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See Kelsea Ballerini, Brett Eldredge, More Pose for Innovative Exhibit

Renowned photographer Joseph Llanes tells stories behind photos in his “20 Out of 20” project, also featuring Jake Owen, Maren Morris & Nikki Lane, among other big Nashville names

Kelsea Ballerini, Kelsea Ballerini photos

Kelsea Ballerini poses for the "20 Out of 20" exhibit.

Joseph Llanes

Joseph Llanes was living in Los Angeles, photographing the likes of Coldplay, Rihanna and Foo Fighters, and building quite the rock & roll portfolio, when he was bitten by the Nashville bug. Brett Eldredge hired him to shoot the cover of his debut album, opening country music doors that just kept getting wider. Album covers for Lady Antebellum (Golden), Luke Bryan (Crash My Party), Lee Brice (I Don't Dance), Ashley Monroe (The Blade), Cole Swindell (You Should Be Here) and Jake Owen (American Love) followed — in addition to countless photo shoots with stars including Blake Shelton and Faith Hill. Llanes was coming to Nashville so often that he eventually moved his family to Music City and opened his own Greyland Studio (named after sons Greyson, 3, and Landon, 1). That's where you'll find his "20 Out of 20" exhibit, premiering exclusively on Rolling Stone Country. Llanes photographed 20 country stars in 20 days, with most shoots lasting less than five minutes. "I've come to a city where I instantly had a community," says the photographer. "Everyone is so accepting and warm. Having this be the first thing I do in my new studio is so exciting and a chance to develop as a photographer, as an artist. Nashville gave me that chance." Below, in his own words, Llanes shares personal stories behind all 20 photos in the project.

ryan fols

Joseph Llanes

Ryan Follese

Ryan was our last artist of the 20, so I was really in the mood to play. What happened in this photo shoot was all just happy accidents. It was all a big experiment, and he was game for it. It was fun seeing it all happen live. He is really warm, really eager to try new things, up for letting me experiment and really playful. 

kane brown

Joseph Llanes

Kane Brown

I just shot something with Kane a month ago, but when he came in to do this he didn't realize it was a photo shoot! So that jacket he has on is my jacket. He was playing with his hat; I'm glad I caught him fidgeting because he has this naturally cool demeanor, even when he fidgets. He's one of the nicest new artists I've ever worked with.

kelsea ballerini

Joseph Llanes

Kelsea Ballerini

We did the most production with Kelsea. She blew out our AC because we had so many lights going on! So we shot most of that stuff in a very humid, hot room, but you couldn't tell because she's such a pro. She's one of my favorite artists to work with, I adore her and am so proud of her. I got to hear some amazing new songs she has coming out. It's gorgeous, it's fun, it's the natural progression for her music. She came from a writing session straight to the studio.

kip moore

Joseph Llanes

Kip Moore

Kip came in and saw about half these photographs hanging on a wall in our studio. So he understood this wasn't a publicity shot, this was something more artistic. So he played along and gave me a lot of great stuff. I was so excited to have him in the studio, because he's not really someone you'd expect to do an art exhibit. It was really nice of him to take the time to come work with us. With him, we tried a bunch of different colored lights, and he was up for us making it as fun and interesting as we could make it.

Haley Georgia

Joseph Llanes

Haley Georgia

I never know what to expect when I work with Haley. She came in wearing a tutu, which was great because I photograph so many guys and I needed a feminine, fun vibe. She's the whole thing, and I believe her. Whatever you say about her music, I believe her. She has this great personality, and it comes across in her photographs.

cadillac three

Joseph Llanes

The Cadillac Three

There's a bar across the street from our studio where we hung out with the Cadillac Three guys before doing the photo shoot. They could care less about production or anything, they just care about vibe. If you can capture that vibe, it is the most rewarding thing. They are 100 percent unique. There's not any pretension with them.

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