2015 // A Year in Review

Oh wow. 2015, what a year it has been. I started writing this post from my couch the other night - after a 13 hour work day - and though it was a long day, I was so so happy.

I've referred to the last month as the Holiday Hustle and that has held true. Work has been busy, everyone is on deadline and excited to wrap up projects before the end year - or at least enough so we can all take a break. There have been holiday parties and events to go to...and those deadlines. As I was editing that night, I started to think about the last year and I had a realization: 2015 was a DAMN good year.

The Top 10 BEST Moments of 2015 (in no particular order):

1: Celebrated 10 years of business with the #10YearHustle party

2: Launched 3 new websites for our brands: Rivets and Roses, ELIESA and ELIESA Consults.

3: Hired Melissa as our Studio Manager and she has been a miracle in helping all of the businesses run, supporting our team  and allowing me space to grow.

4: Added some of my 'Dream List' clients to my actual client list, the most exciting has been three stories in Food & Wine Magazine and a global feature about Japanese Whiskey in Delta Sky Magazine.

5: Was named one of the best Editorial Food Photographers in the country from PDN's TASTE Food Photography awards.

6: Photographed 20 amazing weddings for Photogen Inc. and proudly had 4 of those gorgeous weddings published.

7: Our Rivets and Roses team has been KILLING IT with their work this year. We have an incredible team of artists and if you haven't seen what they have been up to, check them out: Ryan, Jackson, Thea, Maggie, Melissa and Bryan all inspire me on the daily.

8: Read a few great books, upgraded some equipment, invested in a business consultant who has given me GREAT critique and took the leap to raise my prices for 2016 - yes, I know, it was overdue.

9: Teamed up with the crew at CLReps to show my portfolio on a more consistent basis, collaborate on some amazing projects and expand our client base.

10: Joined a great gym, saw my friends more and even went on a special Friendsgiving trip to Madeline Island. I spent more time with my family, dogs and even booked a few personal trips for the new year.

Every year I set goals and I usually set lofty goals. Last year, a lot of what I was trying to achieve was a better work/life balance, which is always a work in progress. What I have noticed is that a lot of times the success is not in the lofty, big, glamorous ideas, but rather in the little steps it takes to get us there. (You can check out more of my thoughts on goal setting + doing the work on the ELIESA Consults blog). Oddly enough, 2015 brought the hustle, but it also was filled with happiness and ease. When I look back at this year, we accomplished some seriously big things that I couldn't have ever predicted and that is simply one of the things I love most about being a freelancer. Every year, every month and every day is different. The risk is high and before you know it, the small moments have turned into giant victories!

I am humbled when I think of the amazing people who surround me in life - from my family & friends to our clients & staff. I know I have said this a million times, but it is such a pleasure and it is definitely my purpose to be your photographer. It's my dream to wake up every day and make images to share with you all, so thank you.

Here is to Two Thousand and Sixteen and all of the adventures this next year will bring!


The 10 Year Hustle // A Celebration!


Oh friends, can you believe that this year marks our tenth year of business?!?! I barely can. This past week has brought a lot of reflection on the last decade and if you follow me on Instagram, you have probably relived a lot of the highlights! I did want to take a moment to write on the blog, since this is where it all started - with a girl, a camera, a blog and a business name of Photogen Inc.

I have always known I wanted to be a photographer from a very young age, but I never knew that I would thrive in being a business owner. That was never something that crossed my mind until a very special person in my life simply said, "Why don't you start a business?" So, I went to the State of MN, took $125 out of a cash machine, thought of a name that wasn't taken on google yet and officially incorporated. I honestly didn't over think this decision, because in my gut it simply seemed like the right thing to do. On the flip side, I had no idea what I was doing, but I dove into being a freelance photographer head strong. I think part of my success early on was that I was a bit ignorant and incredibly determined, which made me fearless. Now, I want to be clear that it took a while for me to actually live off of my income as a freelancer - in the meantime, I kept a 'normal' job to pay the rent and it also meant that I worked double the hours. I know many of you out there do this and I want you to know that it IS okay! In fact, I would argue that all freelancers have had a 'day job' while starting things up! The thing was, I knew my job (which I was incredibly grateful for) was just a job - photography and this business had not only become my passion, but also my purpose.

When the business began, I might have not known much, but I did know a few things:

1// I wanted it to be bigger than myself - This is a little hard to explain, but I knew that I wanted to connect people, build a team and inspire others. I didn't want it to be all about me and now looking back I see all of our assistants, photographers and talent who have come thru our studio and they are all doing things that are WAY bigger than me. It has been my greatest joy to see our team grow and thrive over the years and I am so proud.

2// I wanted to make work and share it with the community - When it comes down to why I am a photographer, it is exactly this. To take images for a purpose and share them. I want my work to inspire people and to be a part of whatever-that-story-may-be-about. I have been lucky enough to share my work on a global level and also very intimately with weddings and no matter the job, this is always my goal.

