March Issue // Metro Magazine // Men's Fashion

The March Issue of Metro Magazine is FINALLY on news stands and I've been super excited to see the final product of a fashion piece I photographed for the magazine a couple of months ago! For this spread, we collaborated with an illustrator to bring in a little artistic flare to the project, which is the first time I have ever done this! It was so hard to hand over images, not knowing what they would turn out like! Our goal was to create a fashion editorial that showed great style, yet was light hearted and a TON of fun! Think well-dressed-men-being-boys. Lets face it, every single guy I have ever met has a boyhood dream of playing with guns! Shooting this spread was so much fun! Our models really got an incredible workout that day and our entire crew was phenomenal to work with! Make sure to pick up an issue to see this fun-ness on the glossy pages!


Photographer: Eliesa Johnson

Styling: Erick DeLeon

Hair/Makeup: Fatima Olive

Talent: Thomas Sellwood, Wehmann Models & Talent and Orlando, Vision Management Group

Post Production: Liz Hardt

Assistants: Brandon Werth, Louisa Podlich



One Step Closer // Personal Photos!

I'm on the CUSP of getting ready to send out my portfolios and begin the official ELIESA campaign! That's right...I said campaign! As far as I am concerned, this is a mission of three things:

1) To get my work in front of new editors/agents/art directors/designers and publications.

2) To network and begin building relationships with potential clients

3) To book some kick ass jobs!

While all of these above things are necessary and exciting, I am a big believer that it all starts with me. I want my potential clients to know me, just as much as they know my work. I want them to WANT me soooo bad, they can't say no! In the commercial world, I have always been taught to 'sell your work' first, but I'm taking a different approach this time around! I'm selling myself, and the idea of working with me, just as much as the amazing work we produce! I want clients to know that they are getting the complete package and that we are going to ROCK whatever concept we are given!

This past week, I had the lovely opportunity to get in front of the camera and update my personal photos with my friend, Collin Hughes. I have always loved Collin's work and it made complete sense for him to photograph me. When choosing a photographer to take images of you, choose wisely! I chose Collin, not because he is such a good friend, but rather because his work and the energy in his work emulates the exact vibe that I want to put out there for my clients. Needless to say, he did an amazing job! Here is a tiny quick preview of some of the images from our shoot!


Photographer - Collin Hughes

Hair + Makeup - Margo Gordon

Styling - Alice Sydow

Moto Test Shoot // Behind The Scenes!

With every shoot that we do, I try to have someone there catching the behind-the-scene moments!! Our new photographer for our sister company, Louisa, captured some sweet shots! When she showed some to me, I thought, "This is totally why I hired you..." She is so good! I thought I would share some with you and to see more, head over to Louisa's personal blog!

Moto Test Shoot // Pre Shoot!

Tomorrow marks yet another test shoot for my commercial portfolio! I've had much critique about the new site over the last few months and the #1 word of advice was to test shoot just a little more before starting to send out my books to the big boys! I absolutely love to test, simply because it brings me back to playing. When I test, it's only for me. When I test, I get to collaborate with the people I love to work with the most! When I test, I have the opportunity to shoot...and be able to show the world...exactly what I would love to photograph for future work! There are no limits, no boundaries and no one to answer to! The possibilities are endless with test shoots!

I wanted to take a minute to show you all how much effort we put into these! For the first time ever, I am working with a producer, Chelsey Paul! This has been THE most fabulous experience. I am trying to pull this together during the busiest time of the year, so her help is beyond necessary! Photographers: working with a producer will change your life! Maybe you don't have the time or money to find/hire someone? Shit, find a friend to fill that role! Chelsey has been coordinating the models, location, clothes, food, and literally all communication with the crew! I've learned from working with her that my job is really to focus on being the photographer. I love being a part of the creative process, but to have another person who understands the concept and just helps me carry out all of the final details has been an amazing experience!

