Eliesa Johnson

Mpls / St Paul Magazine | 2019 Best of Restaurants

 
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I am SO excited and SO proud of the March issue of Minneapolis / St. Paul Magazine! This month features the 2019 Best Restaurants and as always, we were thrilled to be a part of this story. Fifty restaurants are mentioned in this package, but we photographed six for the feature. This included The Lynhall, Café Alma, Union Kitchen, The Grand Cafe, Lat 14 and In Bloom. We are personally big fans of all these restaurants, so it was a pleasure to create these images that the magazine used in such a big way!

Diana Scanlon worked along side us to style the food in many of these images and her pink gloves were a theme in our behind the scene photos! She’s also the genius behind how we got that gold fork to look so perfect on the cover! Of course, the MSP Art team of Kim Jackson and Mike Norseng also played an incredible role in the design and ideas of the feature! I love how these images turned out and hope you do, too!


BEHIND THE SCENES//

Liam //

 

I love taking a portrait of someone. It’s a moment and time in their life. I also love the challenge of making a picture that truly shows who that person is. Liam James Doyle has been an assistant on our team for a good few years now, but even more than that, he is an incredible photojournalist. Mark my words - this man is going to do incredibly big things in the world and I can’t wait to see what that is! When he asked me to photograph him to update his portrait, of course I said yes. I absolutely love the energy of how these turned out and to me, they are perfect!

LOVEe

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

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

2016 James Beard Awards

 

Lyric Opera House // Chicago

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!

Erling Wu-Bower of Nico Osteria // VIP dinner prep

Cosmo Goss of Avec // Chef Portraits

Showtime

Gala Reception 

 

 

NORWAY GALLERI EXHIBIT //

 

A couple of months ago, I was approached by Norway House and asked to be the next artist for their Galleri exhibit. The organization had been following our work and took note that I had traveled to Norway not so long ago. They also had admired the work in general that we have been doing - all of the food photography, especially. So, together we curated an exhibit that focuses on showing a more modern Norway. 

The entire process of putting this show together was awesome for me. It challenged me artistically in ways that I haven't been in a while. Almost all of these images were moments that were captured, not intending to be in an exhibit together. However, I love that an overall body of work - filled with personal experiences, family history and stylized food shots - all came together to make one rad photo exhibit. 

The Galleri show at Norway House is now open to the public and will run through May 1 -- I hope you all get a chance to stop by! We also have put together an exclusive print shop on our website, with 25 of our favorite images from the show. (See below)

BEHIND THE SCENES//

The Salty Tart //

 

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 // 

Food and Wine Magazine // January 2016

 

The January issue of Food and Wine magazine is officially on newsstands and I couldn't be more excited about starting off the year with this feature. The story is all about hot dish - naturally a midwest classic. Chef Gavin Kaysen modernized some of his classic recipes and along with some good ole Lutheran church ladies - we debated the age old question - is it called Casserole or Hot Dish?

It's always such a pleasure to photograph for Food and Wine and for this project, we collaborated with Jon Wipfli of The Minnesota Spoon to lend a hand as our food stylist. Together with the F&W team and Chef Kaysen, we took over Gavin's restaurant, Spoon and Stable, for this on-location shoot. 

I am so pumped about this story, you must definitely check it out - and don't forget those fun behind-the-scene photos below! As always, thank you to our crew + the staff at Spoon and Stable for letting us take over!

Behind the Scenes//

2013 LAVENDER Wedding Issue // Minnesota Marriage Equality

The latest issue of LAVENDER Magazine is officially on newsstands and I am SUPER happy to have been a part of this shoot! This issue is the 2013 Wedding Issue for the magazine, and I was chosen to collaborate with some AMAZING people to really elevate the presence of gay marriage in our city and photograph the fashion editorial. Obviously, same-sex marriage is a hot topic at the moment, and a movement that I really believe in. I was over the moon with the idea of creating imagery to promote marriage equality and I hope you are as pleased with the outcome as I! Below are images from the LAVENDER Online Issue and you can grab a copy in print - literally - all around town! The issue is only on newsstands for a few weeks, so check it out before they are all gone! Of course, no shoot happens without an amazing team behind me. This was a major production, with two days of shooting, in two very different locations. We photographed the women at The Union Depot in downtown St. Paul and then moved the crew back to Minneapolis at The Bachelor Farmer to photograph the men.  Style Architects put together the wardrobe and set styling, which featured some fabulous companies, including: Ignite Models Inc., Gateaux Inc, Martha's Garden, L'atelier Couture, Realia by Jen, On Solid Ground Vintage Rentals, Roe Wolfe, BeThings, Saima Says Design, Heimie's Haberdashery, Martin Patrick 3, Hammermade and more!  In addition to the photographs, Chris Wegner also came along to create two amazing behind-the-scenes videos for you to check out:

LAVENDER Wedding Shoot // Day 1

LAVENDER Wedding Shoot // Day 2

 

 

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From Winter to Spring // Test Shoot!

I am SUPER excited to share these images from my latest test shoot with you! We are in this weird limbo phase in Minneapolis right now, where winter has not yet come to and end and spring has almost begun! I wanted to somehow convey that feeling - and if you live in Minnesota, you know what that feeling is - where you are just dying for things to change and brighten up! I wanted these images to be light and bright, pale, yet with some neutral color being introduced as the images went on. I wanted them to be soft, yet with a little bit of tension. I couldn't be more pleased with the way these turned out and I am super pumped to use them in my portfolio!

As always, I could not pull these shoots off, without an amazing team behind me!

CREDITS //

Photography: Eliesa Johnson

Hair & Makeup: Fatima Olive

Styling: Diana Colangelo

Talent: Gemma & Melissa, Ignite Models

Post Production: Liz Hardt

 

Free People Lace Dress // $98 // Nordstrom,  Scarf  // $28 // Urban Outfitters

BCBG Sheer Sleeve Dress // $78 // Bloomingdales,  Crochet Shawl // $39 // Urban Outfitters

Haute Blouse // $225 // Nordstrom,  Underwear // $16 // Urban Outfitters

Chiffon Maxi Skirt // $54 // Lace Bra // $16 // Urban Outfitters,  BCBGeneration Cutout Top // $88 // Bloomingdales

French Connection Crochet Dress // $288 // Bloomingdales,  French Connection Glitter Dress // $168 // Bloomingdales