3// I wanted to live the dream - I believe in living a happy life. And I wanted to wake up every morning and literally live my dream. It doesn't mean that every day is easy, in fact many days are filled with a lot of grit and hard work, but I LOVE IT. I love my job, I love my lifestyle and I love absolutely everything we are doing at our studio. I also believe in the phrase that "it's all about the journey and not the destination." Owning your own business definitely means owning that statement.

Looking back on ten years has been a trip, but an oh-so-awesome moment to celebrate and reflect upon all of the success that we have had. We've been invited to photograph many of your weddings, built 4 brands, expanded our commercial and editorial work, gained national and global clients and created an amazing team of photographers. To say we are #blessed is an understatement. I don't know how I can possibly say enough thank you's, but to all of you who have believed in me, the work and our team all of these years, thank you. It has been a true honor to document your stories and it is because of YOU that we are actually successful!

So, here is to the next ten years! Our work is better than ever and our team is thriving! Onward to amazing moments, fucking rad pictures and a whole lot of adventure!


Living the Dream// Photogen Inc

It is already the third of February in 2014. Holy shit. I mean seriously, when did that happen? We have been so busy over here in the Photogen Inc studio that I haven't even had a moment to connect with all of you blog readers, so hopefully this post can catch us all up! We have had an incredibly busy start to the year. As I thought about this post, my first thought was, "How can I possibly even explain exactly what we've been up to?" Then I remembered a specific photo I took on my phone, sometime last year, to write about the every-day-hustle that is being a business owner, a leader and an artist. I wanted to show this image, because frankly, it's normal. It's not pretty or perfectly styled. It's about as real as it gets. Some days I take fancy pictures that end up on newsstands, printed beautifully on glossy pages. Some days we are a part of a couple's beautiful wedding day and we deliver a gorgeous album of photos that will make their hearts swoon for a lifetime. However, most days, we are in the studio or holed up in a coffee shops on our laptops, feverishly editing, answering the never-ending-emails, answering phone calls, updating social media and making sure that our clients are taken care of. It means early morning and late nights. There's a controlled chaos and structure that goes hand-in-hand with running a business. There are routines, lots of meetings, time management and logistics that are involved behind-the-scenes to make sure our beautiful work happens. With all of this said, if you follow my Instagram account (and if you don't, you should), I often use the hashtag #livingthedream. This is also reality and also the truth. No matter if I am out shooting or mopping the studio floors, I am incredibly fortunate to live my dream - day in and day out. This is an incredible opportunity that I feel very grateful for. Not only do I have the trust of my clients, but they allow me to create and carry out my visions of what I think the best is. They trust our team, our experience and our process and our finished product and they allow us to truly be remarkable. The end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 has really made my take a hard look at myself as a leader and ask myself "How can I be better?" Now, I admittedly always have lofty goals and high expectations of myself, but this is something that I want to be even more intentional as the year goes on. I'm asking myself, " How can I be a better photographer and artist? How can I better impact my industry? How can I lead better for my team? How can I grow as a person?" So, in these winter months, before the crazy-awesome-wedding-season-of-2014 begins, I've been a bit more quiet. I've been traveling a bit, reading books and photographing many project that are leading me, in their own way, to be a better creative. I'm also starting to feel re-energized to blog again.

Connection with our clients, readers and vendors has always been incredibly important to me, so hopefully the photos below can catch you up a bit on all of our adventures. Our 'slow season' really hasn't been that slow. The editorial projects that we have been working on have been more-than-amazing and I encourage you all to check out the recent work and posts on the commercial site. In the meantime, I am going to leave you with a quote from a man named Bruce Edwards, who is the Executive Vice President and  Chief Creative Officer of FAME. He was interviewed by The Minneapolis Egotist on "What I learned in 2013" and I loved these words on #livingthedream:

"What I learned in 2013.

Doing great work is hard.

Really hard.

It’s like running a continuously uphill marathon. In the biting below-zero-ness that is January. You stop for water, which is being shot at you from a fire hose. There’s a 40mph headwind, and the road is embedded with glass. You’re barefoot, of course. On the bright side, people are lined up to watch. On the less-bright side, they are throwing snowballs at you, and every quarter mile someone nails you in the nuts. Intentionally. Borderline gleefully.

Yet we do it. We love it. We live for it. We are smitten by the pursuit. And we revel in the completion of something we deem worthy of our craft. Occasionally, we’re even able to make it look easy. (Bonus points for fakery.)

What I look forward to in the coming year.

See above. Sick. And wrong. And yet here we are again. Here’s to the next marathon."

0001 Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with b1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset 0016 Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Photogen Inc. // Cheers to 2013!!