Below you will also see an example of our creative brief! When you are working with so many people...stylists, models, agents,'s important that you keep them all in the loop! Part of our re-brand for ELIESA was to create a solid set of these sheets, so all of our shoots from here on out can be super well as look cool! Creative briefs can be as simple or elaborate as you would like, just as long as all of the imperative information is in there!

Here are some stellar iphone images showing how we compile looks together! We documented each look and wrote a final document, noting each and every little piece that is used in each look! Why? This will help us move swiftly between changes and also keep us super organized! We are always super lucky to work with amazing boutiques around town and we want to make sure and keep their attire in tip-top shape!!

After all of this planning, the last thing I needed to focus on was lighting! Now, again, this is a test shoot, so I have the opportunity to play with new equipment, concepts, etc! As most of you know, I am one of the most non-technical photographers in the world! My brain knows what I want and how to create it, but do I know what the exact piece of equipment is called? Not so much....luckily, we have the AMAZING Raul of Flashlight Photo Rental close by! I discovered flashlight last year and I am thrilled to have such a wonderful service in our community! I stopped by Flashlight today and Raul already had brainstormed on what equipment I needed to pull off my concept, helped explain it to me annnnnd, we even did a little test to make sure it will give the effect I'm looking for! I can not tell you enough how utterly important it is to surround yourself with the best people in your industry! The refreshing thing about the Flashlight team is that they are truly here for photographers and they want nothing more than to see our industry thrive!

NAHA Awards // Recap!

This past weekend was one of the proudest moment in my career thus far! I traveled to Las Vegas for the 2010 NAHA Awards! For those of you who don't know, this is basically the Grammy's of hair, which I a shoot I did for Metro Magazine was nominated for the Editorial Hairstylist of the Year!

It's very hard to explain this award and I, myself, didn't realize how big of a deal it was to be nominated. Hundreds of thousands of hairstylists submit images to NAHA each year and only the best of the best are nominated! And when I say the best of the best, I mean the MOST fabulous, hardworking, innovative and talented stylists are in this group. During the awards ceremony, the founder of Aveda was giving a speech and he said this, "You can have the greatest hair in the world, but without great makeup, a great stylist, model and photographer, the world will not understand the utter talent of your work." I found this to be amazingly true, because in the world of fashion, you are only as good as the talent you are working with. I've said it once and I will say it again, COLLABORATION in this industry is key to produce an amazing shoot. It is imperative to set a big standard and only work with great people, or your work might not reach the level you want it to.

When this shoot was being dreamed up, I tried for YEARS to get a magazine to pick it up and let me shoot something BIG! Why didn't I just do it as a test shoot on my own? 1) I wanted it published for everyone to see 2) I wanted to spread the love of fashion to Minnesota and the Midwest 3) I wanted to get paid for it 4) I wanted to be able to work with the BEST in the industry and by having a magazine behind me, I knew my chances were much greater! Grant Whittaker did an AMAZING job with the styling. He is a person that tops my list of people I wanted to work with, so I was ecstatic when he signed on! I knew that we would have some fabulous choices of attire and when he walked on set with over $150,000 worth of clothes, I knew this was going to be GREAT! Faatemah built all of the hair and wigs for the shoot and I was amazed at her talent on the day of the shoot. I mean, this girl can do HAIR! She not only understands what quality is, but she is all about pushing the limits and being innovative with the hair she creates. I was taking a HUGE risk with this shoot. Minneapolis had never seen an editorial spread like this, so people were either going to love it or hate it...

Let me tell you, taking this risk was the best thing I ever did. When it all comes down to it, this idea I dreamed up, this goal I had set for myself, these people I worked with, this magazine I convinced to support me, it ALL came together. As I was sitting there in the VIP section of the NAHA Awards and my images were flashing up on the big screen, I looked around at the PURE talent that I was surrounded by. I was a part of this. I was with ALL of these amazing, driven and talented people. I had pushed for an idea, so WE...the entire team...created something that was THIS BIG. I have never been more proud in my entire career!!

