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: March 2008

…back in town



A quick update for the parents of my Blue Apple Artists: Todays class (3/21) is cancelled as it is officially spring break and nearly half of us will be out of town. Safe travels and a wonderful journey to each of you! The make-up class is scheduled for Friday, April 11th at the usual time. I look forward to seeing you all again. Stay tuned for some more Blue Apple updates…rumor has it that I may be teaching another Polaroid Transfer class soon!


I arrived home on Wednesday evening feeling both exhausted and energized from my first WPPI convention. I had an unbelievable time and I’m so happy to write that I met every single goal that I showed up with (with the exception of the bubble bath, that was just a bit unrealistic I’m afraid…). I’ll be posting some examples of what I took away from the conference in the very near future, so keep checking in!

I’m probably at risk of sounding like a completely obsessive and overly-driven geek, but I wanted to share something:

I spent the short flight back to San Jose reading over my notes (I’m a frivolous note-taker, I must admit) and based upon these notes I then formulated a fairly long list of goals for both myself and for my photography.

Next, I categorized the list and even assigned a date to each goal, some goals are to be met within the month and others within the year. I really wanted to list my goals while they were still fresh in my mind and while the experience and inspiration of WPPI were still real. I didn’t want to return to my routine, get busy with daily life, and let it all fade away. Instead, I wanted to make something of it all.

I’m sharing this because I cannot tell you how incredibly satisfying it has been to process things in this way! In about 90 minutes I took what felt overwhelming and confusing and streamlined it into (if all goes well) less than a year of clearly defined work. I cannot recommend this type of exercise more and it seems to me that it would work in any facet of ones life. For me, things are always simplified when they’re written down.

As I mentioned before, I’ll be sharing some of these goals here on my blog as I achieve them, so keep visiting me! It’s all very exciting…

I wish all of you a wonderful holiday weekend!

Off To Vegas!


It’s Sunday morning and I’m off to Las Vegas for the WPPI convention. The WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photographers International) convention is the the professional photography industry’s largest annual gathering in the form of a convention and trade show. This is my first time attending, and to say that I’m excited is an understatement.

I’m looking forward to attending lectures and workshops with some of my very favorite photographers in the business. It is always so interesting to see the actual people behind these photographs and to listen to what inspires them as artists and how they run their businesses.

I’ll also be reuniting with some photographer friends that I’ve made over the last year and a half, one from as far away as Chile!

My goal is to come back with four things:

1) Fresh ideas for my images. I’ve been reading about a few ways to make my images more unique and beautiful. I plan on connecting with some photographers and purchasing new software to make this happen asap!

2) Business strategies. Because I’m new to owning my own business, I’ll be attending lectures by some successful business owners at WPPI. I don’t have anything specific that I’m dying to know, just an overall idea of how they’re doing things and what makes their businesses work so well. I’d like to use this as a way to assess where I am and where I want to go this year.

3) New and amazing products and services for my clients. The trade show promises to have any great product and service that I’ll ever want and I can’t wait! I’ve been on the hunt for better albums and I plan on returning with several new album suppliers, so clients: stay tuned for some great new offerings!

4) Overall inspiration. This is so incredibly broad, but I’m hoping to find some here. We all need a little inspiration sometimes, don’t we?

5) I forgot, I have one last goal: Uninterrupted showers! Yes, I plan on taking at least 3 uninterrupted showers while I am away. I will miss my son terribly…but I do look forward to the warm, quiet, solitude and peace of showering without anyone banging on the door, running in and out, screaming, or using up all of my warm water. Who knows, I may just go for it and take a bubble bath! 🙂

So there it is, I’ll be posting my take on my very first WPPI convention on Thursday, so check in again!

I will be at WPPI until Wednesday evening and will not be checking e-mail or fulfilling photo orders while I’m gone. If you place an order or send me an e-mail between Sunday and Wednesday, hang tight…I’ll be back at work on Thursday morning.

Have a wonderful next few days!

Blue Apple Studios Week 4: Warhol-Inspired Project

I’m a bit behind on my posts this week as I’m getting ready to leave for the WPPI convention in Las Vegas (more on that tomorrow).

For now, I’d like to backtrack and post some of last week’s images from the Polaroid Transfer class that I’m teaching at Blue Apple Studios. Last week, each artist worked with his/her series of transfers and altered each one…enough so that each image looked different, but without losing the feel of the original image.

As an example, I shared Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe images with the class. We talked about how, at a glance, the images all look identical. As we looked closer, however, each image was different. Sometimes Marilyn’s eye shadow was simply in a different place, sometimes her lips were black instead of red, and sometimes the entire image was a darker tone. I encouraged the artists to be as obvious or subtle as they wanted, but to make sure that the viewer could still recognize that the original images in the series were the same.

I thought I’d also mention that the following images were all actually photographed by the artists.

Isabel’s before:

And after:

A closer look:



The watercolor paint “spilling” out of the frame really adds to this one!

Beau’s before:

And after:

Amazing colors!




Ethan’s before:

and after: Ethan’s mom whisked this piece away to be framed!

I love that Ethan chose not to alter the first image in his series, as it is simply gorgeous. The truth is that none of these images really need altering, but it’s always fun to push things and to see where it leads…



Gabby’s before:

and after:

I really like the way that this series flows.




This photograph by Lauren makes a simply stunning Polaroid Transfer:

Tune in next week to see how Lauren adds her Warhol touch to this series:

This image is a photograph of Austin’s cat. In Photoshop, we cropped it to just a patch of fur on the cat’s head. I can’t wait to show you what becomes of this abstract piece!

