Year Twelve

 
I’m hungry for knowledge. The whole thing is to learn every day, to get brighter and brighter. That’s what this world is about. You look at someone like Gandhi, and he glowed. Martin Luther King glowed. Muhammad Ali glowed. I think that’s from being bright all the time, and trying to be brighter.
— Jay Z

September marked my twelfth year of business and in many ways I feel like all of our companies are hitting their strides. It's been a great year. I also will always refer to my brands as 'ours', because my team and our clients have everything to do with our success. It's not just mine - it is all of ours. 

I was lucky enough to be photographed by Nate Ryan a few weeks ago and I was reflecting a bit on who I am now and where I strive to be. Nate's work is some of the best and he's also a person who has just about as many shoots as I do per week. His hustle is real and it has been exciting to watch his work grow over the years. He's refining it, he's perfecting it and he's making it happen - and it's so good. That consistency and discipline is key to being an artist and a freelancer. Back to my point - it has been a while since I updated my pictures and I wanted to be able to look back at these and remember who I was during this time. I didn't want them to be a quick Instagram photo - I wanted an official portrait. I wanted something strong and powerful, with a true sense of self, because that is what I feel at year twelve.  

Photo by Nate Ryan

Photo by Nate Ryan

In many ways I still think of myself as a girl with her camera. But I am also a woman who is 5 brands strong, who works with the best team of dedicated people, who can look around the city and celebrate the success of other artists who have passed through our studio doors and ultimately work to create progressive and consistently strong work for their clients. 

Right there, that word create is the magic I am talking about. It's my goal to make a well established body of work that is iconic. It means gathering inspiration from the world, but not directly copying work that has already been done. It means pushing the boundaries and being brave enough to believe in our ideas. It means collaborating with the best and always learning from my team. It means listening. It means doing what I believe in and also not giving a fuck about the bullshit. 

A friend recently borrowed me a book about a photographer named Edward Curtis. He became popular in the 1900's for his work documenting American Indians. While reading the pages, there is so much I can relate to, but this is one of my favorite lines:

I want to make them (American Indians) live forever. It’s such a big dream I can’t see it all.
— Edward Curtis

Looking to the future of what is next in life and businesses, there is so much more to come. I can't wait to see what that holds. 

LOVEe

Turnip Rock Organic Farm

 
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This past summer, I had a couple of the greatest weeks of my life in shooting. They were all spent on organic farms across Minnesota and Wisconsin and I was simply so inspired. I was both fascinated and thankful for all of the farmers who work so hard to give us good food. It's one of those things that we know, but maybe don't realize the extent of the hard work and respect that the farmers are giving to the food we eat. It's hard work and I commend them all! 

One of the project we worked on during that time is still rolling out, but this shoot is one I can share right away! Iglika Petrova is an amazing food and prop stylist that I have the pleasure of collaborating with and we traveled out to Turnip Rock Organic Farm in Clear Lake, Wisconsin. Rama and Josh are the owners of the farm which is pretty impressive - they grow everything from vegetables to cattle, pig, sheep and even make their own cheese on site. We spent the day with their crew on the land and Iglika worked her magic by creating some finished recipes on her blog, Sprig of Thyme. Check out her delicious recipes here!

I felt so free and creative out on these farms - it was truly a beautiful experience! I can't wait for the next assignment! 

Mpls / St. Paul Magazine | Best of Restaurants 2017

 
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We were so proud to be a part of Minneapolis / St. Paul Magazine's Best of Restaurants issue this year! 2017 brought some new names and old favorites to this list and it was so much fun to photograph. We also captured some fun human elements to this story that I think are pretty special. A big thanks to the following restaurants for inviting us in: Young Joni, Restaurant ALMA, Terzo, India Spice HouseLucia's and Travail Kitchen & Amusements

This post includes some images from the feature and also some unpublished images that I just adore. Seriously - the deconstructed Bibim Grain Salad from Young Joni - how cool is that? Enjoy!

