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!

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…




One response to “Peace, Love, Happiness, & Watermelon

  1. Olivia May 9, 2009 at 9:33 pm


    Gives a woman stuck in an office motivation!

    Thanks 🙂

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