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!

Category Archives: engagements

Carmel Valley Engagement Photography {Hillary & Mike’s engagement}

A month prior to their beautiful wedding, Pat and I met Hillary and Mike in Carmel Valley for their engagement session. We had so much fun wandering around the beautiful grounds of Bernardus Lodge. Of course we were delighted to get some of that soft and golden Carmel Valley light, my absolute favorite! 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


Kendra & Phil-engagement {Santa Cruz engagement photography, Aptos engagement photography}

Kendra and Phil chose Kendra’s grandfather’s property for their engagement session. A kind and beautiful couple, an incredibly special location, and gorgeous fall light made it such a perfect evening.















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K & P, what can I say? I adore you both and am so incredibly glad that we met. This evening was such an honor and a pleasure for me. Thank you for entrusting me with these. I miss you both and send much love from my corner of the world to yours. xo, J

from the redwoods to the beach {a santa cruz engagement session}

Steph and Gil met in Australia where they were both studying at the University of Melbourne. A few years later after a move to southern California, grad school, and a raspberry ring pop, they’re getting ready to say “I do”. Gil’s family has Santa Cruz ties so they’ll be traveling here to tie the knot in July. We loved that this beautiful pair chose both the redwoods and the beach for their engagement shoot, vintage Santa Cruz!

Steph and Gil, we are so honored to know you both. Thank you for making our night. We simply can’t wait until July! All our Love, Jo & Pat

Santa Cruz Engagement Photography {Andrea & Kevin}

I had such a great time with Andrea and Kevin last weekend. They chose the most beautiful location for their engagement session-a blossoming apple orchard. I loved how genuinely happy and comfortable they were together. It was a perfect evening. Well, perfect with the exception of my car battery needing a jump at the end of the shoot and Andrea’s dad and sister coming to my rescue…just slightly embarrassing. They are lovely people, though and they made me feel as if they do that sort of thing all the time and that it was no big deal. I have awesome clients.

Two beautiful people with beautiful hearts…I can’t wait for their wedding!

Featured on Blending Beautiful!

A huge thanks to Kim for featuring my work on her very lovely blog, Blending Beautiful today! Kim is a friend of Tina, the beautiful bride who is kissing her brand new hubby in the last post. She saw my work and contacted me about posting a few of the images. What an honor!

Thanks again to Kim for the post. She is currently planning her own wedding and has all sorts of great wedding planning posts that are worth checking out for sure. Check out blending Beautiful HERE. And of course, thanks to Tina and Ryan, who make taking beautiful pictures sooooo easy!

Santa Cruz Engagement Shoot: Tina & Ryan

Congrats to Tina and Ryan who are tying the knot this summer. Thanks to the amazing weather lately, we took advantage a gorgeous spring afternoon in Santa Cruz…complete with blooming wildflowers and the most beautiful sunset!

Beautiful Bride:

Handsome Groom:

I love the cameo in this one…

Tina’s friend will be choreographing their first dance on their wedding night…and so they did a bit of practicing in the wildflowers.

Tina & Ryan, thank you for such a lovely evening. I had a great time with you guys. I was especially taken by the incredibly gentle and kind way in which you relate to each other. Pat and I are so excited to photograph your wedding in July, it will be an honor! With Love, J

Annie & Jonathan! {Los Angeles engagement session}

It’s a funny story, actually…

A few years ago I was considering wedding photography as a new career and was looking for some volunteers to practice on. We were headed to L.A. for the weekend to visit family and at the last minute, I grabbed my wedding dress and shoes before heading out the door. I was feeling optimistic.

I gave my beautiful, fabulous, and incredibly photogenic friend Annie a call. “I need you to dress up like a bride so that I can practice, I even have my dress and shoes with me, are you game?” I tried not to sound desperate. True to form, she happily volunteered not only herself, but her boyfriend of three months, Jonathan to be my couple for the day.

“You’d better ask him.” I suggested, feeling uneasy about this complete stranger donning a suit for my ridiculous whim. “Oh, I will, but I know he’ll say yes. He’s a lot like me.”, she replied. He’s a lot like you or he likes you a lot? I was curious about this guy.

I showed up to Annie’s place the next afternoon to find both she and Jonathan ready for action. “I’ve got a few different suits that could work, which one would you like me to wear?” He politely asked me. I already loved this man and it wasn’t because he brought multiple suits to his fake wedding.

Real-life foreshadowing is always a strange thing.

The “bride and groom” seemed eerily at home in their roles. I remember thinking how well matched these two were and how crushed I’d be if they never really got married someday.

So, you can probably guess where this is going…

Fast forward a few years and here I am with many real weddings under my belt. As for Annie and Jonathan…well, I’ll just let the photos tell their story.

We started at the Fern Dell entrance of Griffith Park and strolled up the path along the creek. I couldn’t believe that we were in L.A! (Thank you, Jonathan for this awesome location!)

The late afternoon sun was peeking through the trees, offering such an amazing glow.

Annie is so lucky, this amazingly hot little sun dress was made by her mother!

I try to keep engagement sessions (you did guess that they’re getting married for real, didn’t you?) as candid as possible, but I saw this bench and got a silly little idea. Thanks for indulging me, guys. These two make me smile:

I love the look on Annie’s face here. Obviously, Jonathan’s got it goin’ on!

I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but there is something that I just love about the next two.

Happiness captured.

Of course, this post would not be complete without a photograph from their “first” wedding…ha! Although I feel that I’ve improved tremendously since, I do love the spirit and excitement that this shot captures.

I cannot wait to photograph Annie and Jonathan’s real destination wedding this August in the gorgeous mountains of Western Pennsylvania. They have so many amazing things planned for the entire weekend and I’m honored to be a part of it.

Annie and Jonathan, thank you! Obviously, being your wedding photographer is a dream come true for me. Your fun, spirited, and respectful partnership is an inspiration. i.simply.cannot.wait!

With much love and many colorful warm fuzzies,