Da Bomb Bath Fizzers

 

You might have heard of Isabel and Caroline Bercaw - they are the 'sisterpreneurs' behind the growing brand, Da Bomb Bath Fizzers. Isabel and Caroline are now 15 and 16 years old, but they started their company at the young age of 10 and 11. Their company now employs over 150 people and their products are in over 5000 stores - quite an accomplishment! 

Since launching their company, Isabel and Caroline have grown a lot - both personally and professionally. It was time to update their image, along with some product photography and I was thrilled to be on board for this project. Together with our crew (Fatima Olive on hair & makeup and Judith Marilyn styling), we created a series of fun images that the girls will be able to use for their upcoming campaigns, social media and press requests! Here are some of our favorite images from the shoot! 

Mpls / St. Paul Magazine | North Awards Feature

 
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This past January, I photographed some portraits for Mpls / St. Paul Magazine's Made in the North story. It featured stories and profiles on the makers behind some of our favorite handcrafted food and products! 

What I love about photographing stories like this is learning so much about the people behind the goods. There is so much thought, time and intention behind each of these businesses - it's inspiring. For this article we meet Tim Shore of Shoreboards, Jim Sannerud of J. Sannerud Studios, Mike Phillips of Red Table Meat Co. and Danielle Sakry of Danielle Sakry handbags. 

Below are some of my favorite images from this feature - and you can read all about it here. 

Tim Shore | Shore Boards

Tim Shore | Shore Boards


Jim Sannerud | J. Sannerud Studios

Jim Sannerud | J. Sannerud Studios


Mike Phillips | Red Table Meat Co. 

Mike Phillips | Red Table Meat Co. 


Danielle Sakry | daniellesakry.com

Danielle Sakry | daniellesakry.com

PLATE Magazine x SURLY

 

A recent feature we collaborated on with PLATE Magazine is out! It incorporates some of our favorite people behind the magic at Surly - both the Brewer's Table and the Brewery! Photographing food is obviously a big part of what I do, but I more enjoy the people behind it. For this shoot, we were able to focus on Jerrod, Ben and Jorge for this article and it was an absolute blast - and they let me put them in some rad light! 

Some Recent Portraits //

 
Erik Eastman of Easy and Company

Erik Eastman of Easy and Company

I've been pretty busy lately - and happily so. We have some really wonderful projects that are coming up. I was going through my archives the other day and I realized that there is SO much work from the last year that I would love to share.

For starters, I have really been loving many of the portraits that have been created this past year. I have the chance to photography so many truly amazing people and I wanted to take a moment to show you some of my favorite images. 

LOVEe

Ann Kim of Young Joni

Ann Kim of Young Joni

Bob Edmond of Big Daddy's BBQ

Bob Edmond of Big Daddy's BBQ

Alex Roberts, Lucas Rosenbrook and Mätti Sprague of Restaurant ALMA

Alex Roberts, Lucas Rosenbrook and Mätti Sprague of Restaurant ALMA

Gavin Kaysen of Spoon & Stable and Bellecour

Gavin Kaysen of Spoon & Stable and Bellecour

Daniel Boulud

Daniel Boulud

Jorge Guzman of Surly Brewer's Table

Jorge Guzman of Surly Brewer's Table

Adam Eaton and Laurel Elm of Saint Dinette

Adam Eaton and Laurel Elm of Saint Dinette

Mike Phillips of Red Table Meat Co. 

Mike Phillips of Red Table Meat Co. 

Steven Brown of Tilia and St. Genevieve

Steven Brown of Tilia and St. Genevieve

The Restaurant Project

 

I want to take a moment and introduce you all to The Restaurant Project.

It is an idea that struck me a couple of years ago (and frankly an idea that wouldn't go away). I actually tried to push it away, but the idea was persistent; it challenged me and so I listened. For the last year and a half, I have been working to develop the structure, concept and creativity behind this business and I am so happy I did. 

