jo ann manolis photography

Welcome to the blog of Jo Ann Manolis Photography! I’m a wedding, portrait, and fine art photographer based in Santa Cruz, CA. I’ve created this blog as a means of sharing my work and life with my clients, family, and friends. I’ll be updating it regularly with my latest work, thoughts and ideas regarding photography and art, and links to many fabulous artists and vendors. So, take a look around, enjoy, and leave me a message here if you’re inspired. I can also be reached directly by e-mail via my website:, or by phone at: (831)359-7948. Thanks for stopping by!

Monthly Archives: April 2008

Aza at Cayuga Vault

I’m still catching up on my blogging, and definitely could not skip this one, I absolutely love these guys!

After Kim and Steve’s wedding in Aptos a few weeks ago, I stopped home to eat dinner and switch some lenses, and then headed to Santa Cruz to photograph Fattah and Mohamed’s performance at the Cayuga Vault. As always, they did not disappoint, leaving the audience completely mesmerized.



The show took place at the fabulous Cayuga Vault in Santa Cruz. I love it when a venue perfectly compliments the music. Cayuga Vault offered a warm and intimate setting for this traditional and heartfelt show.

The captive audience. I love the woman dancing on the left.

Both Fattah and Mohamed donned traditional Amazigh clothing and played music from their latest album. Part of their ongoing efforts as musicians is to raise awareness of their native Amazigh (Indigenous people of Northern Africa) culture.

I was going for a vintage feel on these. There is something about this image that I absolutely love.

Fattah and Mohamed invited their Aza bandmates onto the stage for the last few songs. I have photographed these guys a few times before and it was really nice to see and hear them again.

Pete on bass:

Kevin the percussionist:

A fisheye view of so much amazing talent on one stage.

Fattah weaves humor, history, and personal stories into his song introductions. His amazing rapport with the audience is always obvious.

This image of Mohamed was shot at a nice slow shutter speed. I love action blur.

For me, this image captures the pure joy of making music. As a photographer, there is no greater gift or honor than the opportunity to capture people being themselves and doing what they love.

To learn more about Aza, check out their schedule of upcoming performances, or to purchase one of their CD’s, visit their website:

Fattah, Muhamad, Aza, and Diane: Thank you for having me. Words cannot express how much I loved being present for this awesome performance. You guys are just amazing! Thank you also to the wonderful staff at Cayuga Vault for their warm welcome.

Holga Love

I will never forget the first time that I saw a Holga image. It was several years ago in the Cabrillo College Photo Lab and it literally took my breath away.

The artist, a 19 year old kid named Matt turned beet-red when I asked him if I could buy the print. He stammered and then said that I could buy it after the semester ended as it was part of his final project (he got an A). I’m embarrassed to admit that he sold it to me for $40. It was worth more. Much, much more.

I framed it and gave it to Pat for our third Anniversary. The best $40 I’ve ever spent. The image, taken out of the passenger window of a car, showed the road ahead, and in the rear view mirror, captured everything behind the car. It directly transported me back to the first roadtrip that Pat and I took together in the Sierra Nevadas. We spent two filthy weeks camping, mountain biking, bathing in streams, and eating bad pizza. We had only known each other for a few months, but that trip changed everything.

For me, the road in that photograph represented our lives. Where we had been, where we were at that moment, and where we would be going. It somehow put our eight years together in perfect perspective. I could see our countless road trips, bliss, sadness, struggles, marriage, a child, and an unknown but hopeful future all in that one photograph.

It was eerie, almost. How this stranger’s photograph so perfectly paralleled what I was feeling. It wasn’t just the subject matter that resonated with me, it was the feel of the entire image.

Enter: Holga

The Holga is a cheap ($14 to be exact) plastic medium format camera that takes mysteriously imperfect yet beautiful photographs. Very little sharpness, automatic vignetting, and strange light leaks (I have masking tape all over mine to prevent leaks, although some people love the effect of the leaks) make it unpredictable, nostalgic, and very unique.