'Tis the season to celebrate and last night, our team got together for our annual holiday party! This event has become a real tradition that I host every year and it makes me so happy. It's pretty simple - we all get together, have some cocktails, I cook a giant pot of chili and sign our holiday card for the year. Each year, I step back at this party and have a bit of a moment. All of the people that fill the room are helping me realize my dream - day in and day out. They give me their time, their talents, their creativity and their support, all to create these amazing images for our clients. When Photogen Inc. was first started as a company, I knew that I wanted it to be 'bigger' than me. In many ways, I still don't know what exactly that means, but what I can say is that this year, we have 14...FOURTEEN people on the team! These people support all of the brands; Photogen Inc, Rivets and Roses and Eliesa Johnson Photography. Yes, I'm the boss lady to this entire operation, but each and every one of the people on our team inspire me on a daily basis to be a better artist and leader for our clients, our crew and our industry! 2013 was an incredibly successful season for us! As a business, I feel like we really hit our stride. As artists, we created some amazing work. As colleagues, we supported, critiqued and have all grown better as people and as friends. We've been published both nationally and locally countless times, which I consider a great honor. Part about what I love about taking photographs is the ability to share that with a community. We live in a very global world these days, and our images have stretched from our local city of Minneapolis to as far as Europe and across the states.

Every year, I have some pretty lofty goals and crazy ideas that I normally share on the blog. However, for 2014, I am still defining and re-defining what those goals are. What I do know is that the plans we are making will no doubt be brilliant and take our brands to a whole other level! When I do determine what these exciting things are, I will most definitely share them with you all! In the mean time, I am taking a little break to read a couple of books, drink some wine, take some personal photos and travel between the holidays and the new year.

To our clients - thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for an amazing year! You have welcomed us into some of the most important moments of your life and we are all so grateful to be a part of your story!

Happy Holidays to all of you followers and readers! Cheers to 2014!


(of course, we had to share some of the Polaroids from our party shenanigans!)


Collage_1 Collage_2 Collage_3 Collage_4 Collage_5 Glasses

Passion Project // New Art on Society 6!

Last summer, I was attending a small gathering and I saw this AWESOME piece of wall art, that featured some simple words, in one of the most beautiful fonts I had ever seen. I was incredibly drawn to the piece and asked the owner where he got it. "Oh that? It's just my handwriting, I just made that one afternoon." I was totally in awe of this hidden talent that my friend, and talented designer, Mitch Kelly, had. A few weeks later, I just couldn't get that piece out of my head and I also felt like his handwriting was just too gorgeous to keep  to himself. I know I wanted him to make a special piece of art for me, and I also thought, "If I am so in love with this, why not share it with the world?" So, I called up Mitch, and we decided to collaborate on a special little side-project together. The idea is simple and it's just something we have been working on, little by little, on the side. We are both incredibly busy people, but this has turned into a little passion project that we are now ready to share with you all! Our designs can be seen, and purchased on my Society 6 page! Thru this website, you can purchase these lovely scripts for your iphone case, wall art, stationary - and even clothing or a cool tote bag! To make this even better, Society 6 is also offering free shipping, worldwide, from now until this Sunday!


Cheers to a New Year!

Hello blog readers! Today, I find myself with some extra down time, which is a complete luxury for me. I had no intentions of writing a new-years-goal post, because I feel like so many others are doing this to the point that I feel it's a bit over done and watered down. In fact, I've been thinking a lot about this social-world we live in these past few months and to be completely honest, I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, being able to reach out to you via this blog, twitter, facebook, pinterest, and instagram are absolutely amazing resources and great business tools. On the other hand, I feel like it's become very overwhelming and I'm searching for how to effectively connect with you all in a more genuine, authentic way. I'm not sure what and how that is yet, but I will definitely consider this one of my goals. Every year, I reflect and set my goals for the next year on my birthday, which is at the end of October. This year, my birthday came and I was SO INSANELY BUSY, I couldn't even think. I couldn't really reflect or decide what-the-hell I wanted to do or where I wanted things to go for the next year, since I didn't even have enough time to comprehend what I would be doing the next hour. I am SO grateful and thankful for our thriving businesses, but holy shit. Things got too busy for my own good. Luckily, I was able to take a vacation in Costa Rica for a few weeks in November and that absolutely helped clear my head and hit the re-set button. When the trip started, I knew I wanted to set some goals, but I also didn't want to force them. I needed some clarity on where I wanted to take things, and finding clarity is a bit of a process. After about 4 days on the beach, literally doing nothing but being in the ocean and waves, I started to feel my mojo returning. Forgive me for using the word mojo, but you know what I mean? It's that feeling, that passion and that drive that you get when you are really excited about something - you know - when you HAVE to write down your thoughts and ideas RIGHT that moment? As I'm sitting here today, I looked back on those lists I had made less than two months ago, and I'm happy to report that we are well on our way for reaching and making our dreams happen for 2013. When I think about what has happened in the last few months alone, it's crazy to then think about this last year. In just one year, our crew...

