Prints That Win: Back Alley Beauty

When Chicago, Ill.-based photographer Michael Novo attended a destination wedding as a guest several years ago in Monte Carlo, he captured a brilliant shot of the bride on the stairs with a point-n-shoot camera. Everything was perfect: the lighting, the composition, the ambiance and of course, the bride. Excited about his newly discovered talent, Novo came home from Monte Carlo and immediately purchased nicer equipment. However, as he started delving deeper into the world of photography, he realized that perfect shots don’t just happen.

“I learned that I couldn’t rely on the light to just be right. I had to create the perfect lighting. I got lucky before, having the right lighting and right setting,” Novo says of his initial foray into professional photography.

After treating it as more of a hobby and dabbling a bit, he decided to show his work to some trusted friends in the industry. They offered some constructive feedback and suggested that he take classes and compete. Novo started working with a bog-box studio with two additional local area photographers, doing 40-50 wedding per year. Initially, he was hired as the third photographer, eventually moving up to second, and finally earning the Lead photographer position. Although he was gaining experience with the studio, the much-needed training was still elusive.

Finally, after about two years of event photography, Novo discovered a couple of photographers who drew him in with their style. He attended two separate 5-day workshops with Knoxville-based Bryan Allen. Allen’s Savannah and Knoxville workshops were beneficial in helping Novo learn the artistic aspects of photography. Working with technical specialist Kevin Kubota helped him learn more about the lighting and editing facets of the industry. He continues to work with both mentors and will be joining Kubota for a motorcycle tour through Italy later this year.

Through all of the training, workshops, event opportunities and practicing that Novo has accomplished over the years, the best piece of advice for improving his craft came from Grand Master of WPPI, Jerry Ghionis. The advice? One word: “compete.” As Novo learned when he first started competing, “you really aren’t as good as you think you are, but with each competition, you learn something. About you or the art, or the competitors. You go in against the best of the best. There are no levels, no ‘beginner’ groups. You are immediately tested and pushed to your limits. That’s how you improve.”

His wedding portraits are created to bring out the personalities of his clients, and that’s just what he did with his Sunset Print Award-winning print “Back Alley Beauty.” As a first-time recipient of the prestigious Sunset Print Award, Novo said the opportunity to capture the happy couple as they walked into their nuptials was too hard to pass up. “It’s important they see their style in the images. I’m taking the photos for them, not for me.”

Looking at his body of work and seeing the joy he brings to his clients on their special day, Novo realizes he’s come a long way from that first destination wedding image he captured. For him, it’s not how often one of his images is viewed, it’s about evoking emotion. As for his signature style, he says, “You might view it [an image] often, or you may view it rarely. But you will always feel it.” As long as you feel it, he’s done his job.

The 50 Best Wedding Photos of 2011? You be the Judge

Best wedding photography of 2011The end of one year and the beginning of another ring in the compilations of various lists, whether it’s the best-of or worst-of, and everything in between for every subject imaginable. Photography is no exception.

Invariably, all these end-of-year lists are controversial to one degree or another. Heck, I was Time Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2006 (but, then again, so were you). And so it goes, even with photography lists. Ultimately, such lists are incredibly subjective. What data can use to support the best artwork of 2011, be it photographic, painted or digital? You can’t, but that’s not the point.

Junebug Weddings, based in Seattle, recently compiled what it considers the top 50 wedding photos of 2011, based on almost 5,000 images submitted by 500 top wedding photographers. The 50-best collection includes the work of Jerry Ghionis, Ben Chrisman, Susan Stripling and Marcus Bell. It’s Junebug’s fourth annual collection of the best wedding photography of the year.

Click here to see what Junebug Wedding chose as the Best of the Best in 2011 wedding photography and see if you agree with the choices. And, give me a call at 800-453-9538 or email with your personal Best of the Best photography, whether it’s wedding, portrait, commercial, landscape, or anything else you shot that was noteworthy in 2011. It’s a bonus if you printed them on LexJet Sunset papers or canvas.

WPPI Announces Keynote with an Aussie Twist and Seminar Schedule

Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) announces the complete 2011 keynote presentation and seminar schedule for Wednesday, Oct. 26 at the WPPI NYC @ PhotoPlus show. The Expo, will be held Thursday and Friday, Oct. 27-28 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City.

For the first time, the Wedding and Portrait Photographer’s International (WPPI) show will become an integral part of PhotoPlus Expo, complete with a full expo consisting of leading industry manufacturers and a comprehensive series of seminars, roundtable discussions and a keynote presentation scheduled for Wednesday, October 26, the day before PhotoPlus Expo officially opens.

In addition to the keynote presentation, 15 seminars focused on wedding and portrait photography will be presented by industry icons including Doug Gordon, Jasmine Star, Bambi Cantrell, Ken Sklute, Me Ra Koh, Tamara Lackey, and Lindsay Adler, to name a few, and for the first time, a series of seminars will be presented in Spanish.

To view the entire WPPI NYC seminar schedule for Oct. 26, visit the seminar listing at Seminars can be listed by track, topic, presenter name, and date for easy access and registration.

This year’s keynote speaker, Australian Jerry Ghionis, will share how he has defined his unique style and look over the years, which continues to evolve but doesn’t become predictable. Called Imitate, Emulate and Innovate, Ghionis will explain how he uses inspiration outside the wedding industry to influence his creativity and style. Check out Ghionis’ world-class photography at

WPPI NYC is the first ever WPPI Expo to take place on the East Coast, co-locating with PhotoPlus Expo this fall in new exhibit space at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. Attendees who register for WPPI NYC will also have full access to attend the PhotoPlus Expo. The pre-registration rate to attend all WPPI NYC seminars, WPPI NYC Expo and PhotoPlus Expo is $99. On-site registration will be $150. In addition, all registered attendees of the PhotoPlus Expo will have full access to WPPI NYC.

The Super Bowl of Photography, PhotoPro Expo, Half off until Aug. 31

PhotoPro Expo 2012 has a superstar lineup for Super Bowl Weekend, 2012, and the price of the convention is half off until 10 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Aug. 31. Regularly priced at $279, the convention is only $139 if you register at before Wednesday.

Photography expo with famous photographersSpeakers include Photoshop guru Scott Kelby, the legendary Jerry Ghionis, Skip Cohen of Skip’s Summer School, top portrait photographer Kirk Volklain, NYC fashion photographer Lindsay Adler, best-selling Speed Lighting author Syl Arena, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Vincent Laforet, branding expert Sarah Petty, Smithsonian American History museum featured artist Joel Grimes, and retouch and image enhancement authority Janice Wendt.

The event takes place Feb. 2-5, 2012 at the Marriott River Center in Covington, Ky., just across the river from Cincinnati. The first 100 to register will be entered into a drawing for $500 in prizes. Plus, the first 100 get VIP treatment, including VIP seating and VIP fast check-in.

For more information and to register go to or call PhotoPro Network HQ at 606-928-5333.