Monday, September 27, 2010

meet and greet Laura Novak

We are so happy to welcome Laura Novak to the Savvy blog.

Welcome Laura, will you start by telling us where you work and live.

Thank you for having me! I am happy to be here.

I live and work in Wilmington, Delaware. I have two retail spaces, one in Wilmington and one in Glen Mills, PA.

How would you describe your style of photography?

I would say that my style is connected. It’s really important to me to be present during the photo sessions, to bring my heart and soul to the session and connect with my subject. Children know when you are just humoring them, or if you really care. They are very intuitive. I love to make images that tell the story of who a person is, my favorite images are often of customers I have known for a long time because I develop a relationship with the child and then communicate who they are through the photograph. I love it when a client says “wow, that is SO my child.” To me, the creative process of achieving a great image is a collaborative effort between myself and the subject.

What inspires you as a photographer?

Truly... my clients inspire me. The more I have an opportunity to get to know my clients, the better the images are. My favorite images are always of families that I know really well because by letting me ‘in’ I have more of an opportunity to tell their story through photography in a meaningful way. My best new ideas come from talking with customers and learning about what is important to them.

How long have been a photographer?

I have been a photographer for about 10 years. I started out mainly photographing weddings, assisting a wedding photographer in college when I was living in the Boston area. After college I moved from Boston to Delaware and started my own photography business as a wedding photographer and loved all the wonderful people I met on that journey. After a few years, my wedding clients started having children and asked me to photograph their kids and this is when I absolutely fell in love with children's portraiture. Since then, I have been photographing fewer weddings and more children - and now I book a few select weddings a year and mainly fill my calendar with families.

When you're not photographing, where can we find you?

At bikram yoga, playing with my dogs in our neighborhood, lunch with friends, hanging out with my husband, going for a long walk or run, and antique shopping.

Any books that inspired you {or helped you} in your business?

Everyone in our company is required to read ‘How to win friends and influence people’ by Dale Carnegie when they first start with us. The title is a little funny but it’s simply a book on practicing old fashioned values and simply how to be a nice person.

Best marketing idea?

Creating beautiful collections for the walls of our studio to give customer ideas of what to do in their homes.

Worst marketing idea?

Hiring a publicist without a lot of experience or substance (I now have a wonderful publicist with great ideas and lots of substance).

Do you feel having a studio has made your business grow?

Yes - I think as a portrait photographer it’s really important to be able to show ideas and wall collections to your customers so they can imagine what the concept would look like in their homes. Now that we are onto our our third studio we have learned how to present our ideas and concept to clients in a way that is exciting to them. It’s important to me to create a space where immediately when the customer walks in they experience the five senses right away – smell (we usually have a candle lit), taste (there is usually candy out), sight (a simple, easy display to look at along with fresh flowers), touch (we usually try to have something tactile they can touch) and sound (we often have a light, relaxing XM station playing). Being able to host our clients in this way I think enhances the experience we are able to provide them.

Any regrets having a studio?

Our Pennsylvania location is located in a large shopping center – our neighbors in the center are the Gap, Gap Kids, Banana Republic, and other major retailers. I was in over my head negotiating the lease and despite good legal counsel and a broker, there were many items I ended up in a negative position on once I realized what the lease actually meant! I wish I had known about some of the main aspects to a lease you can get screwed on when it comes to commercial real estate but it was a good lesson and will never happen to us again!

What do you think makes a photographer successful?

Start out with a business plan – know how much money you need to get going, the kind of customers you want to bring in the door and take the time to understand what is going to be required. Most people I have talked to in my workshops (women especially) fall into the photography by accident and don’t really have a plan for what they are going to charge, how they are going to get customers, how much money it is going to take to start and when they can start taking a salary. Then they are not taken very seriously by their spouses or family and become upset or frustrated which creates conflict. It’s always best to establish expectations in advance – for yourself and everyone else in your life!

What’s your weakness in this business?

I love moving forward on a lot of different ideas at once, and over time I’m learning the importance of focus. It’s not only important for me, but for my staff, who needs leadership from me in the form of constantly communicating a consistent direction without switching gears every time I have a new idea. I still have new ideas all the time so I have make sure to stop myself and prioritize (it’s a work in progress!).


Savvy indulgence? Really good soap and shower products. I love L'Occitane and Red Flower.

Ideal getaway? Four Seasons Costa Rica.

Favorite thing in your closet? A fitted top made with black vintage leather that the owners of Kooba gave me during a photo shoot.

Are you a Nikon or Canon girl? Which model do you use? Canon 5d Mark ii.

Favorite lens? 50 1.2

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

psychologist specializing in family relationships (not much different than photography, right?)

Can you give the Savvy readers your best piece of advice for starting or running a photography business.

They should follow their intuition, rather than over-think something and thus over-ride their gut feeling. I have learned to trust my intuition over the years, because every time I don’t I end up regretting it. At this point, if something doesn’t feel right I won’t even consider it. A woman’s intuition is a gift.

Tell us your proudest moment of your career~

Almost two years ago, I was on a shuttle bus coming back to Delaware from the Philadelphia airport and the only other two people on the bus were Nurses from our local Children’s Hospital. We started talking and came up with the idea to have a wall of hope in their NICU unit, which was recently built. Once the head NICU nurse got wind of the idea, she really drove it forward because she wanted it so badly for her patients. Last spring we revealed a dozen 24x36 prints with each child’s story in the NICU hallway of our local hospital during a ceremony honoring the participants. The reveal was very emotional for myself and the families involved and now I’m working on our newest project,a charity foundation.

Here is where you can find Laura...


If you are in need a business plan, Laura is offering Savvy readers a

50% off  with the discount code “fallsale”

Check out

We are thrilled to take the savvy readers on a tour of the studio of Laura Novak. It's dreamy...seriously one of the best studio tours. I think she has amazing style and her decorating is top notch. Enjoy the tour. :)


  1. I studied with Laura at Learnfest and I have to say, she changed my business for the better. She is a brilliant business woman and fabulous photographer.

  2. Loved reading Laura Novack's interview and seeing her studio tour. She is an inspiration to all of us.

  3. i loved reading about you laura, thanks for sharing!
    love your studio!

  4. thank you so much for the feature and kind words! it was an honor to be part of your blog :)

  5. HOW FUN - thanks for showing us around! Amazing!

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