  • Launched Rivets and Roses as an official studio
  • Hosted an art event called FOUNDIMG_0045
  • Re-designed the Photogen Inc. Website
  • Started our blog features for brides, vendors and photographers alike
  • Hosted a few MINNeSHOPS
  • Mentored 4 amazing photographers thru LOVEe Consults
  • Spoke to 5 college classes filled with some serious talent
  • Restructured our business to be more cost effective - doing business smarter is so freeing
  • Survived a tax audit
  • Documented another season of beautiful weddings for our truly, amazing clients
  • Showed the commercial book much more in NYC and to our dream clients.
  • Hosted our 3rd ELEVATE Workshop in NYC
  • Attended Bridal Fashion Week for the first time
  • Collaborated on some seriously cool commercial shoots
  • Won a few awards
  • Got published on some cool blogs and sweet magazines
  • Said good-bye to one of our favorite magazines, METRO, who had to sadly close their doors
  • Booked (and still booking) a seriously awesome roster of wedding clients for the 2013 season
  • Louisa transitioned onto going on her own and we are SO excited for her!
  • Hired Thea, our new photographer for Rivets and Roses
  • Went on vacation



WHEW! No wonder I felt so busy, that is an insane list! I definitely think we achieved beyond what I had set out for us to do; however, I also feel like there is a lot missing from this list and a lot of those things are personal things. You know, the seeing friends and family more or going to see more live music. Maybe instead of going on vacation once, I want to take more breaks to experience things. As the years go one, we change, we grow and our wants and needs change. This last year was definitely a year of business for me, and it was so so so good. I want this next year to be a year of life-and-business. Finding more balance is always the trick, but if I have one intention, it is to experience things more. People, food, fun, photos and the world. The business end of things will always be strong. I've worked my ass off to make our businesses incredible and that isn't going to stop. In fact, I am proud that I feel like we're at a point where things are running and doing well. I am so excited to enjoy that this year! I suppose my point to the post is to reflect on all of our accomplishments this past year and to THANK MY AMAZING TEAM for being with me thru all of it, you are all truly the best! My other point to this post is that if you, too, are feeling a little overwhelmed with it all, it's ok to take a moment to redefine, restructure, re-evaluate and renew yourself. Life isn't all business, there's also a lot of living to do!

And back to the idea of getting wrapped up in the 'social' world, I will very much so still be a part of it, but maybe I'll take a little step back. Instead of posting 'happy birthday' on someone's Facebook wall, I think I'm going to try and pick up the phone or have dinner with them.

Cheers to 2013 and the year ahead...I know it's going to be even better than the last!


Photogen Inc. launches new website!

Today is a BIG day for us here at Photogen Inc.! For the past 5 months, we've been putting so much time and love into creating a new website for you. My original goal was to have this site done before wedding season hit, in the beginning of May. Well, it's August 2nd and we're finally launching! For those of you who know me, you know that I never miss deadlines. I've learned SO much through this process (I even learned how to code a little bit...a very little bit) and I am SO excited to share everything we've been building for you!

As we've been working, I would mention to people that a new website is coming. Many people responded, "Why? You're site is so good!" Yes, our old site was great, but I knew we could be better. First off, we have switched servers to better serve our clients with faster loading galleries. This was quite the task to transfer all of our information and we simply have THE best clients who were patient with us during the switch! Secondly, we switched platforms! Our new site is WordPress based, which opens up a world of opportunity for us, especially when it comes to integrating social media and utilizing SEO. Lastly, we wanted to involve you more. Our blog has been great in the past and we have THE most loyal and awesome blog readers that continue to come to our blog and see the shoots we've been producing! Now, we are going to take blogging one step further! Not only will you see the latest weddings, engagement sessions and other shoots, but we will also be having three specific features each week. These blogs will feature great wedding style, vendor relations and even a weekly post for photographers! The intention with these blogs is to help educate and inspire our clients and industry!

You will also notice a clean, new look to Photogen Inc! We've lightened things up a bit and I'm absolutely in looooooove with this new look! So, go ahead! Browse around a bit and enjoy all of our portfolios, information, vendor links and the new blog! You just might find yourself on our new site!


Thank you Liz!

For the past three years, we have been SO lucky to have the wonderful Liz be our studio manager! She came to us as a young college student, ready to take on the world and now she is! As of today, Liz is officially going on her own as a freelance photo editorand I could not be more thrilled for her! Over the years, her primary focus for us here in the studio was to help me edit our work. She’s helped me edit everything from weddings to some seriously tricky commercial gigs; however, she has done SO much for us behind-the-scenes. Even though her title was technically ‘Studio Manager’, she really could also have these titles:The-Other-Side-of-Eliesa’s-BrainEliesa’s-Hair-Stylist Designer Album-Maker Eliesa’s-Schedule-Maker Behind-The-Scenes-Photo-Taker Chef Friend Magician Sanity-Keeper Personal Assistant Clothe-Dresser The-Most-Efficient-Person-You-Will-Ever-Meet-In-Your-LifeA comment we would hear over the years from our friends was “I need a Liz in my life.”I’m SO incredibly proud to see Liz taking a big leap and pursuing editing on her own! Her talents and work ethic are beyond fantastic and I’m happy that other clients of hers will now be able to ‘Have a Liz’.Have no fear, though! Liz will still be, very much so, a part of our team! Liz will continue to be our editor and will also be managing our album design as well!

