Creative Reading

I, Emily Pierce, am a book worm. And yes, I do pass some judgement on the stacks (or lack there of in some cases) of catalogs, books, and magazines that litter most people’s book shelves and coffee tables. In fact, there is a pretty good chance I will pull something from your shelf and ask if I can borrow it for a read. Should I be around your office space or home, you can consider yourself warned, haha. (And don’t worry, if I like a borrowed book, I go out and buy myself a copy instead of “acquiring” your copy. :) )

The first time I met Kyle, he asked me “Have you read any good books lately?” And I have to say, that was such a refreshing question to hear. As a creative in the “digital age” it can be so easy to hop on the internet for inspiration or to navigate over and see what your peers are creating. (Don’t get me wrong, I sure do love me some Pinterest and Instagram) however, these can sometimes be the equivalent of a restaurant drive-thru when it comes to inspiration. I do believe there is a place for “inspiration/creative instant gratification”, if you will, however with most things in life, balance is key. For me, books are where I turn to for balance.

Reading to me feels deeply personal. Its just my mind, the printed page, and my pen. When I was a freshman in college, a thoughtful professor encouraged me to write, doodle and highlight within the pages and it has done wonders for recall, imaginative exploration, critical thinking, brainstorming and plans for world domination (just kidding on the world takeover bit, hehe!). I highly encourage everyone to mark-up their books, catalogs, and magazines… really wherever inspiration may strike on a page! I never cease to be surprised about where the written word leads me… I often find myself reaching for my sketch pad mid-paragraph to conceptualize an idea. Overall though, the best part for me is just exercising my mind and exposing myself to new perspectives of thinking and interpretation. The mission has never been content for my sketch book or finding the next great idea, but just the act of allowing my imagination to run free without the pollution of technology or overstimulation of the typical day-to-day.

All of this said, I encourage each person to visit your local bookstore or library and pick something out that sparks your interest. Reading isn’t a race, so take your time. If it takes you a year to read it, well, it takes you a year. If you’re in the greater Nashville area, I highly recommend Parnassus Books located in the Green Hills area – they haven’t lead me wrong in a recommendation yet! As for me, I thought I would share some recommendations of my own. Below is a list of books/publications that have been highlights of 2016 for me that I keep coming back to reference. Enjoy!

– Emily

  • The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra
    This book was a gift from my husband and it is easily one of the top ten best books I have ever read. I cannot recommend it enough! Don’t believe me? Do a quick Google and read the reviews for yourself. :) 
  • Uppercase Magazine
    Dreier & Company subscribes to this gem, so whenever I’m in a creative rut in the office, I flip through the pages! I always walk away feeling inspired by the creativity and curiosity of this publication. 
  • The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
    This book is an insightful and entertaining look at why certain products frustrate us, as well as, cognitive clues on how to design better products for the consumer market. Side note: this book made me feel 100% better about consistently flipping the wrong light switches in my house, haha!
  • Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!) by George Lois
    This is a fun, quick read with direct, blunt, and highly useful advice on how to attack your creative potential. Although George Lois comes from an advertising background, I found that his advice applies to all sectors of the creative life.
  • Spruce: A Step-By-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design by Amanda Brown
    Nerd Alert! This isn’t a cup of cocoa by the fireside read, but a favorite of mine to reference. And yes, I have read it cover to cover. One of my favorite hobbies is refurbishing antique/vintage furniture. I’m currently restoring a mid-century dining set and between sets of sanding I’ll thumb through the beautiful step-by-steps of Amanda’s projects.

Emily, Book Recommendations

Emily, Book Recommendations

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A Comfy Work Space

I am a creature of comfort to my core, and I am definitely a nester. So, whatever space I am in, I want to feel comfy and at home and like it is mine. Not like a rented box that anyone in the world could be occupying without any signs of personality. I love to have my things around me.

Work spaces are sometimes difficult to feel “at home” in. Mostly because they aren’t home, but also because they are often spaces filled with stress. The ole 9-to-5 (although our hours are technically 8-to-4 on non-shoot days). Also, because they aren’t really your space. You don’t own it (for those that work for a company like I do). So, I often hesitate to bring my things to work. It feels like imposing.

But with time, I have become more comfortable setting up my work space how I would like it within the parameters of the work environment; and it has been so beneficial to my daily life. Having a high-stress project management job, it makes a big difference to be able to sit down at my desk and feel comfortable. Or to be able to close my office door and play my own music, or light a candle, or simply feel a little peace and quiet when time allows surrounded by the colors and things that I enjoy seeing.

It’s nice to feel like you’re getting to put a little bit of yourself into the space, and it also comes in handy when you have a boss and co-workers who take notice of your preferences and help accommodate them. :) For instance, I don’t like overhead lighting. It feels harsh. So I almost never have lights on in my office (it helps that there is a big window allowing natural light in). However, after months of battling over the light switch (when people would walk in my office, they’d turn the lights on; the second they left, I’d turn them back off), I put white Christmas lights up during the holidays in my office as a solution for when I did need additional lighting. Well, after some time, I arrived to work to see that John and Kyle had hung permanent twinkle lights in my office for me in place of the Christmas lights. It’s the little things, ya know?!

Anyways, here’s a few pictures of my office space. Some things I’ve added, some that have been gifted, some I’ve simply found around the studio. It’s still probably more a blank slate than anything else, but it makes me smile to be able to have little touches of things that I enjoy.

