How I’m Losing All My Music

This morning I was talking to a friend of mine about a new single release by a French electronic band who hasn’t released an album since 2011. This band has a special place in my heart. I have seen them twice. Once in New York City; where my friend Neil and I flew to NYC, landed at 11am, toured New York all day until the concert, which started at 12 a.m. (Yes. Midnight.) Then we flew back home at 7 a.m. that same morning. I didn’t pack a bag and didn’t sleep for over 24 hours. The second time was in Atlanta and this time I went with Neil and my other buddy, John. It’s become a fun tradition between the three of us and we plan on seeing them on their next tour.

Anyway, I was talking to my friend John about the new single and I realized it had probably been a year since I listened to, or even thought to listen to, this band. How could that be? Really, a whole year? There are so many fun memories associated with this band… how could I have forgotten about them? So I started thinking about why that happened and I figured it out. Music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, etc.

Music streaming services have completely stalled the preservation of music for me. Don’t get me wrong, having access to essentially any song you want to hear is amazing most of the time, but for preserving music it is a disaster. I used to have an iPod packed full of music. To find a song I wanted, I would have to scroll through my endless library and see each artist as they went by. That process resulted in seeing the names of bands I hadn’t listened to in a long time. It would reinvigorate my love for them. There were so many times when I’d have a song in mind, but halfway down my artist list, I’d have a “Woah! I haven’t listened to this in forever.” moment.

With streaming services I have a song in mind and I go straight to it. Having the ability to do that is making the shelf life of artists and songs extremely short. In a year, I may not be able to remember the name of the song or even the name of the artist for a jam I blasted in my car 5 times a day during the summer of 2016. Another negative side effect of this is that I’m losing so many memories. My iTunes might as well be a giant home movie. You know when you hear a song and you’re immediately transported back to an amazing time and place. That used to happen all the time! Now it only happens in reverse. I have to somehow get to the memory first, which rarely happens, then search for the song. It’s a lot easier when you have a way to trigger the memory. We are living in a time where instant gratification is the norm. It’s great that I have every song at my fingertips, but what am I losing by not owning a hard copy or seeing it in my iTunes library everyday? The more I think about it the more I feel like I’m losing a lot.

Now living in the past in general is not a great thing to do, so I’m not saying cancel your memberships and daydream all day about being in high school, haha. I am just saying maybe revisit your vinyl, cd, and tape collections or your iTunes account every so often to remember some amazing artists, songs and memories just so you don’t lose them.

On this note, I’m thankful to say we have access to both “current” and “past” musical libraries in our studio. We’ve got Pandora streaming via touchscreen technology for when we just want to tap into a certain work mood on set, and on the flip side, we have started a record collection (and encourage clients, visitors, agencies to bring their favorites to spin on set!) for when we want to spin some vinyl and connect deliberately with an era from each of our lives.

– John

John & the jams

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Halloween Time

Halloween. I LOVE it.

One day, I’m going to be settled enough at our new house, that I’m going to venture into hosting the most amazing Halloween cocktail party ever. (This year is not that year, unfortunately.) I imagine blacks, whites, golds, browns, dark purples and reds, etc. coupled with skulls, bones, bats, ghouls and ghosts, antique embellishments, and lots of plants/florals. It will be marvelous and have candles galore. I know it’s probably blasphemy to the holiday, but orange will be at a minimum. (Sorry, but it’s my least favorite color.)

Themed drinks with dry ice (look up some recipes!) will be served. Nods to great Halloween movies will be present. It will be dark and elegant, and everyone will be required to dress in spooky costumes or black tie. (No sexy firefighters, superheroes, or the like allowed here, hah.) There will be printed invitations and menus; and don’t even get me started on the playlist for said party. I would share it with you… but I just can’t. :) Obviously, songs from The Nightmare Before Christmas and Beetlejuice soundtracks will be featured though — along with some other less obvious choices.

I could rattle on about this forever. Here’s to hoping it actually gets to happen one day! Let me know if you want to be on the invite list. 😉 In the meantime, I’ll just have to keep archiving Halloween inspiration photos to spur my party-planning imagination for when the time comes. (I’ve been trying to convince Kyle to do a Halloween themed shoot for years, but he has yet to jump on board with the idea. Here’s to hoping for next year on that as well…)

Photo courtesy of my candy corn playtime at work during last year’s Halloween season. (Go buy your bags of candy, people!)

– Erica

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Growing Up on Fish & Chips

I can’t think of a time when I didn’t love fish & chips. I have very early memories of sitting in our kitchen as my mom would serve me and my brother a big plate full of batter fried fish and golden french fried potatoes. I would be the first to go to the pantry and get the malted vinegar to add that extra bit of tangy flavor. Did I grow up in London? Nope. Is my family heritage English? Um, mostly German, so that’s a “no.” Did we live down the road from a Long John Silver’s? Yep.

That’s right, my introduction to fish & chips came via franchised fast food with a drive thru. We loved it. It was a treat, and we always asked for extra crispies…you know, the little fried batter crunchy morsels you’d fight your older brother for. Sadly, my boys haven’t had this experience…fish & chips from Long John Silver’s…not one close to where we live. We do however have a neat Irish Pub nearby and whenever I eat there, fish & chips is my order…and they do not disappoint. They are done very well and the memories from my childhood help to make a positive dining experience. That sounds so formal, but you get the idea. It’s a pub. The food is good. The memories are good.

So, how does any of this relate to food photography? Well, we’ve been doing a project here in the studio that we call “& Food”. You know, Peaches AND Cream, Milk AND Honey, Fish AND chips…the list goes on. We teamed up with Nashville based food stylist Teresa Blackburn to do Fish & Chips. Some of the images we captured are below. I should ask Teresa what fish & chips memory she has. Could she have been as fortunate as me to grow up near a Long John Silver’s? We’ll have to do some probing into her past to learn more.

– Kyle


Fish & Chips

Fish & Chips

Fish & Chips

Fish & Chips

Food Photography by Kyle Dreier  |  Food Styling by Teresa Blackburn

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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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