Photographers – if you are interested in outsourcing your editing, either for weddings or the commercial side of things, I highly encourage this lady! Make sure to check out her website! To Liz,

Thank you for all that you have done for both myself, the Photogen Inc. and Rivets and Roses clients and our team as our studio manager! You have given so much and have, very much so, helped shape everything our companies are today! We are all better people for having you in our lives! Thank you for all of your hard work, loyalty and dedication you’ve given us! We can’t wait to see where the future takes you and we are so happy to be a part of it!



For all of you who have met Liz, please take the time to send her some love and encouragement on this awesome adventure she’s beginning! Also, make sure to check out her new website!


Under Construction!

We have some very big, fun and exciting changes happening around the studio!One of the major changes we are making is updating the Photogen Inc. Website – and let me tell you, it is going to be AMAZING!With the new site, we will be integrating much more for our clients and photographers, including: Vendor Guides & Links LOVEe Consult info & site ELEVATE Workshop info & site Instagram Feed – so you can see all of our shenanigans! Updated Portfolios A SUPER fun new blog!

We’re totally switching up the look to make it a little more clean as well. I am SO excited about this change and I can not wait to launch! We have made some giant strides in the past couple of weeks, yet we still have lots of work to do. Along with the website change, we are also switching servers at this time, so that means that whenever we are working on our new site, our current sites, online galleries and e-mail will be down.

If you ever see our ‘under construction’ page, simply know that we are working on things and we appreciate your patience!

Of course, it’s never ideal to have my e-mail down, so we are trying to work on this late at night or at low-traffic times. If our site is down and you need to e-mail me, please send mail to:

You are more than welcome to check out our facebook page and twitter account to stay up-to-date on all of the happenings!

Our goal is to get this all up and running in the next few weeks! I’ve posted a little sneak peek of the blog, so far! SO many more cool things to come!


Society 6 // Store is Live!

Hello friends!

I wanted to share with you a little project we have been working on over here at the studio! I have a pretty solid shelf of images from my personal work, and for some reason all they were doing was sitting on my hard drives! So, with the help of our crew, we put together an official store on Society 6!

If you haven't heard about Society 6 yet, I highly recommend checking out their website! Basically, it is a fantastic resource for photographers, designers and artists to get their work in front of the public for purchase. From Society 6, you can browse around and see a whole bunch of work from some amazing artists. You can then purchase products of our work from their site!

In my store, you will be able to purchase prints, canvas, laptop skins, iphone cases and the occasional t-shirt :-o  Make sure to check out the store to see if there is anything you love!

I will be updating the store on a regular basis with fresh work as well!


European Journey // Amalfi Coast Part 2

I'm currently back at home, in the studio, writing you all this final blog post of my European adventures! I have to admit, it's nice being back in my space, with my fast internet and I have a new appreciation for my little world I live in here in Minneapolis. It's always so exciting to travel to far away lands, but this city never fails to come home to.

This post is one of my favorites. On this trip, the most amount of time was spent in a little coastal Italian town called Amalfi. Amalfi is gorgeous. It's breathtaking. No picture will ever be able to do it justice. February is definitely smack dab in the middle of the 'slow season' for this town. Amalfi thrives on the summer, with tourists flocking to their amazing beaches, so when it's slow, no one seems to care about the tourists and because of this, I was able to observe and see what this little town is really like, when all of the glitz and glamour is on hold.

Amalfi is simply enchanting and it's everything you expect it to be for a small Italian village. Laundry is hung to dry on the lines, and everyone lunches and naps for a good portion of the afternoon. The shops close down and the locals gather in their homes. The men sit outside of their bars and smoke endless amounts of cigarettes while the women walk with their shopping carts to the markets to buy fresh produce. Life is slow, the waves are crashing and everyone is content. One afternoon I bought a TON of spiced, fresh olives from the market for only 1 Euro and sat and ate them on the rocks, a simple pleasure that was so amazing. Another day, I slept 9 whole hours to the sounds of the was a perfect place for rest.

Most of these photos feature the colors and textures of the town. I posted some of my favorite portraits, entitled The People of Amalfi over on my commercial blog. It's a great little post and I got a bit personal with it as well, so I encourage you all to check it out!

[blogshow id=4f40d2c1da12a player=0 autoplay=0 toolbar=0]

Going on this trip was everything I hoped it would be! I indulged in food, in wine, in rest and in simply wandering with my camera, which was exactly what I needed.

I hope you've enjoyed all of this! It's been so much fun to share and hear your responses!

Have an awesome weekend!


European Journey // Amalfi Coast Part 1

The next part of my vacation took me to the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Now, I honestly didn't know much about this place when I booked it...I had just heard that it was gorgeous! It was more than gorgeous, it was simply stunning.

