The original results of studies of the electro-optical and laser effects which have been performed at the Laboratory of Liquid Crystals of the Institute of Crystallography, Russian Academy of Sciences, over the last few years are reviewed. Cholesteric liquid crystals as vivid representatives of photonic structures and their behavior in an electric field are considered in detail. The formation of higher harmonics in the periodic distribution of the director field in a helical liquid crystal structure and, correspondingly, the new (anharmonic) mode of electro-optical effects are discussed. Another group of studies is devoted to bistable light switching by an electric field in chiral nematics. Polarization diffraction gratings controlled by an electric field are also considered. The results of studies devoted to microlasers on various photonic structures with cholesteric and nematic liquid crystals are considered in detail. Particular attention is given to the new regime: leaky-mode lasing. Designs of liquid crystal light amplifiers and their polarization, field, and spectral characteristics are considered in the last section.