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 2009

I’m in Love!

…with etsy, that is. It blows me away every time I peruse it…I can’t believe the talent. I have a long list of favorite shops that I’ve been bookmarking and I promise to share it soon. Until then, though…if you love pottery half as much as I do, you must check out Utile Mud, an amazing female potter from St. Paul, Minnesota. Gorgeous wheel-thrown art with amazingly brilliant glazes and interesting color combinations. Did I mention that her work is beautifully photographed? Not that I care about such things…

My favorite part of Utile Mud’s shop is her fabulous profile, where she quotes the great Vincent Van Gogh:

“Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on earth to do…with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling”


gone fishin’…

**EDITED TO ADD: I received my first two pieces from Utile Mud in the mail on Wednesday…a red dinner plate and matching salad plate…they are even more lovely in real life!

I got the fever…

Yep, I’ve caught it, what can I say?




Spring fever? Sure, I’ve got that too. But I’m actually referring to blog fever. There are so many brilliant blogs out there and I’ve been meaning to share some of my favorites with you forever. Here’s just a small list off of the top of my head:

Icon Exposures Blog – my brother-in-law, Kevin’s photography blog, He’s based out of Lake Tahoe. Worth a look for sure, he’s awesome!

Jose Villa’s Website/Blog – stunning wedding photography-total eye candy.

Alicia Bock’s Blog – her Polaroid images take my breath away!

Green Kitchen Blog– Crafty with an edge…my friend Michelle is crazy-talented, you will love this one!

Discourse and Design – My dear friend Amy blogs on her favorite things.

Peek aren’t you Curious? Blog – Also written by Amy, packed with fun parenting information.

Mile Markers – For female runners. Well-written, sweet, and truly inspiring.

I’ll be adding these to my blog links, something that I’ve been meaning to do for awhile now. I have so many more and will definitely be adding to this list. Leave a comment and let us know what your faves are!

Oh, and I almost forgot…the above images were all shot at Hakone Gardens in Saratoga. I shot a really fun event there a couple of weeks ago and was overwhelmed by how stunning it is. I’d LOVE to do a wedding there someday.

Thanks for stopping by, I send you Love and Blossoms today…

New Portrait Gallery is UP!

So it’s finally finished…por1_blog






Check it out HERE and let me know what you think!

Kalo Pascha!

Kalo Pascha (Greek for Happy Easter) to all of my Orthodox friends and family, who celebrate Easter today. Because the Orthodox religion goes by the Julian Calendar (commonly called the “old calendar”), we often celebrate Easter later. Sometimes a week later, sometimes an entire month later, depending on the “algorithm” for the year (I love the word algorithm, by the way. I had a photography instructor who used it all the time when referring to Photoshop and have been smitten ever since!)

Anyhoo…this time of year is very much immersed in tradition for me. As a kid, it was an incredibly special time. My family was not terribly religious, but our Greek heritage was always at the forefront of every holiday. I remember dying Easter eggs, watching my Grandmother make “Kouloures”, or Greek Easter Bread, the many trips to church during Holy Week, and of course our annual lamb roast on Easter Sunday. I spent 20 years as a vegetarian, most likely due to what I witnessed in the kitchen on Easter mornings (I will spare you the details, but if you’re Greek and you’re reading this, you know exactly what I’m referring to.) Although I’m not as strict of a vegetarian as I once was, I can guarantee that I will never touch lamb again. Ever.

This year we tried making our own Easter egg dyes, which is how they still dye their eggs on the island in Greece. My dad’s lady friend, Maria lectured told me about it recently and I decided to give it a shot. We had so much fun choosing flowers, veggies, and fruits and boiling them to make the desired colors. I’m realizing that there is a small learning curve with this, but overall it was a great success…and so much fun.

Here he is doing some dying:


Here’s our “algorithm” for natural, hand-made dyes:

Yellow= sour grass flowers (stems included)

Purple: cabbage and onion skins

Orange: yellow beets, carrots, red beets

Pink: red beets

Green: spinach

Blue: blueberries (I do admit to augmenting this one with a tiny dot of blue food coloring as it was more purple than I’d hoped…please do not tell my son, though)

We collected jars for a few months in advance so that we had storage for the mixtures. We boiled these with two cups of water, then added about 2 tablespoons of vinegar to each mixture, doing one color per day as the entire process is quite labor intensive for a 4 year old. A few of the dyes required overnight soaks, but the colors ended up being gorgeous-definitely not your typical Paas Easter egg colors. I will try to photograph a few before they get gobbled up…

Happy Easter, Happy Sunday, Happy Week to you all!

Photography Tips for Parents


I was honored to be asked by the folks at Peek…Aren’t You Curious to write in their upcoming mailer. Because Peek is all about relishing the moments of childhood, I thought that it would be fun to share a few of my tried-and-true tips for getting amazing shots of your kids. Whether you’re shooting with a 5D or a point-and-shoot, this list will help you to capture those fabulous little people as they really and truly are. Is there any better way? I’m not sure when the mailer goes out, but I wanted to give my blog readers a sneak peek…

Here it is (enjoy!):

Jo Ann’s Top 5 Tips for Photographing Children

Parents always ask me how I go about capturing my images and how they, too, can take fabulous photographs of their kids. Because you’re a parent, you are already the best person for this job. Nobody else knows your little one better or can anticipate reactions or moments as accurately as you can. Below I’ve listed five tips that I swear by when photographing little ones. I use this list religiously for both my commissioned and personal work. So, grab your camera, tap into your parental intuition, and go out and have some fun!

1. Your child must be napped and fed. Period. It’s my one unbendable rule when it comes to photographing children. Simply put, grumpy kids are no fun to photograph. It’s usually not their fault…I’d be crying too if I were hungry and a stranger was pointing a camera in my face. So, feed them. Make sure they’re rested. I promise you’ll end up with better shots.

2. Change your perspective. Chances are that the action isn’t happening at your eyelevel. If you align your camera with your subject, you’ll end up with a stronger image. Get down on the ground and grab some shots of your daughter kicking the soccer ball. Better yet, lie on the ground and capture just her little legs moving that big ball! Once you begin thinking outside the box, the possibilities are endless.

3. Be on the lookout for photogenic “props”. These don’t have to be expensive or exotic. One of my all time favorite images is of my son with a worm in the palm of his hand. He found it in the compost pile and was bursting with pride. Props help to tell the story. A few of my tried and true ones: just about any food (I adore colorful treats like apples or messy ones like ice cream), oversized hats, mud puddles, dandelions, or an art project.

4. Take the “No Posers” challenge. On your next family outing, vow not to ask anyone to “smile for the camera”. Smiling for the camera isn’t bad, just overdone. I can pretty much guarantee that you will love the photo of your son’s face while he’s observing the monkeys at the zoo much more than the one of him posing for you in front of the monkey cage. Try it exclusively for one day. It feels sneaky. You’ll be shocked at how many smiles actually transpire spontaneously.

5. Say it with me: Reprints! My biggest beef with digital photography is that images don’t get printed. My biggest joy in digital is that we can be selective and trash what we don’t like. So choose your absolute favorites and have prints made at a good photo lab. And please, if it’s fridge-worthy, don’t just make one print…spread the love!

–Jo Ann

**As always, Thanks so much for stopping by. I know that I’ve been slow to blog lately, but good stuff is in store…promise! Have yourselves a wonderful week.