When I booked this entire trip, which was just a few weeks ago, my mission was to literally get away. To relax, eat Italian food, drink local wine and experience a culture I never had before. I am most inspired when I am in a new place and space. I looooooove soaking up 'real life' in a new culture and Amalfi was about as local as I could get. It's not particularly easy to get to, it's about a 3 hour train ride from Rome and then another hour by bus (and I must mention, if you have motion out!). The roads are nothing but sharp turns and switchbacks, but little by little I was transported into this very enchanting world called Amalfi.

My first day there, I spent doing absolutely nothing. It had been go-go-go in my travels so far, so I slept in and went on a bit of a day hike down to the beach. I didn't really come prepared for hiking and it was still quite chilly out, but it was well worth the walk to completely decompress, relax and take in all of the beauty around me!

[blogshow id=4f3f729fad5f6 player=0 autoplay=0 toolbar=0]

More on the town of Amalfi in my next post!


European Journey // Rome, Part 1

The saying goes, " When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do"...I kind of feel like this is the same statement along the lines of, " What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas". Maybe I thought that Rome was going to be a much more lively place, but I was pleasantly surprised by this city. It's a big city, yet much much smaller than I thought it was by map. You can walk literally EVERYWHERE in a short amount of time, and also see so many of the sights along the way! Many people told me about 2-3 days was the perfect amount of time to spend here and I couldn't agree more.

Of course, when we were landing into Rome, as the plane descended through the clouds, I had pictured some super green rolling hills and olive or wine vineyards,  and really, there was just a ton of snow. Turns out, Rome had just experienced the biggest amount of snowfall in 25 years. The city was basically shut down due to the weather, even though, by Minnesota standards, that meant nothing. I had really wanted to rent a moped during my stay here and no one was renting, for fear of snow. Restaurants and bars were shutting down early, but I was perfectly happy with exploring all that was available, which were mostly the sights.

Rome is an ancient beauty and there is so much history. I learned a few things while I was there, such as a traditional style of pizza is not just served as one big pie, but also on more of a thicker, Focaccia bread, which is sold by the weight-of-the-cut you choose to buy. The city is also divided by the canals and it's pretty incredible how instantly, you are transported into another 'vibe' of the city. For instance, in the central, there's the big shopping streets, the Colosseum, and just a big hub of energy all around. Then, when you walk over the bridge to the Trastevere neighborhood, it's instantly way more quiet and charming, with very narrow cobblestone roads and tiny little establishments. I liked this place the best.

[blogshow id=4f3a8ee5453d5 player=0 autoplay=0 toolbar=0]

Tomorrow, I'm actually headed back to Rome for one more night and I'm hoping to hit up a specific restaurant that has been a dream of mine to visit. Fingers crossed, it has an open table. Then I'm off to Amsterdam for one more day before heading back to the states!

The next stop of this adventure is along the Amalfi Coast of Italy...stay tuned! :0)


European Journey // Amsterdam

Hello Friends!

I'm currently sitting seaside on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, where the water is turquoise blue and even though it is too cold to swim, the sounds of the waves alone are enough to relax. The sun is coming in hot through the window and I have the tiniest bit of an internet connection, so I thought I would do a little bit of blogging.

I decided to take this trip a few weeks ago. No real plans, just meeting my friend in Amsterdam and then traveling onto Italy. It's been quite fun! In true Eliesa fashion, within hours of landing in Amsterdam, I lost 100 Euro (literally, it's like a $100 bill went poof, lost...), my converter didn't work with my hair dryer, so I not only blew that up, but I also blew all of the fuses in the flat, you know - all klutzy little things that happen to me on a daily basis.

My time in Amsterdam was quite short, but very fun! It was freezing, like seriously cold, but I'm from Minnesota, so I could handle it, right?!? This whole trip has actually been on the chilly side, so I've been living in jackets and hats, but I'll also take 30, 40 or 50 degrees over 1 degree any day! Amsterdam is adorable. The city is made for biking, which I love, but I also felt like I got the chance to experience life from a 'local' stand point. I stayed in an apartment with some new-found-friends and we went to the market to get ingredients for dinner, which cooking is one of my all-time-favorite things to do, so I was very happy about staying in! I learned that one of the Dutch have a huge liking to sandwiches, specifically just bread, butter and cheese. It's something so simple, but so. damn. good; especially with the cheeses they have there!

Amsterdam overall is very cute. The people there seem to be very active and happy. Since the city is built on canals and it's literally freezing, the waterways are packed with people ice skating, playing hockey and even going to get a drink from a pub on the water (really, it's a boat that is iced in, so they turned it into a bar...with Abba blaring from the speakers...brilliant!)

[blogshow id=4f3a4aaa15077 player=0 autoplay=0 toolbar=0]

Hope you enjoyed a few photos from Holland! Next stop, Rome.


p.s..Happy Valentines Day to you all!

Checking Out // Vacation!