I started The Restaurant Project because I believe it is time for a shift. Imagery, video and self marketing have never been more important. Many people are doing parts of what we do, but we want joining The Restaurant Project to be different. Essentially, I am asking restauranteurs to rethink the way that they have ever spent their marketing dollars before. A bold statement? Yes, but someone has to make it. I think it is time for restaurants to invest in themselves. So what's included in the investment? So many beautiful things.

"So, you like take food photos and video for social media, right?" -- Wrong.

Let's break it down:

The Restaurant Project offers an easy, one button solution for restaurants to tell their stories. Through Photography, Videography and Strategy, we provide a steady stream of gorgeous content and then empower you to use this content in a big way. 

First, our clients will own full licensing rights to all of the photo and video work we create for them. Did you get that? Unlimited licensing rights. We want our clients to be able to use their content freely - for websites, social, press opportunities and beyond. We offer Monthly + Quarterly subscription services to keep your work fresh! When it comes to photographers, we have the best (award-winning in fact). 

Secondly, we want to educate and empower our clients. You have all of this beautiful content, so let's talk about how to use it best.  I teamed up with Annie D'Souza to be our strategist and I can't begin to tell you how damn perfect she is. Annie is a leader. She is experienced and has an approach to building communities and connecting with people that is inspiring. Do you feel a little overwhelmed with exactly how to use Instagram these days? Great, we can help you with that. Does your PR team want to develop a more helpful strategy for your marketing plan? We've got you. 

Lastly, we want to look towards the future. Video is proving to drive action and putting video on your website alone increases conversion by 80%. Eighty Percent. That's huge. Lauren Schneck is leading video for The Restaurant Project and she is amazing. Her background in reality tv lends a very authentic, yet refined approach to video that translates perfectly to food and the kitchen. 

I have lofty goals for The Restaurant Project. I know it's bold and I know it's not cheap, but I also know it is a game changer. It's an opportunity for better work and better connection with not only your guests, but also the media. It's the chance to grow from within and tell your own story. 

Can you still hire me outside of The Restaurant Project?

Of course. It's business as usual for eliesajohnson.com for our editorial and private client work, but this new project is an extension of our services. I hired the best to implement video and education sessions for our restaurant clients, so your team can be empowered to work better for your business. 

Without further adieu, I would love to introduce you to The Restaurant Project:

Website: therestaurantproject.co

Instagram: @the_restaurant_project

LOVEe

 

Mpls / St. Paul Magazine // Citizen Style

 

For the September issue of Mpls / St. Paul magazine, I was asked to photograph a set of portraits for their fall fashion story. It turns out that I had a connection to all of the people, which made photographing this all the more special. 

When it comes to photographing real people in a 'fashion' sense - I love to still make it feel real. I wanted the portraits to be authentic to who our subjects were and why they had been chosen to highlight their personal style. 

I wanted to share some of my favorite outtakes and behind the scenes from this shoot, because the energy with all of our subjects was absolutely amazing! A big thank you to Betsey Kershaw, Kimberly Ferguson, Linda Kaysen and Paul Buttenhoff for all the great moments! You can check out the full story here


Behind the Scenes//

ELIESA JOHNSON // New Brand Identity!

 

Brand identity work by Dschwen

I am super excited to share the new identities of all of our companies! This is our eleventh year of business and as our work and businesses grow and become more refined, so do our brands. Last year, we took on the big project of updating all of our websites and this year brought along the next phase of that project, which was to unify all of the brands. We worked with the brilliant mind of David Schwen of Dschwen to bring this all together and I am SO happy with how it turned out! Each company still has it's own individual presence, while still feeling cohesive with all we do here in the studio. 

The new logo for ELIESA JOHNSON was inspired by how I sign my prints. The old logo was my full signature, but how I really sign my work is simply with an 'e'. I love the simplicity of the logo and can't wait to roll our more design elements and portfolio books with this! You'll also notice that we have new fonts, which are easier to read on the site! 

You can check out all of our other brands at the sites below:

eliesaconsults.com

photogen-inc.com

rivetsandroses.com