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: February 2008

Blue Apple Studios: week 2


This Friday we took our transfer samples from the first class and added to them with watercolor and acrylic paints, fabric, wire, beads, and other found objects. The assignment (and I use this term loosely) was to alter or add to their image without completely losing its essence. I wanted the artists to experiment and to see how far they could push things while keeping some of the feel for the original image. I’ve also been doing the projects myself so as to provide examples of what can be done (and I admit, because it’s really, really fun!)

This was the transfer image that I did as an example on the first class, a hibiscus flower from a trip to Mexico a few years ago:

And this is what it turned into. I used watercolor paint, found objects, a needle and thread and images of Mexican art and maps in order to tie it all together and create a theme. orig2_w2.jpg

I encouraged the artists to just go with their instincts and not to worry too much about the end result as this was meant to be experimental. They dove in without reservation and I was blown away once again. Here are some examples of their work:


The fabric is beautifully pieced together in this one, creating a really cool effect.

Here is a perfect example of the artist “going for it”

These photos don’t do them justice, but the detail on the next 2 pieces is unbelievable.


I love the simple and graphic elements of this one.

It was fun seeing the artists either match, compliment, or juxtapose texture and color with the original images.


I love the brushstrokes on this one.

A fabulous example of symmetry that works really, really well. These transfers were cut out and pasted onto a larger piece of paper.

Santa Cruz, aahhhh…

The depth in the painting on this one is amazing.

This artist chose to cut out images from his transfers, paste them onto a separate piece of paper, and create a collage with paint. I love this piece’s color palate and imagination.

As I said, I was blown away. Next week the artists will be working with images that they themselves captured. Check back in a week for this coming Friday’s report!

Mid-Winter Thoughts

It is always nice to read nice things about yourself…

With that said, I was so tickled to read an entry in my friend, Cayce’s blog about a portrait session that I did for her family back in November. She posted some images and recounted what went on during the shoot. It is a lovely post and left me blushing.

People often ask me how I can get small children to look so happy in my portraits. My answer? Sit back, let the child and his/her family do their thing, and take lots (and lots and lots and lots) of photos. I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t want to smile. It is just that they may not want to smile for an hour continuously. Who would? My cheeks hurt just thinking about it. So, instead of trying to make a kid laugh or squeeze a squeaky bird-like toy, I just try to disappear and click away constantly. In the end, regardless of whether it is a great day or not, I get images of a happy child. I may get 60 smiling images and 360 frowning images, but after I delete the unwanted ones, I have 50 gorgeous smiling images. And as for all of those frowns? Well, I always keep a few for good measure as nobody wants things to look too unrealistic;), but beyond that, the trash can gobbles them up and we all forget that the frown to smile ratio may have been 6:1 that day.

So, thank you Cayce for the kind words! To read what she had to say, CLICK HERE.

On a completely unrelated note, I wanted to share a few personal images. We had the most delightfully warm weather here in Santa Cruz a few weeks ago and we tried to take full advantage. On one of these days, Kosta and I went to Happy Hollow Park and Zoo in San Jose and found it to be in the mid-seventies. Here are a few from the goat area at Happy Hollow. For those of you who may not know, I am of Greek descent and have always had quite a penchant for goats. It was heart-warming to see that my son shares my sentiment!



The Goat Whisperer

I cannot believe that I managed to locate these, but here I am in the summer of 1979 with Honey, our family pet. The neighbors were perplexed with our choice of pets (there were not many Greek families living in Bath, Ohio at the time). I distinctly remember my mom taking both of these photos.



And back to Happy Hollow. A couple of fun close-up shots with my 15mm fisheye lens:



The following day, I pulled Kosta and his buddy Matteo down to the beach for hours of fun. It was a sight to behold, so I grabbed a shot with my point-and-shoot before we left.

I send each of you warm mid-winter thoughts!