The winner in our category went to a stylist named Steve Elias, who is an amazing dude! Of course, it always sucks a wee tad to go all of that way and not take home the big prize, but absolutely none of that mattered or matters to me. I am so, so proud of everything this shoot has accomplished and all of the recognition it has received. It's opened my eyes to an entirely new world of fashion and reminded me not to settle for anything less than greatness.

Below are some images from the 2010 NAHA Awards! Faatemah and her crew opened the night with a runway show, followed by a few people you might just recognize...

Welcome to // ELIESA!

AHHHH!!!!! I am SO freaking excited to launch the new commercial brand, ELIESA!

This brand has been in the works for almost 2 years and I am just thrilled to finally be launching it!

For those of you who don't know, I've been taking photographs for 11 years now and the time has come to take things to the next level! What does the next level mean, exactly? Well, I have some lofty goals and big plans and I don't intend to stop until I get there! I want to shoot fashion and I want to be more of a presence in the editorial world. I absolutely love the collaboration process between Art Directors, Editors, Stylists, and not to mention the production side of things! I love dreaming up an idea and seeing the finished product on glossy paper...or even better, on a cover!

My goal is to break down boundaries, go out of my comfort zone and push for bigger a better clients. I want to work with clients who are also willing to take risks with me. From my experience so far, the bigger the risk, the more fabulous the reward!

Having said all of this, I'm beginning from step one, all over again! It's time to go back to banging on doors, pounding the pavement and (GASP) get rejected...a lot! I'm totally ready for this phase and I'm really excited to see how much stronger this makes me as a photographer and also how much stronger this makes our studio and team! It's a big transition period for us. I want to play with the big boys, and I won't settle for anything less! I think it's also going to be a very fascinating journey for other photographers looking to 'break into' the commercial world, so I'll be blogging, every step of the way about the process. That means the highs and the lows! With this launch, I feel like I've taken the first step towards this dream and I couldn't have done it without the fabulous design mind of Aurora from Red Organic!

When Aurora and I sat down to start branding this, I wanted to create a brand that was simple, but still ME (and for all of you who know me, I'm not exactly a 'simple' girl.) I'm strong, sometimes outspoken, LOUD, I like to use lots of !!!!!!, I swear like a sailor, and I laugh often. I love to love, I love my crew and I absolutely love being a photographer. I'm passionate about what I do and not in a quiet way, so HOW do you make that look simple? The beautiful thing about Aurora and I is that we are one in the same. She gets me as a person, which translates into the design of everything she brought together for me. We challenge each other to come up with the BEST brand possible! (Word of advice for anyone thinking about hiring a designer for re-branding, website building, etc is this: Make sure you are in LOVE with your designer..and I mean LOVE! Don't just use someone, because you know someone who used them. Interview them, spend time with them and make sure that you are on the same page, because this will make a WORLD of difference in your design process!) I am SO in love with the ELIESA brand! It's GLAM, simplified. It's CLEAR and sassy at the same time. And she's got a little attitude! We based much of the brand off of my signature, which I feel is feminine and strong at the same time. It's artsy and strong and it. is. me.

The first 'phase', lets call it, for the ELIESA brand is the launch of the website and business cards! The fabulous people at Into the Darkroom helped us put together this blog + the official website! Personally, I love the design, I think it is a simple, yet bad ass way to view and online portfolio! I've also always been super impressed with ITDR's products for photographers - and their service is unbeatable when it comes to launching a new brand! I'm also in LOVE with my new business cards! This is one of the biggest investments I've made in this entire brand. I'm a big believer that your business card SAYS something about you. Many times, it is also a client's first impression.

Speaking of first impressions, I'm off to Las Vegas this weekend for the NAHA Awards! An editorial spread I photographed this past year is up for an international award in the Editorial Category. I'll be surrounded by the best-of-the-best in the hair industry and I can't WAIT! Make sure to tune in for blog updates!!

Without further adieu, I present to you, ELIESA!



Here's all of the new info for the ELIESA brand to stay in contact with us:

Website //

Blog //

Twitter // @eliesajohnson

E-mail //

Phone // 651.494.2257