On Photography: Lauri Novak, 1963-present

On Photography: Lauri Novak, 1963-present


 “How can I see this and photograph it differently? What is a way no one has photographed this before?”  -Lauri Novak

Lauri Novak is a photographer specializing in seeing the world differently. Her work features architecture and nature.

Opening photo

Top row, l-r: Church of Our Lady, Bruges, Belgium, Cyclist in front of The Broad Museum, Chicago, IL, Sky and Stone The Getty Museum, The Chair

Bottom row, clockwise l-r: Whale Fluke, Antarctica, Arctic Iceberg and Mountains, Arctic Reflections, Half Moon Island, Antarctica

Since she was 10

Lauri Novak got her first camera in her pre-teen years. She was 10. “I can’t imagine I’d be me without one,” she says. “It’s my therapy and I love being able to help others with their own work, to expand and grow in how they see.”

Lauri Novak works in dental education. At the same time, she has her camera with her everywhere she goes. It doesn’t matter if she is in her hometown of Elgin, Illinois or in one of her favorite places to photograph architecture — downtown Chicago.

Be in the location

Lauri Novak is deliberate in the way she photographs. “One of the main things I do is to allow myself actually to be in the moment,” she says. “Be in the location and take it all in before I put the camera up to my eye. I believe that you can’t really capture the essence of a place if you don’t live it, feel it and experience it first.”

Seeing differently

“My photography reflects my perspective and personality. I have always had a bit of a different way of looking at the world. I feel fortunate not to have gone along with the crowd, just following trends.” Lauri Novak says. “Even though it wasn’t always seen as “right,” my viewpoint and way of being have pushed through in my work.”

On Photography: Lauri Novak 1969-present
Lauri Novak shooting in Chicago. Photo by Jeff Turner

Lauri Novak not only sees differently. She shoots that way. She looks for angles and compositions that others miss. Her practice of being in a place fully before taking a photograph shows in her work that hangs in many Chicago art museums.

Arctic voyage

In June 2016 Lauri Novak traveled to the Arctic aboard the ship Akademik Sergey Vavilov. She was one of about 50 photographers on the expedition. They were learning to photograph with everything in motion. The boat and the people on it were moving. The water was too. So were the animals. All that movement made taking photos a challenge. There were four professional photographers on the trip. They helped answer questions. Every evening they held a photographic briefing to go over some of the work. They gave tips on how to improve.

Lauri Novak loves to travel. She says, “The world is always on my list, anywhere and everywhere.”

On Photography: Lauri Novak 1963-present
Lauri Novak in the Arctic

Words to live by

Lauri Novak finds inspiration in the words of photographer Elliot Erwitt.

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” -Elliot Erwitt

Sources: In the Viewfinder, Artsy Shark, Happier Place, Ugo Cei.

Read about other inspirational photographers in On Photography.