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Kamloops Tomorrow: Lisa Novak Photography

Let’s talk about Kamloops, actually, let’s talk about the future of Kamloops. Our team is connecting with innovative entrepreneurs from the Thompson Valley who are paving the way for a diverse, inclusive, and sustainable future to discuss the River City and what we need to tackle today to create the Kamloops of tomorrow. Welcome to Kamloops Tomorrow.

Lisa is a Kamloops portrait, wedding, and family photographer. She specializes in images that are timeless and possess a creative, modern edge. She is best known for her ability to put people at ease in front of the camera so she can capture each client’s unique personality.. Being able to showcase the true beauty of each subject is what makes her passionate about photography. 

Lisa Novak has a stunning studio in downtown Kamloops where she shoots beauty, graduation, and corporate portraits. She also takes headshots and works with clients who are interested in images that capture their personal brand. When she’s not shooting at the studio, you can find her adventuring around the diverse landscapes of the Thompson Okanagan, capturing the beauty of our region. 

Interview questions answered by Lisa Novak, interview conducted by Boom Business Solutions. 

Photo Credit: Lisa Novak Photography

Lisa Novak Photography is best known for showcasing your subject’s personality through the lens of your camera – not an easy feat!  Why is this so important to your business? Was there an ‘ah-ha!’ moment when you realized this was a skill you had?

I don’t think there was an ‘ah-ha!’ moment, but rather a growing recognition that I have the ability to draw people out from themselves. Putting people at ease and capturing their best selves with my camera is the heart and soul of my work. I have a growing reputation for my ability to make people feel great, and it makes me even more passionate about my job and my brand. 

I think showcasing a person’s personality, combined with an ability to make them feel calm and confident in front of the camera is what sets me apart.  It’s my superpower, you could say.  Many people believe they’re unphotogenic when really it’s just that being in front of the camera makes them feel awkward and uncomfortable, which in turn can make them look awkward and uncomfortable in photos.  I make it my mission to help them feel at ease and have fun. It gives me great joy when I can show them how amazing they look in their photos.  

When capturing content for small business social media, what are the most important tips you can give entrepreneurs? 

  • It’s important to create content that engages your target audience. 
  • It is vital to have a clear idea of your brand, both in terms of aesthetics (colours, fonts, etc) and in regard to what you want your brand to say about you, your business, and what you are offering your potential clients. .  
  • Your photos can say so much about you if you take a deep breath, let your fears go, and enjoy the creation process. 
  • If you and your team are on the same page with your content and have fun together, your images will have more impact because you’ll feel comfortable and let more of your authentic self out in front of the camera. 
  • Overall, just have fun with it and be yourself!

What was your career path? How did you get from being an aspiring photographer to actually doing it full time, for a living?

I have dabbled in photography since grade school. My mom was an excellent photographer, but she only did it for fun. When I had kids, the joy of documenting the moments when they were little ignited a spark. When my oldest was in Grade 2, we had them all in for school photos, even sneaking in my toddler for a sitting, and you know, the photos weren’t great. I found myself thinking I could do it better myself, so I did. Then my friends started asking me to take their photos, and one day a friend talked me into photographing her sister’s wedding as a gift. I borrowed a camera, spent weeks having nightmares, and shot the wedding. By the end of that day, I knew this was what I was meant to do. 

At the time I had a full time job as a legal secretary. In 2009, when we moved to Kamloops, I decided to jump in with both feet and just pursue photography to see if I could make it work. Knowing only one family in a new town made it tough, but persistence paid off. Once the ball got rolling, it just kept rolling faster, and here we are!

What technology/software/camera gear do you use to keep focused on what you do best as you are working?

In my opinion, as a photographer, knowing your gear is VITAL. I recently switched from a Nikon to a Sony mirrorless system. Once I really nailed down all the technical stuff, I could focus more on the art of photography, the art of light, the art of the face, and the art of drawing people out. The tech in these cameras is insane, and it’s expanded what I can do as a shooter. I’ve spent a lot of time getting acquainted with the menus and buttons so that when I’m shooting I don’t have to think about the gear, just about my subject.

Another big stepping stone in my business was getting comfortable shooting with different lighting setups— in the studio, outdoors, and on location. It took my work to a new level and gave me a whole other way to create with light.

For editing, I’ve always used the Adobe Suite. The programs are so full featured and can do everything I would ever need and more. Specifically, for editing, I use Lightroom and Photoshop almost exclusively, and I use InDesign to design and format all of my print materials.

What motivates you to continue taking pictures economically, politically, intellectually or emotionally?

Women can be especially hard on themselves. We focus so hard on how we think we’re flawed that we fail to see how beautiful we are. There is just something about working with someone who is camera shy, certain they’re totally not photogenic, or who is self-conscious about something and breaking through those concerns. Having them leave a session feeling more confident and “worth it” honestly fills my heart. I want every woman to feel like that when she gets in front of my camera. That is one of the things that is a passion in my work.

Economically, COVID has changed the face of a lot of things, and one of those things was how we work.  As the workforce pivoted to working online, many entrepreneurs realized they needed a visual presence to go with that and turned to personal branding sessions. These sessions, combined with updating family photos while everyone was staying at home, are the main reasons my business made it through COVID.

I get to work with a wide variety of people, with different beliefs, backgrounds, and ideas. Some of my conversations with them challenge me intellectually about my own belief systems and thought processes.  For me, a photo session isn’t just about taking photos, but about getting to know people and having conversations. I’ve learned a lot from the people I photograph.

We all are aware of the ‘metaverse’ – do you see unique opportunities for photographers to create in the AR/VR realm? Have you dabbled into that realm? 

The metaverse is a huge new ‘space’ with so many areas and opportunities. It’s still pretty new but it’s growing fast. Right now, I’m in the earliest of the learning phases, listening to podcasts and discovering what’s out there. The fact you can buy virtual land still blows my mind a bit! As far as opportunities, I think the metaverse holds huge potential for photographers, from selling art for decor in virtual spaces to exhibiting in online galleries. I haven’t dabbled in that realm yet, but I’m feeling the urge to do that soon. I have a decade’s worth of travel and landscape photographs that I took for fun because I love the architecture of both buildings and the earth itself. I think the metaverse would be a fantastic way to get those images out there.  

What advice do you have for someone looking to become a content creator for small businesses? 

Be passionate about people, get beyond the ‘job’ aspect of it, and build relationships. It’s also essential to enjoy what you do. If your heart’s in it, it will show in your work. Never stop having a learning mentality. Content creation is ever evolving and if you stop learning, you’ll stop creating relevant content.

When you have out-of-town guests visiting Kamloops, what do you recommend they see/do? 

Shop the downtown core – our boutique downtown shopping is fantastic! There’s something for everyone and meandering through all the fun shops is a great way to spend a sunny day with guests. I like good food, and Kamloops has a great selection of ethnic and niche restaurants Kamloops also has a great variety of arts and culture events worth checking out—a night at the symphony, a show put on by Western Canada Theatre, Art in the Park, an exhibit at the Art Gallery, or a musical act that’s passing through town.

Photo Credit: Lisa Novak Photography

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The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce is situated on the traditional and unceded lands of the Tk'emlups Te Secwepemc within Secwepemc'ulucw, the traditional territory of the Secwepemc people. We are honored to live and work and play on this land and acknowledge the complicated history and humbly move forward in a spirit of collaboration and gratitude.