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 2009

Huge Family Portrait Special!

Big, Huge News! It’s that time of year again.


Every year since I’ve started my business, I’ve offered a Family Portrait Special (sessions at a HUGELY discounted rate) for one month during the spring or summer and donated 100% of the session fees to a non-profit. I choose a different recipient each year, and this is always so difficult as there are so many amazing non-profits doing wonderful work. This year, I’ve chosen Santa Cruz Waldorf School as my non-profit and am so incredibly excited! I love the philosophy behind this school, their dedication to educate the whole child and to instill in her/him a true, lifelong love of learning. I’m inspired by the way that respect for the earth is nurtured at this school. This is evident by their unbelievable organic vegetable and flower garden and compost area (cared for largely by the students). I love that art, music, movement, and foreign languages are not only taught but emphasized here from the early years. I’m proud that this school is a part of our community and I know that this fund raiser will be an enormous success.

Here are the Details:

You get…

One hour of my time at the location of your choice (within Santa Cruz County).

Complete editing and retouching on all final images.

One 8×10 print of your favorite image from the session.

Two months of access to a private and secure online image gallery which you can share with family and friends. You can also purchase additional images from this gallery if you’d like.

Basically, you get a killer deal and the satisfaction of doing something wonderful at the same time!

Investment is $130 (less than HALF of the regular investment). Your check made out to Santa Cruz Waldorf School is due at the time of your portrait session.

This offer is good during the month of June 2009 only and is on a first-come, first-served basis…so call today to schedule your session. I almost always sell out of these.

A Few More Details:

Normally, a Family Portrait Session is for up to 5 people and there is a $25 charge per additional person, but the charge does not apply for this fundraiser…so go ahead and round up the entire family and get that precious portrait that you’ve been wanting!

It is called a Family Portrait, but a family can be anyone. It can be just you and your fiance, spouce, signifant other, child, pet, friend, mother… you get the idea.

This offer is for EVERYONE and ANYONE. You need not have a child enrolled in SCWS to participate…so pass on the good word. This is also a great gift idea for a friend or family member, an anniversary gift, wedding gift, new baby gift…again, you get the idea.

Call or E-mail me for more info:

Phone: (831)359-7948



“No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”-Aesop

Seriously, why do we bother?

I had another one of those “why do we bother buying toys?” moments today.







1 laundry hamper + a pile of blankets = over an hour of bliss. The best part is that he actually requested photos, which doesn’t happen very often these days!

A wonderful weekend to you! xxoo

A Greek Ladybug

I was editing images today and eating a salad when she caught my eye. Perched on a piece of Feta cheese and looking incredibly happy…


Don’t worry, I moved her to the garden where she can eat all the insects that her heart desires.

I wish you all a delicious second half of this week…

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep


I’ve put off blogging about this for awhile now because I haven’t been sure how to put it all into words, but here it goes…

In February 2005, a baby boy named Maddux was born in Colorado. He died 6 days later. Before he passed away, his parents decided that they wanted some portraits taken of him. They had three other children and their walls were filled with family portraits. They wanted images of Maddux on their walls as well. They asked the nurse about the photographer responsible for the beautiful images hanging on the walls of the maternity ward and called the number on the business card. That evening (the evening of Maddux’s death), Littleton, CO photographer Sandy Puc came and photographed Maddux with his parents. She told mom and dad to call her whenever they were ready to see the images. Mom called the next day. Sandy delivered the images a few days later and mom mentioned that as grateful as she was for the images, she knew that there had been several other mothers who had recently left the hospital without their babies…and without beautiful photographs.


Together, Sandy Puc and Cheryl Haggard (mom of Maddux) started Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, a non-profit organization of professional photographers who visit hospitals or hospices to photograph babies who will not survive. There is no religious affiliation and no exchange of money, just a CD or DVD of high-resolution, professionally processed images for the family. What started off with Maddux and his parents is now a 7,000+ member organization in the U.S.and 25 other countries.

I’m honored to announce that I’m officially one of those 7,000+ members. Last Friday, I attended the first official N.I.L.M.D.T.S. regional meeting for the Monterey Bay area, headed up by the talented Andy Rea. We’re working to affiliate ourselves with nearby hospitals so that if this sad situation arises locally, we are only a phone call away should the parents be interested in our services.

For more information and details, to locate a photographer in your area, or to apply to be a N.I.L.M.D.T.S. affiliate photographer, check out the N.I.L.M.D.T.S. website.

Peek…Aren’t You Curious Sale!

emailtemplate_freindsfamily_002I’m posting this late, but Peek…Aren’t You Curious is having a sale and today is the LAST DAY! I love that they chose this image for the ad, it was one of my faves from the summer shoot. Check out their website, updated with some more images. A happy and safe holiday to all of you! xxoo

baby feet

The sweetest things on earth. Is is just me or does anyone else want to eat them??


Peek Aren’t You Curious, the updated website!


The images from Peek…Aren’t You Curious’ summer photo shoot are now up on their website! I just love the way that it all came together. Be sure to click on both Boys and Girls to see some more images as well. Isn’t their spring line fabulous?

CLICK HERE to check it out.

I hope that you’re all having a wonderful week!

Peek Aren’t You Curious Summer Photo Shoot

OK, this is a long post….so sit back, get comfy, and grab a beverage!