I cannot express how much I’ve been enjoying teaching this class, I look forward to Fridays even more now! Check back next week to see more work by more artists!

Oliver is here!

I was lucky enough to revisit Jenn and her family over the weekend, this time to photograph the beautiful Baby Oliver. Photographing newborn babies is one of the best parts of my job. I always feel honored to be invited to sit with a family and document such a special time in their lives.

I’ve been around quite a few newborn babies. I’ve even had one of my own…but it is something that to this day, I still cannot get my head around. To look at a tiny person, think about where they came from, and wonder who they will become is, in my opinion, one of the most amazing parts of the human experience.

And here he is…

Jenn looks so at home with Oliver in her arms.

And Oliver looks quite content in Jenn’s arms as well!

Check out the very cool edible birth announcements! I am sorry to say that mine was eaten immediately by my family (I did help, though.)

Oliver was ten days old when I visited. I was amazed at how incredibly alert he was.

It was wonderful seeing Aidan again.

Good news for Oliver: his big brother will be very eager to read to him.

And good news for Jenn and Carter: Oliver will most likely be able to sleep through anything!

He was unbeliebably gentle with his new brother.

Don’t worry Aidan, you will soon be this little guy’s hero.

A couple of candid family portraits…

I don’t blame him for coming three weeks early to be with this family. I would’ve done the same thing.

Carter tried a new position out on Oliver.

Yep, it’s a winner for sure.


Oliver is too beautiful for words.

Carter’s mom made this blanket for Oliver. He seems to approve.

I especially love this one:

Congratulations Jenn, Carter, and Big Brother Aidan. I know that Oliver will bring all of you endless joy and love!

The Birthday Card

I wanted to share something really cool today. Kosta made the most amazing birthday card for his friend Skye, who turned four last week. He spent an entire month working on it, adding a little each day. Whenever he saw something that caught his eye, he’d say: “That would be perfect for Skye’s card!” and we’d get out the glue (glitter glue usually) and go to it. He even pasted images of strawberries and bananas from a Trader Joes yogurt package onto the inside of the card. He put so much time, energy, talent, and Love into Skye’s card that I had to photograph it before he gave it to her.


There is something really healing about sitting next to him and watching as he creates. I was lucky enough to capture one of these moments a few months ago:

I don’t know about you, but things like this make my heart so big that I’m afraid it just might burst…

Blue Apple Studios: week 3

I’m just now posting some images from last Friday’s class. It was an exciting one because the artists were able to work with their own images. I sent their digital images to, an online company that turns jpegs and other digital files to slides. ( did an awesome job and the turnaround time was impressive. I highly recommend them if anyone is looking for this service!) Using the slide of their images, the artists went to work making transfers. Here is what they came up with:

Beau took this image at Land of Medicine Buddha

…and reproduced it five times in a row here!

I love this image that Ethan captured…

…and I also love the way that he stacked them up here. (Pay no attention to my fingers in this shot, and don’t worry…I am a complete professional;)

Gabby’s red flowers really “pop”.

She intentionally made the emulsion pull off in the last image in this series, which I thought was really cool.

And Isabel’s daffodil, I love the composition of this one, it is so graphic and fun.


Gillian used one of my slides, but will be doing her own soon, I really like the fact that two are upside-down, another happy accident. We’ll be working further with these multiple images this coming Friday. I cannot give the project away in its entirety, but…..think Andy Warhol!

We had some time left over, so we did a little experimanting. Isabel found that transfers look awesome on paper towels!exp1.jpg

We also experimented with manipulating the images by dragging and/or twisting them as we transfered them onto the paper.

I love this one, it came out looking like a watercolor painting.

Impressive, huh? Check back next week for the results of our “image series” projects!

Steph’s Etsy Page

I was thinking about something the other day and had an epiphany…

Although it sounds like something that should have occurred to me years ago, it strangely just hit me. I was thinking about the individuals who make up my close circle of friends, both nearby and far away, and I realized that this circle is virtually entirely made up of artists. Obvoiusly, this was not intentional. I mean, I’ve never used being an artist as criteria for friendship. It just seems to have evolved this way. For whatever reason, my community of friends includes painters, actors, comedians, potters, writers, musicians, and other photographers. I’m constantly inspired by these pals and their work, and watching them has definitely helped me to push myself as an artist, to see the world differently, and to take risks with my artwork and in my life.

With all of this said, I’ve decided to feature one of my incredibly talented friends here on my blog each month. I love the idea of this blog being a resource for artists. A place for us all to learn about and to share our work with one another.

So, I’ll kick the month of March off with my friend Steph. As college roommates, Steph and I both detested what we were studying. Together, we sought solace in late night art projects…perhaps nothing worthy of museum walls, but art projects none the less…When Steph scrapped her business major and started taking drawing classes through the art and design college, I was insanely jealous and inspired at the same time. Since her graduation, most of her jobs have involved creativity in some capacity, although she never quite got over painting, her very first love.

I am so happy and proud that Steph has picked up the paint again, the world is a better place with her paintings and color palette in it! Here are a few samples of her work. I snagged these images from her web page (with her permission, of course!)

“Standout” Acrylic on canvas. She has been having fun with abstract work lately…

“Sweet Ocean” Acrylic on canvas.

“Circleville” Acrylic on canvas. One thing that you can always count on in Steph’s work: lots of color!

“Today” Acrylic on canvas. My absolute favorite of her current body of work. I am completely in love with the texture in this painting…steph3.jpg

Beautiful work Steph, I love it!
To see more of Steph’s work, check out her web page: