The Restaurant Project

Martina x The Restaurant Project


About a year and a half ago, I had coffee with Chef Daniel del Prado. He told me about the ideas behind his first breakout restaurant, which was to be called Martina. I left that meeting feeling very inspired by the team of people he was bringing together and how their vision was lead by creativity.

This was a perfect project for our team over at The Restaurant Project and over a couple of days, we harnessed the most badass light to make some amazing images happen. It’s always so exciting for me to bring a vision to life, but when the light works out like it did these days, it truly is pure magic!

Needless to say, Martina has been a big hit and we’re so proud of seeing their hard work pay off. Below are some of my favorite images from our shoot with Martina and The Restaurant Project!

Print The Love Benefit | Artist Talk with Eliesa Johnson


I'm super excited to be the keynote speaker for Print The Love's 2018 benefit. If you're not familiar with the organization, I'd love to introduce you. Print The Love is a non profit that serves the world with instant photographs. They focus on celebrating the value and dignity of individuals in under-resourced communities through the gift of a photograph. Obviously, the mission of this organization resonates with me, because it is what I practice on a daily basis. I greatly believe that a photograph captures a valuable moment in time. I also believe that photographs are one of our most prized possessions that we have in life. Print the Love gives the gift of photography and moments to those who otherwise would not have access to ever having their lives documented - how cool is that?

In thinking about what to talk about for this evening, I landed on "The Power and Purpose of an Image". It will be a reflection upon creating images that have moment and the impact they can have on a community. This will be a great talk for artists who are professional photographers, as well as those who are hobbyists. All are welcome and I hope everyone can walk away a little inspired. 

Proceeds from the evening will go towards Print the Love's work around the world as their team heads to Cambodia on November 1st! I look forward to seeing y'all there! 

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. 


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 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:


Instagram: @the_restaurant_project