Hailed as one of the world’s top photographers by Harper’s BAZAAR, Martha Stewart Weddings, and BRIDES, Liz Banfield Photography is a Minnesota-based photographer whose work is known around the globe. In this Expert Interview, we get to know the person behind the lens, discover where she finds inspiration, and what advice she has for aspiring photographers.
About Liz Banfield Photography
A Rochester native, Liz had been a hobby photographer since age 11. “I didn’t pursue it as a career initially. After graduating from a liberal arts college with a degree in Art History I worked as an executive at a large advertising agency in the Twin Cities,” she explains. This was around the time where wedding photography was at a turning point from being traditional to going more candid. “My friends were starting to get married and they used to say to me, ‘I don’t want a wedding photographer. I want the kind of photos you take at parties!’” This is when she began shooting weddings on the weekend and the business took off quickly.
What sets Liz Banfield Photography apart is that she does not only focus on weddings but also commercial and editorial photography. Though she has always lived in Minnesota, her clients are all over the country, “I guess you could call me the original ‘remote worker’.”
When asked what has been the most rewarding part of managing a business she says, “I am always happiest when I’m creating. The very act of shooting is definitely my favorite part of the job.” She goes on to say that running her own business without any staff can certainly be challenging as she wears every hat, including doing her own payroll. “The challenge is to make sure I don’t let myself get buried in those tasks so that I have enough energy to create as well,” she states.
Inspiration is Everywhere
Banfield’s work has been featured in many national publications, including VOGUE, where she has gained priceless insight and experience, “Shooting for magazines is a great way to collaborate with top-level creatives. I’ve learned so much while shooting editorial,” she says. It has even led her to photograph incredible events like Martha Stewart’s Easter celebration for Martha Stewart Living. She lives for moments like these whether editorial-based or wedding, “I was once shooting a wedding at a small, old-school venue in New York City, and the family had arranged a live, surprise performance by the Rockettes. I really thought the roof might come off the building. It was so exciting!”
And while she has been acclaimed and awarded internationally, she remains humble, “It’s a nice boost but I think my ideal clients already know that what I create is distinctive and special. My goal remains to create imagery that I am proud to share with the world. The rest seems to fall into place,” she explains.
Banfield has been fond of seeking inspiration through magazines since a young age, “It was a window into the wider world. Titles such as Vogue, Martha Stewart Living, or Condé Nast Traveler offer a wealth of creativity and inspiration.” Recently, she has been diving into smaller publications, “Lately I’ve been turning to boutique magazines such as YOLO, which is created by Yolanda Edwards, a former Editorial Photo Director at Condé Nast,” she says.
“John Dolan of New York was an early influencer and continues to be a role model for me as a photographer who does great work across categories,” she describes of her industry idols. She also enjoys exploring museums, like the Minneapolis Institute of Art, to find inspiration in the artwork as well as the photography.
What’s Next for Liz Banfield Photography
Right now, Banfield loves seeing the micro wedding trend, “I think seeing people adapt to the times have couples questioning the usual/expected way of doing a wedding. I think couples feel freer to do what they want, wear what they want, and cut out some of the unnecessary trappings.” And she’s hopeful that the next generations of weddings become a bit more sustainable, “I’d personally love to curb waste that comes with events, everything from useless items in the welcome bag — housekeeping at hotels across the world will attest! — to carpet from custom tents being thrown away after the wedding. I’d love to see all vendors assessing their impact and guiding clients to make less wasteful decisions.”
As a busy photographer always on the go, she has some advice for those looking to balance work and life, “You must prioritize not getting burned out. Be mindful about how much work you can realistically handle. If you master that, family life falls into place,” she advises. “I try not to feel sorry for myself when I work weekends, holidays, birthdays, etc. because I know I also have the flexibility most working parents don’t have. I grab those opportunities when I can. It does balance out in the end.”
We asked her what the future holds for Liz Banfield Photography and she said, “I’m hoping that the future looks a lot like my present, actually.” She explains that having traveled the world, meeting amazing families, and making friends are what drive her to want to continue this path. Though like many wedding services this year, she is busy with rescheduled events from 2020, she has some innovative ideas coming up next, “I’ve also got my eye on organizing creative retreats for like-minded artists in 2022-23.”
See Banfield’s published work in VOGUE, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Harper’s BAZAAR, and follow her on Instagram to stay up-to-date on all of her adventures!
All photos by Liz Banfield Photography