Some new work we photographed this summer for American Express has started to roll out! The images feature various shops & restaurants in Minneapolis - along with a shoutout to our northern cabins! Melissa Hesse and I both photographed this digital campaign and it was so fun to document some of our favorite spots in our city! Big thanks to Spoon and Stable, The Foundry Home Goods, Rise Bagel Co. and The Walker Art Museum for being a part of the shoot!
We’ve got some very exciting news that we’ve been waiting to share! The results of the 2018 PDN Magazine Taste Awards have been released, and together, with myself and The Restaurant Project, we won not one, not two, but THREE awards this year! Of the five categories, we swept three of them, including: Editorial, Commercial, and Personal Work.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Taste Awards, they are sponsored by PDN Magazine, which is an industry standard in the photography world. The photography industry is a pretty nerdy group of people and we don’t have ‘Grammy’ or ‘Oscar’ awards. What we do have is the Taste Awards. This is a global competition and awards given to a select few photographers around the world. The panel of judges are professional Photo Editors, Designers, Photographers, and Art Directors from publications such as Cherry Bombe and Food & Wine Magazine.
We have had the honor of winning awards in the Commercial and Editorial categories for the last two years. However, to sweep three of the five categories this year is simply overwhelming. We’re so proud of the work we create on a daily basis for our clients and it’s a true honor to be among the best food photographers in the world!
Below are some of the winning images!
This project is shifting gears a little bit and I love it! My mother-in-law runs a business out of her home for adults with Alzheimers or Dementia. For those of you who have ever dealt with an aging parent, you know how important it is for your loved ones to be taken care of at a great place. The farm is a very special place to me - it's a retreat, a gorgeous piece of property and a place filled with happiness. It's really cool to see the joy that Amy's clients have while living here.
Amy and her staff give the best experience to their clients and this year they focused on the business side of things, which included a new website! It was so fun to collaborate with Amy and her designer Joa on this project. We spent a day at the farm, documenting a day in the life of all who live there and it was simply so much fun! Below are a few of my favorite images, but check out the full website here to see more!
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!
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:
Salty Tart has released a new website and I am so happy to have been a part of this project! I have admired Chef Gayer for a long time - her energy, her hustle, and her amazing baked goods, so being asked to photograph new images for her was a dream.
We wanted to bring a light and fresh look to her bakery and also a subtlety to the images - we wanted her gorgeous baked goods to speak for themselves. Everything that Michelle and her team make is rustic, free form, from scratch - and down right beautiful. We collaborated with Liz Gardner from Bodega LTD. on the styling for this shoot and came up with a series of images that are just so damn pretty. We also spent time at the bakery of Salty Tart and caught some of the real moments of their team working.
Behind the Scenes //
PMH (Peterson Milla Hooks) recently launched their brand new website and we are thrilled to have been a part of their 'People' section. I've always admired the word that this agency does and their mission statement, which is: Proudly independent, Creatively led, Oddly fast and they don't care much for meetings about meetings.
The entire team at PMH is wildly talented and it was our goal to take portraits that portrayed the style and personality of each individual, as well as the company as a whole. When you visit the site you can scroll over each image to see more from each creative.
This was such a great project and I love the way it turned out! I highly encourage you to check out everyone's portraits and the new PMH website!
BEHIND THE SCENES//
Well, this is really so very fun! It's been a solid four to five years since I last entered a professional photo competition, but a couple of months ago a great friend of mine sent me an e-mail with a link to PDN's TASTE Food Photography Awards competition. It was one of those days where you had *just* enough time to whip together a submission and I sent off my photos - if anything, just happy to have them in front of the amazing judge's panel (which was filled with a load of talent).
To be honest though, when it comes to submitting for anything - to be published, for competition, etc. I am of the mindset that I 'submit and forget'. There's too much going on here to dwell on if we are going to win or not and I always want to stay focused on the clients and projects at hand.
However, when you get news that you WON! that is something to be excited about, take a moment and celebrate! I am happy to say that we are one of four winners in the Professional Editorial category, with a series of images that were created for the July 2015 issue of Food & Wine Magazine, featuring Jim Christiansen of Heyday and his award as Best New Chef! Liz Gardner did the styling on this shoot and it just turned out to be a magical set of images that I couldn't be more pleased about.
PDN is a global leader in the photography industry and to be a part of this roster is a HUGE honor. I'm just happy that this opportunity came across and that we actually took the time to submit. It's a great reminder that sharing your work and taking a risk is most definitely worth it!
I was happy to photograph the new look book for NEAL Jewelry's latest collection, NOVA. The brand, formally known as Carrier Pigeon, just relaunched as NEAL Jewelry and with this, came a whole new look. Liz Gardner of Bodega, ltd. had a huge part in both the concept and styling of this shoot, where much of the inspiration came from the new colors of NEAL + the 90's. Mom jeans, Linda Evangelista, all of it. Heather Byington was our talent and Romeny Chan lent her talents for all of the hair + makeup. Below are some of my favorite images from the shoot, along with some behind the scene photos.
BEHIND THE SCENES
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of working with MAYER to create the new campaign for this year's Charlie Awards! For those of you who aren't familiar, the Charlie Awards is an event that recognizes the exceptional contributions of the Twin Cities metro area food and restaurant industry. It's a pretty cool concept for the community. Basically, there are several categories that restaurants can enter and then the general public can vote on their favorites. Along with a panel of experts, the winners are chosen. We have ah-maz-ing food here in Minneapolis, and personally, I'm a big foodie, so this project was perfect for me! For the shoot, we collaborated with Open Arms of Minnesota, who so graciously invited us into their space to shoot, while still producing meals for that day! Open Arms is an incredible organization that I fell in love with, if you are thinking of volunteering, you should definitely check them out! We also assembled a dream-team for this! Our subjects were all previous winners of the Charlie Awards and some of the best in the restaurant industry! Michael Dodes styled the ladies in Joynoelle and Amber Rose & Susan Swanson beautified everyone to be camera ready! Jackie of Munster Rose styled our table and the wonderful people of Flashlight Photo Rental were a giant help for all of our gear!Of course, I couldn't pull a shoot like this off without an amazing team of my own. Thank you to Paul, Duane, and Marcie for lending a hand and making this all happen!
The official Charlie Awards campaign rolled out about a week ago at Le Meridian Chambers hotel and will be seen in all over the city, as well in local and regional publications over the next couple of months! Keep an eye out for it!
As a special little bonus, I had Chris Wegner come to our shoot and document some of the behind-the-scenes footage of what our day was like and also what it takes to pull of a shot like this! I absolutely love it!