– Erica



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I Saw The Sign

Probably one of the most satisfying things about my work life is getting to collaborate with and rub elbows with talented people in many different disciplines. We certainly have our fair share of greatness within our walls (Erica, John, Emily), but we also get to hire people to come in and elevate our efforts. Each production has experts in their specialized areas whether it be food styling, lighting, props or catering. But, there are also artisans we get to work with aside from our food photography productions.

When I finally stopped dragging my feet about what to put on the side of our freshly painted building I knew I wanted to find a traditional (old school) sign painter. Little did I know I would find an artist, a craftsman and a fellow lover of hand painted goodness all in one. Meghan Wood is the talented hands and superior brains behind I Saw The Sign, an old school, hand painting, creative sign company here in Nashville.

Now that I’ve completely built her up to super hero status…here’s some snaps of her in action. You can see her other great work around Nashville at


sign maker nashville

nashville sign painter

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Tech Talk: File Management

For a Digital Technician one of the most important aspects of your job is file management. File management can be everything from naming and labeling files as they come in, to making sure that there are backups (upon backups, upon backups…) of everything. During a shoot there is not a lot of downtime to be rummaging through hard drives and folders making sure everything is backing up properly. Being able to automate that process is a huge help and is an excellent way to stay efficient on set. Finding a program that can do some of the behind the scenes work for you is a must. For me that program is Chronosync. It is a $50 program that is an absolute wizard. It allows me to get all of my hard drive and folder backups organized on the front end of a shoot, all the while, neatly backing up and synchronizing as we shoot without me having to lift a finger. Having all the backups taken care of not only frees up my time, but also frees up my brain because I have one less process to worry about. I can stay focused on the shoot; making sure color is correct, focus is crisp, and the sensor is clean without having to worry about getting to the end of the day and realizing the client’s hard drive is missing 40 photos.

There are a multitude of programs that can do this and it’s never fun to pay $50, so do some research and find a program that works best for you. It is a must have for any digital technician and once you have a program taking care of those behind the scenes details, you will see that you are able to focus more on the shoot itself without having to sweat the small stuff. If you’re interested, you can check out Chronosync here.

– John

BTS John

BTS John

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Erica: Venturing into the World of Cooking…

I have been asked to write a blog post about food, but the joke’s on y’all because I don’t know anything about food (other than how to schedule a photo shoot for it). However, I recently got married and have been venturing into the world of cooking… ever so slowly… one tip-toe at a time.

During my single years, my diet consisted primarily of spaghetti (cooked or dry for that matter), fast food or frozen meals. Needless to say, that doesn’t quite work anymore—for me or my husband.

Keep in mind though, he does not expect me to cook and often encourages me not to worry about it (he’d happily eat out for every meal), but along with the adventures of marriage comes the adventures of budgeting and planning, etc.; so I have taken this grocery shopping/cooking adventure upon myself. And thankfully, I get to work with people who cook food and make it pretty for a living, so I have many sources of advice surrounding me. :)

After photo shoots, we often have a lot of food leftover that gets sent to the Nashville Rescue Mission; but some of it is opened or items we can’t take there, so we all “grocery shop” for ourselves. Most of the time I look at the things leftover and draw a blank. My mind is not inventive or creative when it comes to food, and I frankly just don’t know enough about cooking to know what I could make with an assortment of seemingly random things. Our wonderful food stylists are always quick to offer me ideas and suggestions though. Telling me what would go well with what, the best way to prepare it, or even offering a recipe I can follow. (My husband has them to thank for a number of our dinners.)

I’ve only recently begun to feel confident with my weekly grocery/meal plans and often ask friends for suggestions regarding any go-to recipes that they like. Admittedly, sometimes I have to google things on the ingredient list or a process that the writer has matter-of-factly stated in the instructions that a beginner like me has no clue what it means. (Oh, hey blanching, glad to know what you mean now.) Maybe one day, I’ll reach expert level.

Until that time comes though, here is one of mine and my husband’s favorite (and easy) dinners to make. This was recommended to me by an art producer at an agency we often work with. My husband has always claimed he didn’t like salmon, and she said her’s had done the same… until she tried this recipe. So, I tried it as well and it was a success! Feel free to try it for yourself sometime by following this link.

– Erica

Meal Spread, Editorial

Meal Spread, Editorial

Images from the Dreier & Company archive.
Client: American Diabetes Association
Food Photography: Kyle Dreier
Food Styling: Whitney Kemp

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Summer Time

When I was a kid, summer time meant play time (except when I was 10 and my family spent the entire hot Texas summer renovating a house…but that’s a whole other story). Not much has changed for me. The anticipation of summer leads me to think about what to do for fun, and work. Fun at home typically involves me and my wife dragging our boys out to do something she and I want to do, or the boys dragging us to the soccer fields or community pool.

Here at the studio I like to play a bit with some non-client shoot days. We call in a stylist (or two) and chip away at ideas that have been circling my head. It’s a play day, but like many things with me, there’s a goal to our efforts. This particular project (see “& Food” here) has a life of its own. It will take us into next year, but for now we have a few in the can. We’ll share more later. Below are some of the images we shot last week with Nashville food stylist Callie Blount. We enjoy her spontaneous editorial approach to styling.

We’ve enjoyed our play time here at work, thankfully all in the comfort of the air conditioned studio.

– Kyle
Peaches & Cream - Ampersand

Peaches & Cream

Peaches & Cream

Food Photography by Kyle Dreier  |  Food Styling by Callie Blount  |  Prop Wrangling by Emily Pierce

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