First Class at blue Apple Studios

I’ve decided to do a weekly blog post on the Polaroid Transfer class that I’m teaching at Blue Apple Studios. This way, the artists and their families can see their work online. Also, an online diary of the class will give my blog readers a feel for the creative process at work, which is a truly amazing thing. Look for the Blue Apple posts within the first half of each week for the next 5 weeks. I’m really excited to see where this class takes us!

Friday marked our first class. The artists caught on incredibly quickly and ended up producing three samples each (I had planned for one or two). We had a really good time and I was blown away by the results:

We hung the samples up to dry. I loved how elegant they looked displayed in this way.




Here are some quick shots of individual pieces. I love the antiquated and exotic look of this one:

…And the texture of this one:

Bright colors like orange and red really pop out on Polaroid Transfers.

All of these transfers were made using slides of photographs that I’ve taken over the years. The artists will be using their own images next. I’m excited to see what they come up with. The following three images are of Mayan Ruins in Tulum, Mexico.



And some flora from around the world:


I absolutely love the emulsion peel on this one. This is a perfect example of something that can never, ever be duplicated.

I’ve been experimenting with some future projects for class and I wanted to share. I took a photograph of the Blue Apple Studios sign with my digital camera. Using Photoshop, I cropped it to a 3×8 inch image and then divided this into 4 parts and had slides made. I then pieced the images together onto printmaking paper, re-creating the sign in Polaroid Transfers!

This was the original image that I used:

Our next step will be altering the above pieces with paint and other mediums. Check back to see the evolution of these samples!

Maternity Session

I got to spend some time with Jenn, Carter, and little Aidan this past Saturday. Baby Oliver, the newest member of the family is due next month.

Jenn is such a beautiful mom.


I used available light throughout the shoot. Some gorgeous natural light was pouring in through the windows.

Aidan has a fabulous personality.

He let me get close and was incredibly gracious about it.

One of my favorites. (I love my 85mm 1.2 lens) This kiddo is adorable and will be a great big brother. I predict that Baby Oliver will be entertained constantly.

Dad cracking his little guy up.

It was so nice to be around this family, they were so relaxed and comfortable together.

A perfect head rest.

I love the next two images.


How great is this one? Aidan gets in on the action.

Congratulations you guys. You will be wonderful parents this time around as well!

Art Classes at Blue Apple Studios!


I’m beyond excited to announce that I’ll be teaching a 6-week Polaroid Transfer class at Blue Apple Studios in Aptos. As much as I love digital photography, I’ve deeply missed getting my hands dirty and creating something tangeble, something that I can smell and touch and see somewhere other than on a computer screen. Something, well…real!

Blue Apple’s owner, the amazing and crazy-talented Cayce (who my faithful blog readers will remember from a family portrait session back in November) has asked me to teach a class in which we will experiment with all aspects of Polaroid Transfers: printing, manipulating, painting…the options are unlimited, really. I’m honored that she has asked me to teach at the Studio. Teaching kids about photography and art has always been a dream of mine, one of those “I’d love to do that one day” things. Thanks, Cayce for bringing this gift to me.

Here are some images that I grabbed today of the exquisitely funky and beautiful Blue Apple:

Located in Redwood Village in Aptos, Blue Apple could not be more charming…


Some shots of the interior. Check out the awesome floors and the gorgeous natural light.

Some amazingly talented young artists attend Blue Apple.


And Cayce’s painting. This is actually a detail of several canvases hung together. She said that this was the inspiration for the Studio.

Anyone want to paint?

I couldn’t resist this one.

Or this one…

I got this one by laying down in the doorway with my 15mm fisheye lens.

This place would’ve been a dream-come-true for me when I was growing up.

For me, Polaroid Transfers are the perfect combination of photography and fine art. I’m looking forward to seeing what these talented young artists come up with. The class begins this Friday (Feb 15th) and goes for 6 weeks. I’ll be posting some examples of our Polaroid Transfer work and updates from the class so check back!

For some examples of my Polaroid Transfers, check out the fine art (alternative processes) section of my website.

Blue Apple Studios can be contacted at: (831) 662-8877