Eliesa! Photo courtesy of Photogen Inc.

When I decided to start the fancy feature story, I knew right away that I wanted to feature Eliesa Johnson, owner and lead photographer of Photogen Inc. Anyone who has ever met her knows what I’m talking about. I first met Eliesa at my good friend’s wedding a few years back and the instant I spoke with her, I felt her energy, warmth, love for life and passion.

Since then I’ve had the great fortune of getting to know her a bit better. We ran the Twin Cities one-mile race together. Check out the photos from the race. And she photographed my wedding! Every time I spend a few minutes with Eliesa, her enthusiasm radiates! I feel happier, more passionate and energetic after five minutes with her. The girl has energy! Read her blog. Seriously! Her blog is FUN! It picks me up on a not-so-fancy days. You will learn quickly after reading her blog that she truly believes we decide our own attitudes each day and we create our own luck. I agree. Read on to be inspired and find out some of Eliesa’s top picks for places to hang out in Minneapolis.

What are some things that you fancy most?

  • My Frye Boots + Heels
    I love shoes and my Frye’s are hands down the best purchases I have ever made for my sweet feet! They are SO well made and uber comfortable – and that is coming from the girl who really can’t stand wearing heels. I can walk in my Frye heels for 12 hours, no problem.
  • Haute Chocolate
    And by haute, I mean couture chocolate! I looooove
    Vosges chocolates-and they have the best little boutique stores all around the country. My favorite is the store in Vegas! If you like to shop local, there is another fabulous chocolatier that I just found named B.T. McElrath (available at Surdyk’s)- they have a bar called the Salty Dog that is to DIE for!
  • My friends + crew
    I have THE best friends a girl could ask for and THE best team! I think it is super important to surround yourself with good people and also people that will support you and make you a better person! A lot of what I do is amazing, simply because of the team effort that is put into it! We post a lot of behind-the-scene pictures of all our shenanigans on our Photogen Inc. Facebook Page.
  • Ray LaMontagne
    He is my all time favorite musician and I listen to him all the time. Unfortunately, I have yet to see him live, since every time he comes to Minneapolis I am photographing something important! Ray is my man when it comes to music!

Name your top five places to hang out in the Twin Cities.

  • My Studio
    I am here all the time and I love having a creative space to come and work in everyday!
  • Northeast Minneapolis dive bars
    I love this neighborhood! I love the fact that there are churches and bars on every corner! I particularly like the 331 Club or Mayslack’s. They have awesome live music on the weekends.
  • The Lakes (in the summer)
    Weekends off are very special to me in the summer and there is nothing better than taking an afternoon to hang out at the beach! I also think it’s very unique that Minneapolis has so many options right in the city!
  • Bar La Grassa
    It’s my new favorite restaurant – not to mention the atmosphere is fantastic. It’s downtown Minneapolis but you feel like you are in Manhattan.
  • Underneath the 35W Bridge
    Seriously, if you haven’t been down there yet, go! I usually go down there to clear my head a little bit, but it’s really an amazingly cool structure. And it’s still very new and clean and pretty and white…and another perspective of the city!

What inspired you to start your own business and live your passion?

I always knew I wanted to have a business, but I didn’t know how. Literally, one day, I went to Barnes & Noble and purchased a book on ‘How to Start a Business’ and went from there. I surrounded myself with people who knew business as well and I discovered this inner passion for business, which along with my photography was the perfect combo!

It is definitely something I worked towards for years to be where I am at now. I worked many odd jobs to pay for my equipment, to get health insurance, etc… before getting to a point where I could actually pay myself and support a staff. I am so glad that I chose to take my time and build this business, all self-funded, because I appreciate everything so much more than if I would have taken out a big loan and had massive amounts of debt. Owning a business takes a lot of hard work and dedication, but it is also so rewarding and so much fun! Everyday I am able to come into a space that I have earned and created and take photos and inspire people…yeah, it’s a REAL rough gig!

Where was the last place you went for a night with your friends or just a night on the town?

The last place I was introduced to was Bar La Grassa which is at the top of my list for places to go at the moment! I absolutely LOVE the atmosphere and the food is phenomenal. What I love about the space is that you can pop in for a drink with your friends or host a private dinner party there and everything in between! I love this place because it’s a true collaboration between the best chefs in Minneapolis. I think making good food is absolutely an art – and overall, there needs to be way more artist collaborations in this city! Not only did they hit there stride with the food, but also created a space where people can truly come and have a good drink, good convo and a fabulous dinner!


Photos courtesy of Photogen Inc.

Doesn’t Eliesa rock? I plan to check out Bar La Grassa in the coming weeks thanks to Eliesa’s tip. I’ll let you know how that goes. Fancy Feature-Eliesa Part II is coming later this week.  E-mail any fancy story ideas including your recommendations for people to feature in the “fancy feature” to

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