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!

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!


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