As I was going back through old posts here on my SEE site, I came across this interview from 2016. I thought it would be a good exercise to go back and re-answer the questions and share them with you.
For those of you who are new here, it will shed some light on who I am and why I do what I do. If you already know me, maybe you’ll learn something new about me.
Today (2016) we have with us Lauri Novak, who can’t imagine her life without a camera. Lauri traveled around the US more than most at an early age and learned to appreciate the world around her. She started looking at things with a different perspective, appreciating what she saw and is now turning that passion into a business.
Working part-time in the dental industry allows Lauri quite a bit of flexibility which is the perfect situation to pursue and spend time on her photography.
I still have a passion for travel and these past two years without it have been a challenge for me (and many of us I’m sure.)
Fortunately, at the end of 2018, I was able to quit my job in the dental industry. Whew. I became much calmer, less stressed and just a much happier person. While part-time allowed me to spend some time on my photography since 2019 I’ve been able to work more on helping others and creating fine art.
How and when did you start photography?
This section remains the same.
I received my first camera when I was 10, it was a Kodak Instamatic X-15. A friend in grade school whose dad was a photographer with a darkroom in the basement. As we got older we were allowed to play with his cameras and in the darkroom.
When I started working at 16 I bought a Minolta XG-1 SLR with my first paycheck. I never took courses but wrote every single frame down in a notebook to record exposure, ISO, shutter speed, time of day, lighting and weather conditions. It was the best way to learn in my opinion. I never really looked back.
In 2009 my husband surprised me with a Canon T1i DSLR. I still have a Canon AE-1 film camera that I use. I’ve always had a camera and always taken photos and I can’t imagine stopping anytime soon!
What all social platforms are you active on?
All of them! Sometimes I feel like it’s all of them, there are so many. Here’s the list: Facebook. Instagram. Google+. Twitter. Flickr. 500px. Fine Art America. RedBubble. Ello. Creative Market. Crated. I think that covers the major sites I’m on.
I sell my art online and have ventured into the local (Chicago area) art fair scene in the last year and am looking forward to this season. I participate in local art groups, exhibits and gallery showings as well. Some of my images have been used commercially for a magazine cover, hotel lobbies and public transportation advertisements.
I still feel like I’m everywhere although I have weeded out several of those platforms listed above.
You can find me on the following social media sites, feel free to follow me:
I also still sell my work online. Different platforms for different audiences and uses. Some are fine art sites for the general public, others are agency-type sites for selling into commercial accounts. I also sell a bit of stock imagery as well. Every little bit helps. You likely know I no longer exhibit at art fairs and that I have exclusive images at Springboard Arts Gallery in Chicago.
It’s an ever-changing market and the ways to get your work out there are constantly changing as well. It is sometimes overwhelming to try to keep up.
Any interesting photography-related anecdote that you want to share with our readers?
I’ve consistently been told over the years that I have an ‘eye’. Specifically, I remember on a trip in college someone asking me what I was shooting as I had my camera pointed at an orange flower coming through a green gridded fence. My reply, “Don’t you see that?” To this day it’s the one question I get asked the most; “How do you see what you see”?
This is still what defines my work. Seeing differently and being able to translate that into unique images. I would like to share that you can learn this. There are things you can do to SEE beyond the first image your mind sees in the viewfinder. Practice, do exercises, limit yourself. These are all helpful in pushing yourself to create your own vision and your own unique style and images.
You seem to travel a lot, which is great. How do you manage time for your outdoor visits?
Traveling is in my blood. I grew up going somewhere new within the US every summer and had been to 36/50 states by the time I was 16. Whenever I traveled for work, I made sure I had time to explore as much as possible.
I don’t travel nearly as much as I used to or as much as I’d like, but whenever the opportunity presents itself I do whatever I can to make it happen. Most of my travels now are non-business related which works great for getting out, exploring and shooting new places.
Well, after this past year and a half of non-travel, I’m so beyond ready to get out of town. Small trips have happened but my wondering spirit is ready to go bigger, go explore new countries and areas that I’ve never been before. Plans are being made!
Any accolades/achievements you would like to highlight?
I’ve had an image on the cover of a magazine (My USA Magazine) which was very exciting. Recently I’ve been exhibiting at juried art fairs and have won a couple of awards with them and our local art league has juried gallery shows throughout the year in which I’ve also won awards. A couple of my images are hanging in a downtown Chicago hotel, also very exciting for me.
Since 2016, I’ve added a few achievements. As mentioned above, having exclusive images at Springboard Arts Gallery is exciting. I’ve sold a few more pieces for commercial accounts as well. Entering and placing one year and winning in one category another year in an international competition was rewarding and along with that, I was able to exhibit a few of my pieces in Barcelona.
What advice would you like to give to the upcoming photographers?
Play! This is the biggest piece of advice I give out. Yes, it’s a technical hobby, yes you need to learn your camera, you need to know what happens when you change settings and you need to know how to set up your camera to get the shots you want, but, it’s also art and it’s creative.
Getting out and shooting, experimenting, having fun and just playing is a great way to learn, to start seeing differently. Digital photography allows us to make many mistakes, there is no cost in shooting a shot hundreds of different ways, so why not do it?
Not much to add here I don’t think. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, unapologetically yourself in your work. Do what you love, create the images that speak to you and others will feel and see that when they view your work.
Think like a child again. Use your imagination. Ask ‘what if’. Play.