Yes! It’s true, I’m going on vacation! A much needed vacation, in fact! I’m off on a bit of a travel-whirlwind for the next couple of weeks. My first stop will be in Amsterdam, then onto Italy…specifically Rome and the Amalfi Coast. After my European adventures, I’ll be flying straight to Las Vegas for WPPI – photographers, will I see you there?

I will be out of the studio from February 8 – 23rd.

Feel free to follow my instagram feed (if you have an iphone, I’m under eliesajohnson) and twitter accounts (@photogeninc & @eliesajohnson) to keep up on all of my adventures!


A Look Back at 2011!

The year Two Thousand Eleven has been a whirlwind, to say the least! I honestly can't believe I'm already writing another end-of-the-year blog post! It's absolutely crazy to think that an entire year has gone by so fast, yet after going through our blog posts this past year, it's insane the amount of things we've accomplished here at Photogen Inc.!First and foremost, I have to thank all of our AMAZING wedding clients and vendors we've had the opportunity to work with this last year! We are lucky enough to have THE most fabulous clients who are just as excited about working with us as we are with them. This makes our job a million times more enjoyable, and we have loved each and every single wedding from this last season! 2011blog0001.jpg

At this time last year, the ELEVATE Workshop was a simple idea in my head I was trying to make come to life. In 2011, we hosted not one, but TWO successful workshops and each one was SO. MUCH. FUN. Hosting these workshops has been just as much a learning and growth experience for me, just as it is for the attendees. It's been a true pleasure to teach and serve every single talented photographer that has signed up. I've also been fortunate enough to collaborate with the most amazing industry talent to make these workshops come to life! You better believe there will be more ELEVATE Workshops! You can look back at recaps from our workshops HERE, HERE, and HERE.

2011blog0002.PNG2011blog0003.PNGBelow are the group shots from both ELEVATE Workshops + a local MINNeSHOP we hosted this past year!

2011blog0005.PNG2011blog0006.PNG In addition to the workshops, I've been lucky enough to mentor several photographers over the year thru LOVEe Consults, which is the consulting side of the business! These are one-on-one mentor sessions and I love them SO much! Each and every photographer we've worked with has made GIANT strides in their businesses and it's so exciting to see the change!

2011blog0007.jpg We partied in Vegas this last year with all of our friends across the country, which was SO much fun!

2011blog0008.PNG Several of our lovely weddings were published in both print and on national blogs: Style Me Pretty, Southern Weddings, Grace Ormonde, Munaluchi Bride, Minnesota Bride & Luxe Mountain Weddings.


We moved into our new studio, which we absolutely adore!

2011blog0010.PNG I attended my second Engage conference at the Grand Del Mar this past year and, as always, it was an amazing week! I'm so looking forward to going back in 2012!

2011blog0012.PNG2011blog0013.PNG On a personal note, I had one of the funnest summers of my life! I actually made a point to attend many concerts, street festivals, and even go on a couple of trips, including sailing around the British Virgin Islands and climbing a mountain! One of my goals last year was to spend more time with family and friends and I think I definitely improved on least a little bit :0)

2011blog0014.PNG2011blog0015.PNG 2011blog0016.PNG2011blog0017.PNG So, here's to 2012! I can already tell this is going to be one-hell-of-a-year! We're spicing things up around here, restructuring, hiring some new talent, launching some new websites and hosting some smashing events! As far as my goals go for the next year, I'm already well on my way. I make my to-do-list on my birthday, and even looking at my goals since October, a lot has already been accomplished!

2012 is also going to be one amazing wedding season! Every single wedding we have booked so far is going to be absolutely incredible and I'm also very excited to work with many very talented vendors this year as well!

2011blog0018.jpg Please raise a glass of bubbly wi th me and cheers to all of the good things that happened in 2011 and to all of the even bigger things that are bound to happen in 2012!

Thank you to my crew, each and every one of you, who help me realize these dreams every day! You are all THE BEST and I couldn't do it without you!


Happy Holidays from your Photogen Inc. Family!

Happy Holidays Blog Readers!!!!A very special thank you to each and every one of you who believe in everything we do here at Photogen Inc! 2011 was a very exciting year for us, but 2012 is going to be even bigger, right out of the gates! We have some major announcements coming your way just after the new year, so stay tuned! Every day I wake up and get to collaborate with amazing clients and creatives both in Minneapolis and around the country. I'm very much so living my dream, all because of you and for that I am forever thankful! It's the best gift a girl could ask for!




Whooop! It's My Birthday!

Today is my birthday and I am exactly where I want to be. Every year, on my birthday, I wake up, have a little personal reflection and look back at my blog posts from the previous years on this day. This is the day that I evaluate what I've accomplished in the last year and it's also the perfect day to set new goals! I'm a BIG goal person, I believe in writing them down, and sharing your intentions with others (ahem, you lovely blog readers) in order to make them happen!

