Photo by Liz Banfield
Congratulations are in order for photographer Liz Banfield! The local shutterbug was recently named one of the best wedding photographers in the nation by Harper's Bazaar for her "timeless, cinematic quality" aesthetic. Beyond capturing the love stories of Twin Cities brides and grooms, the industry veteran—who has been published in Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides, and yours truly, among others—has also photographed the nuptials of national notables Sanjay Gupta and Elizabeth Graves. We spoke with Banfield about how she broke into the business, her favorite aspects of being a wedding photographer, and why she chooses to stay in Minnesota.
How did you first find photography?
My story is that I started as a hobby photographer when I was about 11 years old. I didn’t pursue it as a career, and although I was an art major in college, photography was really my hobby.
When did you decide to pursue it as a career?
My first career out of college was in advertising. I worked at Fallon for about six years as an account executive. While I worked there, one of [the accounts I worked on] was Nikon. Through my job, [I met] some of the world’s best photographers. It suddenly opened up a world to me that I hadn’t been looking at before. I just had an epiphany that I was meant to be a photographer. Here I had been training for it my whole life and I hadn’t really thought of it as a career until that moment. And that’s when I left my job and went straight to launching my photography business.
[When I quit Fallon in 1998] wedding photography was really changing. It was really all of a sudden an art form and treated as an art form. It worked for me because everyone around me was getting married and I already shot in this more photojournalistic, loose style. The timing happened to be kind of perfect.
What’s your favorite aspect about wedding photography?
I’m naturally drawn to things that are beautiful and lyrical and lovely. A wedding has a lot of that. On a really basic level, you’re archiving this for a family and helping them remember their day, but 18 years in, there’s other stuff that interests me. You always have to look for the art in what’s happening and that process is really exciting to me.
How would you describe your style of photography?
I’m going for something very timeless because I believe that what’s happening naturally at a wedding is ultimately really timeless. The key words for me are classic, cinematic, and beautiful.
Where do most of your weddings take place?
When I started out, a lot of my clients were from Fallon, and a lot of those people weren’t from Minnesota, so my market went national right away. I just got back from Dallas and the wedding before that was in San Francisco. My next wedding is in South Hampton and after that I’m in Michigan and Chicago. So I really consider myself a national photographer, but I love a great local wedding. I have two this year and last summer I had three.
What makes you stay in Minnesota since you travel so often for work?
I really could live almost anywhere, because I fly to most of my jobs anyways, but I really love living in Minnesota. I enjoy the change of seasons. My husband and I are raising our kids here and it’s been a great ride. I grew up in Rochester; I feel like I’m a Minnesota girl and I just love it here. That’s why I stayed.