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!

Mary and her Kids {Santa Cruz Relaxed Family Portraits/ Seabright Beach Family Portraits}

It was almost exactly three years ago when we had our first family portrait session. Pat and I, with our one-year-old in tow, headed to one of the most gorgeous beaches in California for what was perhaps one of the most uncomfortable hours we’ve ever spent on the beach, ever. As we all sat like mannequins and offered our cheesiest smiles, I kept glancing over at the family next to us. Glancing longingly that is. They were running around on the beach, swatting each other with kelp, and laughing from their guts. You know, the kind of laugh that makes you gasp for your next breath. Forget longing, I was flat out jealous.

At this point my portrait business was a pipe dream and not much more, but as it was born and began to grow, I never forgot the feeling that I had that evening as the sun was setting over the cliffs. Now do not get me wrong, the images turned out very nice. My in-laws have them in frames in their living room and all is well.

The only problem is that the memory of the experience itself was tainted for both Pat and myself. Although the beach is our second home, this particular experience made us feel trapped and uneasy. When I started planting the seeds for my portrait business, I vowed to never do this to anyone. It is so funny, the way that unpleasant experiences can offer us the most clarity and vision. Fast forward three years and my portrait business is blossoming into something very much my own. So, if you and I ever meet on the beach…please…run yourself silly, fling kelp to your heart’s content, and by all means, laugh until your gut is sore!

I am reminded of this story because as I sit here and upload images from last week’s session on Seabright Beach, I am realizing that this session embodies exactly what I want my clients to be during their sessions: Themselves!

And now onto the Fabulous Mary and her amazing children…



Photogenic much?



Big props to Mary’s daughter, who came to the session after a slumber party. 5th grade slumber party attendees aren’t exactly known for their performance the next day, but she did really well!blog10

I just love this series:



I don’t blame her a bit, I wanted to eat him up too!


I always try to make beach portraits look unique and not like every other beach session out there…



I forgot to mention that Mary is my awesome hair stylist. Give her a call at Azhar in Downtown Santa Cruz, she is THE BEST! (831) 426-6334


Both kids were big proponents of their own individual photos and had very strong opinions regarding exactly where they should be taken, which I just loved! Turns out, they both had amazing visions.



Another take on the last one.


I had to show this one because I love the sailboat in the background.



Thank you, Mary and dear little ones for lighting up my evening with your infectious smiles. What an honor it was to document your love and your sincere joy in being together. With Much Love, Jo Ann


One response to “Mary and her Kids {Santa Cruz Relaxed Family Portraits/ Seabright Beach Family Portraits}

  1. Jenn December 8, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Jo Ann-
    You have found your style and I love it! It is obvious that others do to cause I am not the only repeat client. Happy Holidays. jenn

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