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: June 2009


I got to photograph one of my favorite people yesterday, my dear friend and one of the founders of Peek…Aren’t You Curious, Amy Williams. She needed some images of herself for a few different reasons (can’t spill the beans just yet) and I was honored to be asked to capture a few relaxed portraits of her at home. Who knew that Scott and Amy’s living room would make such an amazing natural light studio?










She’ll probably kill me for posting these, but I just had to. Amy, you are stunning! I’m not sure that a mom of 2 month old twins is supposed to look this amazingly beautiful…oh well, I guess I’ll let it slide. It’s hard to be bitter when she is as sweet as pie.

Which ones do you like best, Amy?

To learn more about my lovely and talented friend, click here, or here, or even here.



We had lilac bushes in our yard where I grew up in Ohio. They arrived in May, an enormous sea of purple and white. The first true sign of summer. They smelled like heaven. My mother would cut some off and wrap the stems in wet paper towels, then aluminum foil and send me on my way to school. My teachers always loved them. Especially Ms. Evans, my Kindergarten teacher. She loved them so much that mom kept sending me to school with more for her. She would put them in an old dusty vase, smile, and pat me on the head. Ms. Evans wasn’t a particularly kind teacher. She put poor Michael H. in a cardboard box and called it his “office”. Apparently, he wasn’t being attentive enough. He was supposed to sit in his “office” all day long where he couldn’t see a thing. Sounds like a great way to encourage attentiveness, amongst other things…

I shudder at the thought of my baby having a Ms. Evans. Pat says that things are different these days, that Ms. Evans wouldn’t last a day in school (let alone Kindergarten) today. All I know is that I have two memories of Kindergarten…lilacs and Michael H’s cardboard box.

The lilac memories are lovely ones, though. I can still picture my mom in the warm foggy morning air, cutting them for my teachers. It meant that school would soon be over and that she would be all mine for three whole months. I would proudly step onto the school bus with the fragrance of heaven encircling me.

A few months ago I stopped into Susi’s Flowers to grab some fresh cut flowers for a dear friend who was in the hospital. I couldn’t believe my nose…lilacs. You don’t normally see them in California, not like the ones in the Midwest anyway. They’re smaller, less intense, less amazing here. Susi said that in order to grow good lilacs, a cold snap is needed. That would explain the Ohio part. She said that hers are from a very old bush, that the newer bushes just aren’t the same. I believe her, I hadn’t seen or smelled a decent lilac since I moved to California almost 15 years ago…until that day.

I drove to the hospital with the bouquet on the passengers seat and a flood of memories in my head. I traveled back to Kindergarten and thought about the full circle that I’ve come. Our baby starts Kindergarten this fall. I’m not quite sure where the years have gone.

I went back to Susi’s the other day for some gorgeous cut flowers of my own. No lilacs, though (the season is over here in Santa Cruz). It’s a gorgeous shop, located in Rancho Del Mar in Aptos, a few doors down from Safeway. Do stop by and check it out the next time you’re looking for unbelievably beautiful flowers. She does weddings and events as well and by the looks of what was being created in the shop when I stopped in, her arrangements are some of the most stunning I’ve ever seen. Not to mention that Susi and the other woman working there were amazingly sweet and helpful. I know that I’ll be stopping by again soon…and telling my brides about her as well.

Oh, and guess what was in full bloom on our recent trip to the Sierras ?


they smelled like heaven…

Mary Beth & Shane: Part 2 {Lake Tahoe Wedding Photography}

I’ve been having trouble deciding which images to post since there are so many good ones (these two are unbelievably photogenic). Here are a couple more images from after the ceremony. I love candid shots so much that I just had to share.tahoe1


Next we headed back to their hotel, The Lake Tahoe Hyatt Regency for some more casual shots. I love capturing relaxed shots of couples, and the location couldn’t have been more perfect.

Mary Beth , you are gorgeous.hyatt11

Shane, you’re not so bad yourself!hyatt10

The beach at the Hyatt was so beautiful.hyatt14


Some weather started to roll in, but these two didn’t care a bit…they were all smiles.hyatt4

I like the next two a lot.hyatt3


They boarded this boat at 5 AM the next morning for a fishing expedition…I was seriously impressed. And I received word that Shane caught quite a few.

Photogenic much?hyatt7


I love how content they both look.hyatt2

And lastly, two of my favorites from the day:hyatt5


Mary Beth and Shane, you guys are amazing! May your life together be as sweet as your wedding day.



PS- Thanks for the fabulous bottle of wine…we enjoyed every drop and toasted you two! xxoo

Mary Beth & Shane:Part 1 {Lake Tahoe Wedding Photography}

Here I am at Syd’s internet cafe in Tahoe City because wireless at Grandma and Grandpa’s hasn’t been cooperating. Not that I’m complaining though, the Mochas are great here!

Mary Beth and Shane tied the knot in Tahoe last week and I was so honored to be asked to document it. This wedding was really unique for a few different reasons…

1) Mary Beth is a childhood friend whom I’ve known for the better part of 25 years. She is quite gorgeous as you can see, but even more importantly, she is a truly amazing person and radiates joy…honestly, she is smiling in every single image-the real kind of smile,not the fake kind. Of course, I adore this.

2) I was asked to photograph this wedding largely due to Facebook, which is where Mary Beth and I have reconnected within the last year. I used to think that things like Facebook were strange. Well, OK, maybe they are strange, but in a really, really good way! I’m grateful for this and have reconnected with so many friends from childhood as well as relatives near and far…even as far as Greece…LOVE that! I also want to mention that this is the second childhood friend’s wedding that I’ve had the honor of documenting. So, who’s next? I won’t lie, I’ve got my eye on a few of you!

3) Mary Beth and Shane got hitched in beautiful Lake Tahoe, one of my favorite places on earth. I’ve never photographed a wedding here and was over-the-moon about the opportunity to do so.

4) I had never met Shane the handsome Groom…he is wonderful and a perfect partner for Mary Beth. It is so nice to see two people so content and comfortable together, I actually felt comforted just being around them.

Here are a few shots of the ceremony and the moments after they said “I do”. Part 2 of this stunning wedding is coming soon!

The Gorgeous Bride.tahoe1


The infamous pine cone! I love the simple and elegant details of Mary Beth’s dress.

The weather was overcast for most of the day, but the sun peeked out over the mountains just in time for the ceremony. It was awesome.tahoe4

I love me a little veil action. I also love the look on Shane’s face.tahoe5

And then a few small clouds blew by and the light got all buttery, yum. tahoe6

They did it!!!tahoe7


How amazing is this place?tahoe9



Off to the rest of our lives…tahoe12

Mary Beth and Shane…what can I say? I am beyond honored to be able to share these images. You are both so fabulous. Thanks again for including me in this unbelievable day.



Yep, eating again…

Please excuse me as I’ve been slow to blog lately, life has been moving so fast  and I’m running to keep up. I’m in lovely Lake Tahoe this weekend  for some family time and a gorgeous intimate wedding (images coming soon). Until then, I wanted to share a few shots that I captured last week after a strawberry picking trip at Swanton Berry Farm. Now, it has been called to my attention more than once that this blog is heavy on the eating photos…and yes, I am aware of this. What can I say? I’m Greek and I love to eat and I’m afraid that my son has inherited this gene. Enjoy!

Here’s what we scored from the farm:


And here’s what became of most of it:


And of course, counting how many we ate is a favorite activity for a four-going-on-five year old!


Happy Summer, it is here!

**I also have a few spots left for the Family Portrait Special Fundraiser (see previous post) but they’re going fast, so shoot me an e-mail if you’re interested!