Larry Kanfer Photography Gallery

Meet Larry

Larry Kanfer

In all of my photography, I like to look at things with an outsider’s eyes. If you look at a familiar place from a new angle or at a different time of day, it creates a completely different environment than you knew existed. I try to celebrate the subtle details of human existence and daily routines that are often overlooked by highlighting these accidental discoveries in my surroundings. The generations of lifecycles intertwined with the land create serendipitous meaning, beauty, and richness all around us. While on the surface, the Midwestern landscape may appear barren, beneath the surface I see layers and layers of human efforts nurturing each other and the landscape to exist in concert with the whims of nature. When someone looks at one of my photographs, I hope it evokes some emotion... a sense of personal history, a sense of the land being worked, a sense of the fullness of time.

A longtime resident of Champaign-Urbana, Larry graduated from the University of Illinois in 1979. Immediately afterwards, he opened his own photography gallery, which he has maintained since then. With a career spanning over thirty years, Larry has had the rare opportunity of making his art his profession.

Larry's works are shown in galleries, museums, and private and corporate collections across the United States. Praised by ARTnews, the Associated Press, and the Washington Post, he is primarily known as the pre-eminent photographer of Midwestern Prairiescapes. This collection has garnered comparisons to the works of Eliot Porter and Ansel Adams. His portfolios also contain major collections of other American landscapes and cityscapes, along with collections featuring Southern Europe, China, and India. To date, Larry has published six critically acclaimed books and award-winning calendars for the past thirteen years.

Larry currently lives in Central Illinois with his wife Alaina and their two children, two cats and a dog.


The Early Story

Larry became interested in photography at a young age. "In my fifth grade science class, I made my first photograph. It was the coolest thing. I watched, as the image of my hand and the comb magically appeared as I held the paper in the developing tray.  I was hooked.

"The very next year, my family took a cross-country train trip from Portland to the East coast. It was August when we reached the Midwest -- I was awed by its flatness and infinite horizon line. The corn was ten feet tall, covering any evidence of life that might have been there! All I could see were endless rows of corn, mile after mile. I wondered – does anyone even live there?!"

Larry Kanfer

Later, he and his family moved to the Midwest. "At first I was stunned, there seemed to be nothing.  But quickly, I became intrigued with what was over the horizon line, and for my entire professional career now, I have developed a deep respect for the prairie and its subtleties."

This interest in the land, and the connection between people and their environment, is a vital part of Larry’s work.

Throughout college, Larry supported himself with his photography, specializing in portraits and wedding photography. In his spare time, he photographed the prairie of central Illinois. Kanfer acknowledges "...that no doubt my concepts of light and shadow, form, and composition were greatly influenced by my studies in architecture. But I was paying for the architecture classes with my photography. I had been developing my own images since I was 10 years old. I always loved the special challenges inherent in photography, I just wasn't sure I could make a living at it." An apt observer of customers’ tastes, his integrity and persistence helped jumpstart his career. After receiving his degree in architecture from the University of Illinois, he began to pursue his passion, photography, as his profession.

As an active member of the community for decades, Larry has been involved with service and mentoring. Currently, Larry serves on the Planning Commission for the Village of Savoy, on the Board of, and spearheaded planning the Human Festival of Savoy (on hold due to COVID) and is excited to be a candidate for Savoy Village Trustee in the April 6, 2021 municipal election.

Larry in India