Ria Lee (Elton) focuses on one subject, as they explore the sights of Fargo
A Pelican Rapids native with a photographic eye and an imaginative angle on a children’s book project has gone from concept to the printing presses and on the store shelves.
Ria (Elton) Dzichotzki, who operates a photo studio in downtown Fargo and has a fondness for photographing kids, has published “Rosie Goes to Fargo.” The colorful, hardcover package is both a children’s volume—and a coffee table book, with familiar Fargo scenes.
The book is being introduced to readers and families in her hometown Pelican Rapids during the holidays, at local retailers Riverview Place and Pelican Drug.
Those familiar with the vibrant downtown scene will recognize the Fargo Theater, Donaldson’s Hotel, and Zanbroz book and gift store.
The 1994 Pelican High School graduate built the idea around following one youngster around Fargo from morning to bedtime. Her subject: Two-year-old Rosie Block.
Photographer and subject also visited the Red River Zoo during their travels, which were all photographed in the summer of 2019.
Photography has evolved to a profession for Ria, who has operated a studio in downtown Fargo since 2008—specializing in photographing children and families. Choosing a family friend, Rosie, was a logical extension of her photo specialty—while enabling her to schedule one photo subject, in various settings.
“The entire venture of writing and self-publishing a children’s book about Fargo was so fulfilling,” noted Ria.
It’s no surprise that Ria would eventually become an avid, professional shooter.
“When I was a young child I used to ‘play photographer’ and set my dolls up on the front step and take their pictures with a real camera,” recalled Ria. “My parents even let me get the film developed. I’ve always been drawn to design, but didn’t get interested in photography seriously until I had children.”
Ria and her husband are Moorhead residents, with four grown children. Her education background was in elementary and special education, and she also operated an in-home child care business.
She has strong and deep ties to Pelican Rapids, though there are fewer relatives in the immediate Pelican area, as time has passed.
Her parents are Dan Elton and Sandi (Elton) Wyman and grandparents were long time Pelican residents, Arland and Kathryn Elton, and Bean and Art Christianson. Mike and Sherri (Elton) Nettestad; and Bard and Lorrie (Elton) Miller are extended family still in the Pelican area.
Artistic inspiration was also evident in her years as a Pelican student.
“I was always in art classes in high school and Jim Fletcher was very inspirational in showing us how to find ways to enjoy art for ourselves, not just to make a living. He would tell us about art shows where he was displaying his work and it was fun to see that he got to fill his cup in that way, outside of being an art educator,” stated Ria. Retired Pelican art educator Fletcher is frequently mentioned by alumni as influencing their artistic pursuits, as a hobby and simple appreciation—as well as career, with a number of alumni.
“To this day, I’m happiest when I’m creating work just for myself. Being inspired by the things and people around me and not having an end goal in mind. Sometimes when your hobby or interest becomes your profession it can take some of the fun out of it, so I try to make sure I find time to do projects that are just for me, to be able to keep a little bit of the magic of photography alive,” noted Ria.
Personal projects are a way for her to engage at more of an individual and family level. She is beginning work on a personal ancestral heritage photo book, collecting old photographs of her families’ ancestors to compile in a digital photo album that she can pass down to her children.
“It’s reminding me of the importance of printed photographs and how we can tell a story in just one snap of the shutter. I’ve always been fascinated by the camera’s ability to stop time.”
Her children’s book, Rosie Goes To Fargo launched earlier this year and in September, she was featured on the cover of Midwest Nest magazine.
“It still feels crazy to walk into a local shop and see Rosie Goes To Fargo for sale on the shelf,” said Ria. In addition to the Pelican locations of Riverview and Pelican Drug, the books are displayed at Handpicked Goods, Eco Chic Home, and Zanbroz in Fargo.