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: May 2008

A Relaxed Family Portrait Session (my favorite kind!)

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Jake and Addie, their parents, grandmother, and two older cousins. I love this family! We did the entire session in the backyard, and as you can see, it was casual, relaxed, and very joyful.

I got some great shots of the adults, but decided to focus on the children in this post.

We started out with the girls, aren’t they gorgeous?

I’d like to point out that I did NO prompting whatsoever with these sisters, aside from telling them where to sit. The love was just there…

The Love was everywhere, actually…

This is Jake. He and Dino have been spending time together at Laurie’s house for almost 2 years now. Dino is crazy about Jake and was sad that he couldn’t come along on Saturday, although he has been enjoying these images!

And here is Jake’s big sister, the adorable Addie.

I just love this series (again, no prompting, just love…)

Nani is fun to be around, I can tell!

The definition of a relaxed portrait.

Elisabeth (and everyone in these photos), Thank you so much for having me! It was an honor to be around your beautiful family and to photograph so much Love in action…you guys are amazing!

Still having fun…

I’ve been having so much fun experimenting with Jesh De Rox’s fine art textures! Here are a couple of recent images that I’ve been trying things out on. I’ve posted both the before and after images.

It is such fun to experiment. Back to work, more later!

A day of firsts

I finally did it! I took our almost 4 year old to get a proper haircut on Friday.

Pat has been pleading with me for months, saying that a once peaceful bath time has been reduced to a wrestling match. Because Pat is usually in charge of the bath routine, I scoffed at the notion that Konstandino’s hair was too long and blamed Pat’s Irish heritage. I mean, people with pin-straight hair just don’t understand the essence of curly hair and how to comb it properly…

And then I gave him a bath last week for the first time in a few months. It had been 24 hours since his last bath and dreadlocks were already forming. Note to self: never try to comb out dreadlocks. Chaos ensued and the very next day I found myself begging my hair stylist, Mary for an appointment.

Mary at Azhar Hair design in downtown Santa Cruz is so awesome. I had an art show at Azhar a few years ago and we traded a photograph for a cut. I’ve been hooked ever since. As everyone out there with curly hair knows, someone who can cut it well is a total find! So, given that Kosta has inherited my Greek curly hair, I knew that Mary was our gal. Of course, I had to bring my camera along in order to document the occasion!

This shot cracks me up! I cannot even count the times that I’ve sat in a chair not unlike this one with this exact expression on my face.

Thanks to Mary, my expressions are more like this one now.

The fabulous Mary working her magic.

Another satisfied customer.

I was worried that with the haircut, the curls would be lost forever, but apparently I was mistaken. The haircut is awesome! It is still curly and a bit wild and shaggy, but much more manageable. Pat did the bath time honors for the first time last night and said that Mary deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.

If any of my brides (or any brides, or anyone else for that matter) are looking for an awesome hair stylist for their wedding day, or just a great everyday cut, give Mary at Azhar a call: (831) 426-6334.

After the haircut, we walked over to Marini’s on Pacific Ave. and celebrated with an icecream cone. This was his first icecream cone ever!

I could not resist a cone either, so I was shooting these one-handed, cone in one hand and camera in the other. (Photographers: these last two images were post-processed with some of Jesh De Rox’s fine art textures, which I love!)

As always, thanks for checking in! I wish you all a wonderful weekend.

Jesh De Rox Fine Art Textures

I’m so excited because I’ve just purchased the most awesome textures from the amazing Jesh De Rox, a wedding photographer from Canada. I heard Jesh speak at WPPI in March and was so heartened to hear about his sincere approach to wedding photography. Instead of posing his couples as if they’re modeling for a fashion magazine, he says that he shows up at each wedding as if he has never seen one before and tries to capture the true emotions and essence of the couple. I love this approach and have always tried to do the same thing. I want my images to capture the actual moment. The true and honest and real moment. What is more beautiful than that?

Anyhow, I stayed up late, watched Jesh’s instructional video, and played around with some textures using images from Megan and Danny’s wedding last July. Here are my first attempts at using them:

I love this image because we were just getting set up for family portraits and I was getting myself situated and waiting to direct Megan’s family as to where to stand. They were waiting around and had no idea that I snapped this. I added three different textures here. I love the way that the textures enhance this already romantic scene, one of their first moments alone as a married couple…

Here is the kiss with three or four (I lost count) textures.

The same image converted to black and white. Note to photographers: there are over 30 textures to choose from, so the possibilities are endless. Best of all, they are insanely easy to use!

Megan and Danny had a Celtic Hand-Tying ritual in their wedding ceremony. Again, I layered a few different textures in order to achieve this effect.

They were pretty eager to join their guests and they took off running to the dance floor when the portrait session was over. I snapped the next two as they ran off.

I love the rich and timeless look that the textures give this one.

OK, It’s 1:25 AM and I’m off to bed. I’ll be sharing more adventures with Jesh’s textures again soon. Before I sign off, I’d like to share his website: It is worth a look (even if you’re not a photographer or looking for a photographer). Check it out, you’ll be glad that you did! Photographers, to learn more about or to purchase these textures, CLICK HERE. I love and appreciate it when artists share their knowledge and talents…peaceful dreams, everyone!

50 mm 1.2 = True Love

Ever since I went digital a few years ago, I’ve really missed shooting with a 50 mm lens. I learned how to shoot manually for the very first time using a 50mm lens years ago when I was shooting film and developing everything in the darkroom. I grew to absolutely love the 50mm approach as it is closest to how the eye actually sees things. I loved the powerful, poignant, and simple statement that the 50mm made and the way that it honestly and clearly depicted the world around me.

When I saw that Canon had come out with a 50mm f1.2, I knew that it had to be mine some day. So, I continued dreaming of that day…Well, thanks to a nice gift from my dear Uncle Sam last month, my 50mm 1.2 showed up on my doorstep last Saturday. I was like a kid on Christmas morning, grinning ear to ear as I opened the box. I put it on my camera where it has stayed for over a week now.

Here is my week through the 50mm f1.2 (I think I’m in love)…

The lens showed up just a few hours before we took off for the Monterey Bay Aquarium last Saturday. My awesome clients Jenn and Carter gave me tickets to the aquarium last week as a “bribe” in order to entice me to drive to Monterey and sign some images that I took of their family before they were framed at Aaron Bros.

Needless to say, the bribe worked (thanks, Jenn and Carter!)

These are literally my first two shots with the lens and are straight out of the camera. It was pretty dark inside the aquarium, but at 1.2 there was plenty of light to work with.

We brought our cousin Conor from Dublin, Ireland along. He was in town for business all week and it was so awesome having him around. He is so incredibly chill and easy to be around. He was quite a hit with the little guy as well.

During the week we went to one of our favorite places, Wilder Ranch. I brought the new lens along to document the sights:

A hungry rooster.

A mildly annoyed sheep.

A cool pair of Chucks.

An imaginary train ride, complete with a conductor.

A new accomplishment.

Life just as my eyes see it.

And a few family snapshots…

Over the weekend we headed up to San Francisco and met up with our niece Claire. She’s a student at SF State and lives in the Richmond District, just 2 blocks from where I lived ten years ago!

Isn’t she adorable? I just love her new haircut!

Before I get reported for child endangerment, I’d like to point out that this image was taken in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, which is closed off to traffic on weekends. We had to show Claire our new moves.

Conor and Claire.

Conor, Pat, and Dino (or Kosta in Greek) before Conor’s departure. We hope that he has work in the Bay Area again soon!

I have some portrait sessions coming up this week and definitely plan on giving the 50 1.2 a whirl! I’ll let you know how it goes.