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!
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.
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:
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//
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!
Sometimes the only way I know how to express myself is to take photos. So, I showed up. If you were not able to be at the march or vigil for Philando Castile today, I hope these images are helpful for you to understand all the emotion, concern, awareness, conversation and change that needs to happen in our world today.
The Design 100 is one of my favorite stories to be a part of each year. It lives in the pages of Mpls / St Paul Home & Design magazine and I just always love how this turns out. The Design 100 is a story about the 100 best people, products and places that add style to home and design. This includes rad spaces, talented artists and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a lot of our favorite products. Maybe I love this story so much, because it is about the artists and where their hustle comes from.
The images below are from the 2015 Design 100 issue and I was able to photograph a few folks for this article. Big thank you to Ashley Mary Art, Keith Wyman of Concrete Pig, Erin Francois of Francois et Moi and the wonderful Lisa Balke and Susan Blankenship of Victory Vintage.
The 2016 James Beard Awards happened this week in Chicago and I was beyond honored and thrilled to be a part of documenting this night. Photographing an event at this caliber is a full production and I had an amazing time working with the James Beard Foundation and their team. I shot alongside 3 other photographers that night, as well as my assistant, Jackson Faith.
Our specific focus for the night was on the VIP dinner, which was made by Cosmo Goss of Publican, Erling Wu-Bower of Nico Osteria, Perry Hendrix of Avec and Nicole Guini of Blackbird. Their teams hustled to create some amazing dishes for the guests backstage as the awards, which were hosted by Carla Hall, began.
The night was an amazing experience and I wanted to share a few of my favorite moments. I especially wanted to give a little nod to our hometown of Minneapolis - and a big congratulations to Chef Paul Berglund of The Bachelor Farmer who won the award for Best Chef: Midwest. Beyond that, it was exciting to see so many faces from our city represented!