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!

A First Birthday Portrait

I’ve been terrible about blogging lately, and I’m skipping a lot, but I just had to post this portrait session because Mom is one of my most faithful blog followers…that, and I love this family!

I was so honored that Nicole and her family came all the way from the Sacramento area for their family portrait session! Nicole and I “met” online earlier this year and have struck up one of those cyber-friendships. It has been an honor watching her grow as a photographer and reading her fabulously smart and entertaining blog. Well, I finally got to really meet Nicole, her hilarious husband Gary, and their two little angels. Their littlest turned one on the day after the portrait session, so I made sure that I got some special shots of the birthday girl…




Check out this amazing sweater ! Nicole knitted it and Gary’s mom sewed the beads on. Nicole, I am blown away by your mad skills!02blog

And here is the beautiful mom. Congratulations, Nicole and Gary…she is precious.07blog

And the adorable and equally precious big sis…01blog

Ready to walk.03blog

We met up at Wilder Ranch, which is always such an amazing place to photograph. The light there is pretty unbelievable.08blog

One of my faves…09blog


Another favorite.

I wish that I could take credit for this idea, but my friend Kendra once captured an image of my son in one of these barn windows and I have always loved it so much (Thanks, Kendra!). I know, I’m a total copycat, but it was so worth it for these smiles.12blog

And here is Dad with the birthday girl checking out the goats. Nicole and Gary are both veterinarians, and were quite interested in all of the animals at Wilder. In fact, I’m not sure who was more excited about the animals, the kids or the parents. Seriously though, I learned quite a bit from our short time together…these two seriously know their stuff!


By the end of the session, the wind was howling…but they were all still smiling.17blog


I love this one. One thing I’ve learned is that happiness can never be faked in photographs. If you look with your heart, you can always feel if it is there. 15blog


Nicole and Gary, thank you for making the trek and for sharing your amazing family with me. I left Wilder Ranch feeling inspired by the joy and ease that you posses as a family. Nicole, I am so glad that we’ve gotten to know one another. Your photographs are beautiful. Keep doing what you do and keep doing it from your heart. With big, big love, Jo


2 responses to “A First Birthday Portrait

  1. Katie Crimmins October 18, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    What a wonderful job on the photos! I am lucky enough to be the sister, sister-in-law and auntie to those beautiful little girls. You captured them perfectly!

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