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: family

Home {Santa Cruz family portrait photographer}

As I was sorting through these photographs it occurred to me that this is the seventh year in a row that I’ve photographed these people. They are some of my very favorites for sure and man, do I feel lucky to call them dear friends. We’ve been all over… from home with a one year old to grandpa’s ranch, back home with a baby brother, to the redwoods, to the spot where mom and dad were married, to an apple orchard, and now back home with a beautiful new baby sister. Life really is incredible.

123458671011912Thank you for sharing your lives with me. I loved being there and I love you guys. xo, J


joyful one

In the Greek language, the name Efthemios means “joyful one”.

And he has brought so much joy to us. Happy 18 month birthday Efthemios, we love you!


Today we rode to Wilder Ranch. It was cold, but so beautiful…hazy with a tiny bit of sun peeking through. We weren’t there for very long but it was amazing. We watched the chickens, tossed the baseball a little bit, and visited the horses. We gave them a couple of carrots and had our own snacks and were about to leave when I remembered that I had brought my camera. I caught a couple of funny ones of the boys and Pat got a few frames with the boys and I. That is when I remembered that our baby will be 18 months in a couple of days. A year and a half. I can’t quite get my head around it. We rode home with the wind at our backs, made dinner and had hot chocolate to warm up. I think the hot chocolate may have been the highlight for the big brother.

These ordinary days are what make my life feel so meaningful.

I never ever thought I’d…

I never thought I’d ever sit on the floor in my pajamas well past noon with my 1 year old while we ate cauliflower and read “little quack” and “bobo” over and over again. I never figured I’d allow my child to devour leftover birthday cake and ice cream on a day that he’s too sick to go to school. If you asked me 10 years ago if I thought I’d ever or lust over minivans or go to the gym at midnight or if I’d list legos as one of my hobbies I probably would have said no.

I would’ve been wrong.

in a cardboard box

They really are the best toys…


By complete chance we ended up at the pumpkin patch at sunset the other day…I was pretty much in heaven.

The pumpkin patch is Rodoni Farms in Santa Cruz. It is our favorite pumpkin patch by far and we find ourselves visiting multiple times each autumn. It is hard to stay away for sure.

Another year

I always measure life’s progress and movement by our annual summer trip to Tahoe. Pat and I haven’t missed a year since the summer that we first met. We always stay with his parents who live ridiculously close to all things amazing…mountain biking trails, the lake, the pool (recently discovered since children).

Every year the stay is pretty nostalgic for me. The smell of the air, the enormous pine cones, blooming columbines, amazing light that sings to me all afternoon, our favorite pizza place…I could go on and on. I always think about the years past and wonder where we’ll be in our lives next year when we come back. This year I thought about Tahoe the summer of 2004 and how hard it was to walk up the stairs without becoming winded. I remember being at the beach and watching a mother with her crawling baby marveling over the idea that I’d have one of my own in a year. I remember the following year bringing along a smiling, chubby 9 month old and Pat’s family oohing and ahhing over him the entire time.

It was two summers ago that I relished daily long runs on the trails. And last summer, pregnant again, I wistfully remembered the long runs on the trails but settled for short (and slow) mountain bike rides instead, my family patiently waiting for me every few minutes. That was the year that I saw a mama bear with her two bouncing cubs crossing the trail dangerously close to me and my seven month pregnant belly as I plodded away on my bike. I remember stopping frozen, so mesmerized by their beauty that I completely forgot to be afraid. That was also the year that the big guy started swimming and proudly jumped off of the diving board for the first time.

This year was baby #2’s first Tahoe trip…and I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic all over again as I brought another round, smiling baby to the pool, chubby hands splashing in the water. We all rode on the trails that Pat and I have ridden on since we first met and stopped for a photo because the light was perfect and so was everything else.

Thank you, Pat for making my life what it is. Happy Birthday!

While I wasn’t looking

One of my favorite things is when I download random images onto my computer and I see some that I didn’t take. Pat grabs my camera from time to time and it is always worth a giggle. Usually he snaps shots of the boys doing something funny when I’m not around. I have been loving his eye lately.

I have to say that I love these…


He turned 7 last week. All he wanted to do was go to the lake…and eat chocolate. We happily managed both. I thought about the day he was born, the day he turned one, two, three, and so on. We still can’t believe it, how he has grown. He has the same sweet smile that he had as a baby. We love him more each year. Happy birthday to you, our biggest boy. You truly are the sunshine of our lives…

Happy Birthday Efthemios

It all started when my dad was in hospice…I felt awful and nauseous but figured that it was due to the stress and sadness that I was feeling. After the funeral I headed back to California with a hole in my heart and an ache in my belly. I woke up every day wondering how a loss could feel so much like morning sickness.


8 months later, we showed up at the hospital and they put us in room 1129…the same room that I had given birth to our first boy 6 years before. At that moment, I knew that everything would be alright. And I was right. He was perfect. And beautiful. And the most amazing gift that our little family could have ever asked for. We are grateful for him every day.

Happy birthday to you, Efthemios. You are the little bird who flew our way just when we needed you the most. Thank you for perching on the branches of my heart when it felt cold and dark.

Life continues on, and it is beautiful.