family session a few weeks ago. Natasha is actually a very good friend of Megan and Paul – who we photographed a few weeks earlier for their own maternity session (and just last week we photographed their newborn baby Scotty). Megan and Natasha are about a month apart and Megan just gave birth last week. So that means Natasha’s due… today. No, wait. I don’t really know when she’s due – but it’s got to be soon right?

Look at my photographic powers! I can make hyper little dogs stand still and pose for me!

We spent this past weekend in Nashville, TN. – celebrating our 1 year wedding anniversary! – so we’ve got lots of photo shoots lined up, and lots of editing. This week is going to be packed.

Check out the rest of Natasha’s set in Photo Gallery – Here.


See the Preview Set Here.

We’ve been photographing many more babies lately – and I’ll admit – that’s great! Because Leah’s got baby fever! and like an addict it helps her um. cravings? No, that’s not the right term. But you know what I mean 🙂

Still – one of the best things about this whole photography gig is that we get to share moments in people’s lives – personal moments – and that’s what I really find interesting. Sure I like to photograph models and play with crazy light schemes – but when you strip away all of the fun gear, and you’re left with just your camera – your most important job is to just find some moments to capture.

The thing about being invited into people’s homes is that it’s tricky. We’re there to photograph them and their children – but at the same time that we’re doing everything we can to make them comfortable, we’re also trying to make them act like we’re not there. Because even when the kids are going wild and falls down, or the baby’s crying hysterically – there’s a moment where the parent is comforting the child and a kind of stillness takes over, where there really isn’t anyone else around except them. Even if it’s just for a second or two while the mother is looking into the eyes of the crying child and the child looks back, waiting for the mom to say what she says that makes it all better.

Or when a baby won’t stop crying except for when his father holds him, walking in circles around the house, over and over again.


Zack & Rachel + Adam

Click Here for the Preview Gallery.

Our friends Zack and Rachel just had their first baby – an adorable little boy named Adam. In spite of the haze and delirium of the first few weeks of parenthood, they invited us over to meet their new addition and take all the photos our hearts desired. Pretty awesome, huh? Little did they know that by opening their home to us, they were also inviting Mark to completely rearrange their furniture and deconstruct their newly set-up nursery. My polite GRITS-ness (Girl Raised In The South, y’all) was not totally ok with this arrangement. I cringed and apologized to Rachel as we hauled the armchair and changing table out of the nursery and into the living room.

She laughed, shrugged, and said it was fine. I don’t know if that was the sleeplessness talking, or if she really meant it, but one thing I’ve learned after the past many months of photography with Mark is that when he gets a vision of the shot he wants, there is absolutely no stopping him. None at all. It is futile to try to dissuade him from his pursuit, as I discovered when he hauled our friend Addy on his back down a steep, gravelly hill to a creek bed. It’s best if I just hush up and move the furniture. So move it, I did.

And I’m glad I did. Because I’ve also learned that when Mark gets a vision of the shot he wants, he usually gets that shot, and it’s usually something pretty awesome. Plus, not only did I get to move furniture, I also got to move Baby Adam, and that means I got to hold Baby Adam and smell his precious, lovely baby-ness and touch his soft little baby skin, and Baby is a drug I am totally addicted to at the moment. So I got my fix, and Mark got his. And Adam was a jolly good sport the whole time we clicked away with our cameras and moved him from one position or piece of furniture to the next.

So, congrats Zack and Rachel! Adam is a handsome little man and we look forward to more photo shoots with your beautiful family. Maybe some outside ones, so we don’t rearrange your whole house. (Also, I hope we put your nursery back together satisfactorily! I think we might have put the changing table back in the wrong direction…)

Click Here for the Preview Gallery.

Welcome to the World

Welcome, little Ziya. You were born on the afternoon of December 5, and being there to greet you as you made your grand appearance was one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life. Your mother is a warrior woman – she danced, bounced, and breathed her way through 11.5 hours of labor without any pain medication, and she gave birth to you a lot faster than the nurses or midwife expected her to! Your father was there with her every step of the way and they are so thrilled that you are finally here out in the world with all of us.

Your name means Splendor, Light, Glow, and you are indeed a glowing light. You are beautiful, with the softest dark brown hair I’ve ever felt, and a cute little nose that scrunches up when you are curious or hungry. More than anything, you are very, very loved by so many people. We’ll have lots of adventures in the years to come, so get some rest, drink some milk, and let your sweet light shine.