I can’t explain exactly why Holga images stir something deep inside of me, but they just do. Maybe it’s because, unlike most photography today, there is nothing technical about them. Instead of perfect exposures and crispy-sharp subjects, the Holga captures the feeling of the image, which in my opinion is worth much more.

Here is a Holga shot of Kosta with his buddy Zade at the beach last summer. I’m not sure, but I think that the dot on the left is Zade’s older brother on his surfboard.

My new endeavor is to start carrying my Holga around with me on a regular basis. I’ll be posting some of these images here on my blog. Thanks for stopping by and letting me ramble on about something that is so close to my heart…

Another post on its way tomorrow!

Back at it!

My Blogging capabilities are back! As many of you know, I’ve been unable to add images to my posts for a couple of weeks now, and as a photographer, this has been well, let’s just say a bit frustrating. After battling my computer (almost throwing it out the window on numerous occasions) and spending way too many hours on troubleshooting forums to no avail, I finally got in touch with Nick at WordPress, who rectified my issues.

Nick, thank you, you are awesome!

His solution??? Try a different browser. So, I tried it knowing that the issue just had to be far more complex than that…uh, well, I was yeah, wrong. OK, so Photoshop aside, my computer skills leave a bit (or a lot of bits) to be desired. Thank Goodness for people like Nick is all I have to say.

I do not have the words to describe the state of bliss that I am experiencing at the moment. Here is my best description of my current state:

I have a long list of “things to blog” and thus will be doing quite a bit of catch-up blogging within the next couple of weeks, so check in again soon. Yee-Haw!!!!!!

Hang in there!

The good people of WordPress are actively looking into my image-posting issues and this problem should be resolved soon! So, thank you for visiting and hang in there, new images will be up soon!

Blog issues…

To my Dear and Wonderful Blog Readers,
For some reason (and I am told that it is being worked on) I, along with many other wordpress bloggers, am unable to post images on my blog at this time. I have so much to share, but I really dislike blogging without images…it just feels all wrong! So, please hang in there and I’ll be playing a mean game of catch-up just as soon as this issue gets resolved. Thanks for visiting and for your amazing patience!


Blue Apple Studios: Class this Friday.

A reminder to Blue Apple artists and their parents: The last Polaroid Transfer class of the session will take place this coming Friday (April 11th) at the usual time. Please bring any mixed media materials that you’d like to use for your final project. I will have everyone’s slides ready. I look forward to seeing all of you again and can’t wait to see your finished projects…see you on Friday!

I’ll be posting images of the artist’s final projects early next week, so check back!

Kim and Steve Get Hitched! (Aptos Wedding Photography)

Congratulations to Kim and Steve who joined hands on Saturday in Aptos, CA. Here are some images of their day:


All brides are beautiful, but every once in a while I luck out and get to photograph an unusually stunning one…

…both inside and out!

The girls getting ready, I love preparation shots.

A few details before the ceremony:



The Handsome Groom.

And The Gorgeous Bride. She never stopped smiling.

Do they make these shoes in my size and if so, where can I get a pair???

The ceremony was set to some really lovely music.

Kim made sure that these flowers were at the ceremony. They symbolized the presence of her sister-in-law’s beautiful spirit.

I love everything that is going on in the background of this image.

The Kiss.


One of my favorite moments of the day was when Steve’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Alex toasted her Dad and Kim. Her words were incredibly heartfelt, honest, and well delivered.

Everyone else seemed to agree.


Just a few of the beautiful children in attendance:





And finally, the Newlyweds. They were both so easygoing and really fun to photograph. I just love the next two images.

Posing was not necessary for these two, as you can see.

Kim and Steve, thank you for having me! It was an honor and a privilege being with you and your family. Your happiness together is contagious, may it spread everywhere!

Also, I wanted to send a special “Thank You” to my good friend, the wonderful and talented Kendra for recommending me to Kim and Steve!