In this age of selfies and Snapchat filters it’s easy to forget the power of an actual portrait. One not taken with a selfie stick, but by a real photographer using a real camera that doesn’t double as a phone. I recently got to do a modern portrait session with Michael Novo Photography and not only was it a surprisingly fun time, I was blown away by how talented Michael is behind a lens.
Michael Novo is a Chicago-based photographer whose specialty is light. I’m not trying to get all godly on you — Michael manipulates light to create stunning photos. One of his signature tricks is called “light painting,” where he manually focuses light in different areas of the scene and meshes several different photos together to create a magically artistic image. (Seriously, check these out.)
But even when he’s not meshing several photos together, Michael knows how to create dramatic photos. I was a little skeptical of having a solo photo session but absolutely loved the experience. Here’s how it went down.
Modern Portrait Session with Michael Novo Photography
Step 1: Make Up
The first part of the modern portrait session was getting makeup done by a makeup artist at Michael’s studio. While most women would jump at the chance, I actually squirmed. The idea of people seeing me without makeup and having someone else use my face as a canvas makes me incredibly uncomfortable. But after some coaxing from Michael and my friend (plus a glass of wine or two), I realized it was actually kind of fun.
Step 2: Wardrobe
I came to Michael’s studio armed with some of my favorite outfits. Once Michael saw the black lace gown I wore to the New Year’s Eve Ball at the palace in Vienna and realized how awesome it would look in the snow, we dashed outside. I’ve never hung out in a snowstorm in a formal gown before but it was surprisingly fun. (And surprisingly I didn’t fall on my face!)
In a stroke of true photographic genius, as we were driving back to the studio through an alley, the steam from a nearby dryer vent fogged up the entire street and Michael and his assistant Erica immediately saw the potential for an incredible photo. I hopped out of the car, walked through the steamy snow and the end result is below.
Step 3: Studio Session
The rest of the shoot was spent in Michael’s studio, where he could control the lighting and pose me down to my fingers. He has such an incredible eye for what makes someone look their best and watching him work was such a treat. I’m so used to smacking a big cheesy grin on my face when someone takes a picture of me, so not smiling took a little getting used to, but I love the way the photos turned out.
Not only was Michael able to capture me in my best light (pun intended), it was also such a confidence boost to see myself the way someone else sees me (except with a little more makeup on!).
Step 4: Photo Reveal
A few weeks later I returned to Michael’s studio in Uptown to see all the photos. It was so crazy walking into a room covered in photos of myself! All the photos were printed and mounted on mats. I picked my favorites (the number depends on the package purchased) and even got a keepsake box to put them in. (It’s sort of visible in the very top photo.) I also got the digital files so I can plaster them all over online (hello new profile pic!).
Details on Modern Portrait Sessions
Information on the modern portrait sessions with Michael Novo Photography is on the website here where you can also check out the entire glamour gallery (including some of my photos!) plus his amazing engagement and wedding photography.
Thank you, Michael, for such a fun afternoon and the incredible photos!
Disclaimer :: I was graciously treated to my photo and makeup session by Michael Novo Photography to be used for his portfolio. As always, all opinions are my own.