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Photographer Jim McGuire’s “The Nashville Portraits” exhibit debuts in Leu Art Gallery

You can’t stop time, but they say if you take a picture it will last longer.

That’s what music photographer Jim McGuire did with “The Nashville Portraits,” an exhibit of historic portraits of country music stars that are on display at Belmont’s Leu Art Gallery.

McGuire started “The Nashville Portraits” collection by accident when he asked musicians to take a black and white photograph after their recording session. Luckily, few artists said no. His collection included photographs of country legends such as George Strait, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Waylon Jennings.

“All the people I got to shoot were the people whose music I loved. That was the attraction,” said McGuire.

Though he had been a fan of bluegrass music since he was young, he actually started his career as a weatherman in Oklahoma City, which led him to setting up weather stations in Vietnam during the war.

When the demand grew for photographers at war, he decided to pick up the camera.

Once he returned to the U.S., he decided to study photography at a technical school in New York, which landed him a $65-a-week job as an assistant for fashion photographer John Foote that lasted for three years.

His experience in fashion introduced him to the thrill of the entertainment world, and soon he began working with recording studios shooting album covers, creating over 400 covers in his career.

McGuire recently retired from the music business but has continued to share his work with Nashville.

“It’s just great to see these portraits being viewed and passed down to another generation.” he said.

Through the use of simple lighting techniques, McGuire captured some of the most influential faces of country music in their purest forms for over 45 years, earning the admiration from Belmont.

“The true entertainment icons entrusted Jim McGuire to capture their image and preserve how they will be remembered for many generations to come,” said Doug Howard, dean of the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business.

“It speaks, no, it shouts to the quality of the man.”

McGuire’s gallery is open for viewing at Belmont from Sept. 16 to Dec. 6. 

This article written by Ellie Burr and Chloe Eberhardt. Photos by Chloe Eberhardt.

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