I have so many fun images from our shoot last week that I had trouble narrowing it down for the blog. We had such a splendid afternoon at McNear Beach in San Rafael for Peek…Aren’t You Curious’ summer photo shoot. Our original plan was Stinson Beach, but the fog pushed us to McNear Beach in San Rafael. We still didn’t get much sun, but the weather was warm and humid, which was great because the kids all had a blast splashing around in the water. Enjoy!





I couldn’t decide which one of these I liked best so I posted both:





This was such a fabulous group of children! My son didn’t know any of them, but they were so welcoming and sweet. He keeps asking me if I have their “mommys’ cell phone numbers” so that we can call them to play again!

The hand holding was the kids’ idea, I thought it made for a great photo. You can definitely tell by their expressions that nobody is forcing them to do this. Had I asked them to hold hands, they would never have done so with such delight!






One of my favorites from the day:




And now, the watermelon series! I hope that I’m not overdoing it with the images here, but the kids enjoyed this part so thoroughly that I didn’t want to leave anyone out! And yes, that is my child on the right…eating like a champ while all of the other kids wait patiently for everyone else to be served. Big shock, I know.







I adore this series:





Uh, yeah…he was the only kid who ate two of these enormous wedges. Again, no surprises there. I mean, we’re Greek, right?



How amazing are these clothes?? I love it because kids are always so comfortable and free in everything that they wear.






Up to no good, if you ask me.



I always try to get a few images for parents of the children as well as it is the perfect way to say thanks. The mother of these two beauties was particularly helpful, as in, the shoot wouldn’t have happened without her! Thanks, Lisa!!





There was no shortage of sugar, but it was handed out sparingly at only the perfect times. Well done moms!


Another favorite:


If you have not yet checked out Peek…Aren’t You Curious, you are in for a wonderful treat. This is an amazing company, run by some really wonderful people. Their clothing is beautifully designed and built to last! Most of all, I love their emphasis on allowing kids to be kids. I love that I am always asked to capture children as they are, not as what anyone else wants them to be. This makes me so happy that I feel like putting on a peace t-shirt and stuffing my face with watermelon until the juice drips all over me and then jumping into the freezing cold water…OK, well, you get the picture.

Check out their website HERE, it will soon be updated with some of the images from this shoot.

They also have a great new BLOG which is a fun resource for parents. Check the blog out HERE.

I have to say that this shoot was unusually fabulous. The kids were amazing and the parents were sooo incredibly cool, I was pretty disappointed when it was over as was my son. A wonderful time was had by all…thanks you guys. As always, it was my (our) honor to be there.

Much Love, Peace, happiness, & Watermelon,

Jo 🙂

Peace, Love, Happiness, & Watermelon


A few years ago, I wanted to become a photographer so badly that it hurt. I had taken every single photography class at the local junior college (some twice) and was mid way through my second semester of Alternative Photographic Processes. Knee deep in Polaroid Transfers and fix, I was wondering what I would do next. With no more photography classes to take, I figured that it was time to do something about this dream of mine, but I had no idea where to start. That, and I was terrified of failing. At the time, I was working at a gym and hating every minute of it, but putting on a happy face and doing my best.

One day, the gym manager called me into her office. Her face looked tired. She explained to me that they were undergoing some re-structuring and that my job was being eliminated. My responsibilities would now fall under someone else’s job description. As I sat watching her mouth move I felt a surreal mixture of elation and fear. I knew that it was time to move on, but was I was petrified of what came next. I had no idea what gifts were in store for me.

Two months later I learned that I was pregnant. During my pregnancy, I had my first official show at our friends’ Yoga Studio. I sold four small pieces and was over-the-moon. When my baby was three months old, I had my second and third shows. I sold a bunch of black and white photographs to the set designer of CSI Miami. I had never even heard of the show since we don’t have a TV, but the notion that my work may have possibly gotten a snippet of airtime on national TV was a thrill. Meanwhile, I was spending my days with my Pentax K1000 (don’t laugh, it’s still one of my all-time favorite cameras) and my baby boy. I’d rip through 3 rolls of film at the park, another one in the tub, and two more at the beach during sunset. I finally had an excuse to put all of those photography classes to practical use.

My husband, who has always had an open heart to the possibilities of a photography career, bought me my first digital SLR. Slowly thereafter, thanks to some great friends and word of mouth, I started dabbling in wedding photography and fell in love. 2 years later, I made the jump from hobby photographer to pro and am finally doing what I’ve always dreamed of. My son and I sometimes ride by the gym on our way home from the beach. The wind blows through our hair and I smile every time as my heart boils over with gratitude…for the fact that I am not stuck in a miserable job anymore, for the amazing intervention that took place there several years ago, for the fact that I’m free.

This is, of course, a brief synopsis of the early highlights. I didn’t include the many tears, the countless all-nighters spent editing and trying to learn Photoshop, the many moments of hating my work and wondering why on earth I thought I could do this, and the hundreds of beans and rice evenings while we saved for more camera equipment…but you get the idea, so far it has been well worth every low point.

On Wednesday, my son and I drove up to Marin to do a summer photo shoot for Peek…Aren’t You Curious. I got to hang out with my favorite person all day, meet up with some great people in the afternoon, and (are you kidding me?) photograph kids playing on the beach and eating watermelon. I’ve said it before on this blog…but sometimes I wish someone would pinch me. I’m bursting with gratitude for this brand new career of mine and feeling a lot like N, the beautiful girl in the photo above, savoring, relishing, and enjoying every sweet bite!

More images from the shoot coming soon…