Myself and my AMAZING team have accomplished SO much in the past year! One of my goals last year was to launch a workshop...we've not only put on one, but TWO amazing ELEVATE events this year! Another one of my goals was to stay in touch more with friends and family! Yes, my life is extremely busy, it's true, but especially this past summer, I've experienced more life with the most amazing people in my life and it's honestly been SO MUCH FUN! Block parties, music festivals, camping trips, climbing mountains, Monday night HH, sailing, biking, pub crawls, ridiculous laugh fests with the best friend...I mean, it has really been SO much fun. I feel like I am getting much better at the whole work-life-balance-thing everyone talks about!

I think the most interesting, and one of the things I'm most proud of at the moment was my first goal on the list last year: Pounding the Pavement. I wrote this:

"Pound the Pavement: I'm always talking about 'taking things to the next level' and everything is perfectly in place! Every time you move up in the world, you start from ground zero again! I'm excited to continue building new relationships and branching out on a national level!"

I have been working my ass off this last year, really trying to connect with the people I want to work with, both on weddings and also on the commercial side of things! It's fitting that I'm currently in NYC right now, in the midst of a solid week of meeting and networking with potential clients. I kind of feel like all of the hustle I've put into the last year is starting to pay off a little bit. The thing about this hustle is that every little, tiny, itty bitty step forward is a GIANT victory. In many ways, this week is defining for me, because I'm officially putting myself out there in a BIG way that will more than likely end with more rejection than I've ever faced in a short amount of time, but I'm also craving that. I want to be pushed in a BIG way, I want to play with the BIG players, and I want to create BIG work and share that with this BIG world. As you all have probably gathered, I'm a bit on the ambitious side and no idea is ever a small one in my brain. I'm all about going big or going home, and that motto has never, ever failed me.

So, as I'm putting together my list of goals for next year, a few things have been checked off, a few things have changed, but many of them are staying the same! I feel in SO many ways that I am just beginning and still have so much to do, and I believe that having focus in these goals is key. In the next year, I want to...

Continue to Pound the Pavement: I want to continue to connect with my dream clients to get my dream projects! There are several wedding coordinators, event designers, florists, venues, art directors, editors and publications that I want to work for. Relationship building takes so much time, but it is 100% necessary.

10 &10 Plan: I have this goal that I think will be amazing! It's going to take me a while to get there, but I want to shoot 10 amazing, jaw dropping, destination weddings per year, along with 10 kick-ass-cool editorial gigs.

Book 1&1: I want to book at least one AMAZING wedding with one of the people on my 'dream list' above and also book an editorial/commercial job as well. I need to officially make one step forward to my 10&10 plan.

Get a Back Massage: Seems simple, but I. NEED. ONE. And a glass of champagne.

Travel: I still want to take that 3-4 week trip.

Boss Lady: I have the BEST team in the entire world. Honestly, you all know who you are and you continually amaze me at the work you produce, but also how supportive you are of making Photogen Inc. a success! It's important for me to continue to create a culture and environment that we can all grow in and ultimately give an amazing product and experience to all of our clients! 

Teach More: ELEVATE is well on it's way to being a staple in our calendar and it's been SO amazing to teach and serve photographers! In addition to the big workshops, LOVEe Consults is one of my all-time-favorite things to do besides shoot! I absolutely LOVE that one-on-one teaching and mentoring, it is so great to see the shift in people's minds and then to see how they apply that and grow - seriously, there is nothing better than changing someone's world.

Remember That I am Only One Person: Everything I do is for you. Everything I do is for my team, clients and industry. Everything I do is to inspire. Sometimes I need to remember that I am only one person, but that I am fabulous.

Continue to Inspire: This is what keeps me going. This is the beauty of what I do. Each and every day, I have the opportunity to inspire others. How amazing is that?


As I sit here, I don't want to get all cheezy on you, but I do want to thank each and every one of you. To my friends, family, crew, and clients, you are all ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! I am one girl, with a big dream, but I am also surrounded by THE BEST people, and it is all of you who allow me to do what I love every. single. day. For this, I am forever grateful, so thank you, thank you for supporting me and believing in everything we do!

I am truly #LivingTheDream


Yellowstone // The iphone Experience!

 I've been on vacation this past week, which was a great adventure in the back country of Yellowstone! (You can read all about the journey in my very personal blog post from yesterday...)

I packed all of my equipment for this trip and I ended up taking SO many pictures with...dun, dun, iphone! I have to say, there are SO many cool photo apps out there now, that are incredibly cool creative tools! My all-time-favorite app is Instagram - if you're not on it, get on it! It's like twitter, but image-only and I love how it's a live-feed of photos that you can literally have a look into your 'friend's' lives, from their artistic perspective!

I fell in love with many of my Instagram and iphone photos, so I thought I would share some with you! There is always the debate, whether an image is determined by the photographer or their equipment. Yes, it's a little bit of both, but I like to think that any great image comes from a true artist, no matter what their medium!

[blogshow id=4e6f931b721b6 player=0 autoplay=0 toolbar=0]