Everyone is starting to realize our secret, which is move to Nashville right now.  Well, that’s just a resident’s opinion, but it is true that the population has been exploding in the last few years. Whether it’s from that tv show that you may have heard of, the growing artist industry or business in general, this is definitely a hub for new people.

I moved here 3 years ago in search of a bigger place, but couldn’t quite stomach LA or New York right out of college.  I found everything I had ever been looking for, and a lot of valuable lessons learned that will stay with me no matter where else I end up. This week is my 3 year anniversary of moving here as I prepare to head to Florida with my fiance, and was inspired to write a sappy love letter to Music City.  

Here are the 6 things I learned while living in Nashville:


Rae Marshall Photography

1. A place might be nothing like its stereotype

Broadway street, Country Music Singers twanging at all hours in bars, That broken dirty Elvis Statue- these are the things that come travelers minds when they think of Music City.  And those things are all here!  On one street.

The rest of Nashville wouldn’t be caught dead in a cowboy hat, and if you are wearing one… we’ll know you aren’t from around here.  The locals can be found shopping down the 12 South strip donning plaid shirts and skinny jeans, or outside by the pool at new hot spot Pinewood Social.  It’s a rich culture that sounds a lot more like indie tunes and underground coffee shops than the typical southern drawl that would a shame to overlook next time you visit.


Rae Marshall Photography

2. Artist communities can be supportive

– You don’t have to be an asshole.  WHAT?!  While elitists LA and New York will tear you apart, and artists in your genre will generally go out of their way to hide information from you, Nashville still has the southern kindness in their artist communities that will make you realize it’s okay to help people out and be helped. 

As a photographer moving to Nashville, I discovered a large group of amazing photographers here that I know by name, have gone to social events with, borrowed equipment from, and generally learned a whole lot from, and I know the music artist culture is similar as well.  The community has taught me that my client will hire me because of what I do, and theirs for what they do, so why be so distant with each other?


3. No matter how hard you work, you have to be talented

– On the other side of the coin, sweetness in the industry won’t make you famous.  It doesn’t matter how determined you are to become the next Taylor Swift.  You could work on your music for decades for all I care, but if you don’t have the look, personality, marketing and business skills, AND a great voice, you’re probably not going to be a famous music artist. 

There are some things you just can’t teach someone. Celebrities are usually electric people who got there for a reason, and it’s not just because a big company pumped a lot of money into them.  There has to be a lot more for them to stay at the top.  There’s a lot of competition out there, especially in Nashville.  Don’t quit your day job quite yet.


accessories in Sisters of Nature by Rae Marshall Photography

4. There is Value in Quality

  – This isn’t only Nashville specific of course, but it is one thing I picked up from Nashville culture.  I used to be content buying my clothes on the sale rack at any teen department store, but it turns out it won’t last as long, and I sure don’t look as good.  Nashville is a culture of taste.  We like that craft beer, good food, and high quality boots.

Imogene and Willie is a great store name that comes to mind and embodies the Nashville clothing culture, as well as the legendary Peter Nappi italian leather brand.  I also really like just walking around the Green Hills Mall (makes me feel like I have money). As I get older I’ve just gained an interest in investing in unique and beautiful things.  Buy less, just better.


5. Local restaurants and coffee shops are a gift

– Speaking of Quality, I moved from a city in Alabama that had mostly chain restaurants, to a place teeming with local food choices, and it. was. awesome.  When your friends have to decide where to go out to eat, it’s a big debacle to pick a place, because there are just so many good restaurants here.  I still haven’t been to half after 3 years, even though I’ve sure tried because I loooove going out to eat.  And I haven’t even touched on the extensive local coffee culture here.

-A small few highlights include Burger Up and Josephine in 12 South, PM and Chagos in Belmont, Barista Parlor coffee shop in East Nashville, or if you really want to go all out, The Catbird Seat.


Rae Marshall Photography

6. I’m proud to be from the south.

The past few years I’ve traveled more than I ever have before, including Los Angeles, New York and even parts of Italy.  These places are incredible, there is no doubt.  But there is nothing like the charm of the South.  Nashville truly is  the best of many worlds, a successful business town with events every weekend, but you can still drive out 30 minutes to Nolensville and go antique shopping in the country.  Chicken and mashed potatoes are my comfort food, and what football team you root for will always be a big freaking deal.

We locals can joke about how we can’t stand country music and we don’t dare venture downtown, but I will take every visitor out and show off Broadway street at least one night with love, and when Wagon Wheel comes on at my wedding, you can bet that the entire room will be singing proud. 


Rae Marshall Photography

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