Photographers are born and made

A Short Biography for Liz Knutsen

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Becoming a Photographer

In 1983, a single Dad in New York had a quandary: "How to give his 12-year old daughter a Summer experience she would never forget. That little girl was Liz Knutsen and the answer to that quandary was "buy her a camera." It was a $50 all manual Hanimex camera. He taught her how to load it, compose an image, and expose the film, and 34 developed rolls of film and one short, sunny summer later, Liz Knutsen was hooked.

Throughout middle school and in high school, photography was Liz's constant, and the camera went where she went, testing out new ideas and practicing the math required by her manual camera. She read up on Ansel Adam's zone method, took critique classes, and learned how to develop her own prints in the darkroom, where again she would put her photographic mathematics to work.


In spite of her passion for photography, Liz excelled academically in High School and was admitted in the University of Virginia. Deciding on a major was one of the first hurdles in her photography career. While she questioned whether she should obtain a Fine Arts degree in Photography, her practical nature won out and she pursued another interest, psychology, a less artistic pathway perhaps, but this new path didn't deter from her photography, it only enhanced it.  Not to mention, coming in handy later with her focus on children as her favorite subject. 


After College

After graduation, she headed out west to Los Angeles, California. While her days were spent in the offices of an advertising agency, her nights were spent at Santa Monica College, further honing her photographic craft. She took every available class in photography, from learning the business side of photography to learning how to develop color prints. It was here that she began her career in freelance photography. 

You see, a person like Liz can't be trapped behind a desk for long, and soon, the advertising agency and its practical perks couldn't cage Liz's free and artistic spirit. Rather, she began taking on full-time positions in Los Angeles professional photography world. She worked for a Professional Film Lab as a client liaison for known fashion and portrait photographers and obtained an inside look into how the "pros" touched up their photos during developing and cropped them for publication. There, she worked with some of the best hand printers in the business. Meanwhile, she was building her own client base as a freelance photographer and taking on apprenticeships with some of the industries best. 


From LA to NYC

It was one such apprenticeship which brought her back to the east coast and New York City. In 1997, Liz began working with Gwendolen Cates, a celebrity photographer whose work includes portraits of Sheryl Crow, Michael Douglas, and Kevin Bacon, to name just a few. Her experience with Cates further developed her interest in portraiture photography and brought her further knowledge of the business side of the photography business.

While in New York, she met her husband and began a family. Life does have its ways of intervening, and soon after, they all found themselves in Charlottesville, VA. 


And New York back to Virginia

Now, Liz Knutsen is focused solely on her family and her work as a photographer. Her artistic motivation is to show the child's true self in their portrait, to allow parent's to see a "real expression" of their child in their element. This mission is actualized in her belief that her work should be delivered to her clients in a tangible format, such as, framed prints, wall galleries and printed cards, where these portraits may be on display to be cherished and adored daily. 

Children are real. There is no pretense. The time they give you reflects how fleeting childhood is. I want my photography to capture as many of these fleeting frames as possible, so that the moments can exist forever.
— Liz Knutsen