Lauri Novak turns the ordinary into art by how she sees and frames the world. She inspires us to change our perspective and discover the extraordinary and the beauty all around us.
Lauri Novak is a fine art photographer who lives in Elgin, Illinois, about an hour west of Chicago. Since her childhood in St. Charles (just a few towns south), Lauri has traveled extensively in the US and overseas.
Maybe it’s not completely fair to put such an emphasis on Lauri Novak photographing “the ordinary” – because we’ve seen plenty of her photos that were taken in extraordinary places, like the Arctic. But as you can already see from the photos featured in this post, whenever she photographs an already unique subject, she elevates it even more by how she captures it – making it still more outstanding.
Also, we’ve been so struck and inspired by some of her recent “ordinary things” photo series that focused solely on ice, windows or “things seen around the hospital” that we can’t stop thinking about those.
She makes you stop and consider what all around you may have a hidden beauty that’s just waiting for you to discover it. In this sense, both her photos of everyday settings and of gorgeous landscapes uplift our spirits and remind us that life is full of beauty and adventure. We just have to open our eyes and seek it.
Lauri doesn’t just take stunning photographs that inspire and bring joy. She also teaches, mentors, organizes photo walks in Chicago and writes about photography and all that it entails (e.g., technical, business, philosophical) on her own blog and for various online publications like PhotoFocus.
Because her photography and her philosophy line up so perfectly with what we are wanting to communicate and inspire via Happier Place, we are super pleased that she answered a few questions for us and you.
What do you do?
I have a ‘real’ job, part time in the dental education industry but my passion is photography and traveling. I love to show people new perspectives and new ways to see the world around them.
Why do you do what you do?
I have had a camera since I was 10 years old. I can’t imagine I’d be me without one. It’s my therapy and I love being able to help others with their own work, to expand and grow in how they see.
General Happy Place category?
Mountains for sure. I am so not a beach person; boring, too hot, just does not excite me. The mountains though, majestic, beautiful, and they take my breath away.
Specific Happy Place locations?
Lake Tahoe on the California/Nevada border is one of my all time Happy Places. This was the destination of my first solo trip and I fell in love with it.
Lake Como, Italy, would have to be another one, simply stunning scenery from the mountains to the little villages dotted along the coast.
My nearby Happy Place would be downtown Chicago. I have always loved and been interested in architecture, and Chicago is one of the top cities in the world as far as architecture is concerned. I love wandering the city with my camera finding new buildings, different angles and perspectives and always trying to find a new way to shoot the old favorites.
What do you always bring out into nature with you?
My sense of wonder and inner child.
Do you have any Happier Place tips?
One of the main things I do is to allow myself to actually BE in the moment, 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.
A dream destination (in space or time)?
Antarctica is next on my list. The world is always on my list, anywhere and everywhere.
Words of Inspiration?
Elliot Erwitt summed it up best when he said, “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.”
Find Lauri Novak and her photography online:
The photo featuring Lauri Novak was taken by Ron Clifford in Spitzbergen (Svalbard), Arctic Ocean. All other photos in this post were taken by Lauri Novak. Click on any of Lauri’s photos to see a larger version… and to order a print if you’re so inclined.