Shelby Lee Adams

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Adams in 2010

Shelby Lee Adams (born October 24, 1950)[1] is an American environmental portrait photographer and artist best known for his images of Appalachian family life.

Life and career[edit]

Adams has photographed Appalachian families since the mid-1970s.[2] He had first encountered the poor families of the Appalachian mountains as a child, travelling around the area with his uncle, who was a doctor.[3] His work has been published in three monographs: Appalachian Portraits (1993), Appalachian Legacy (1998), and Appalachian Lives (2003).

The True Meaning of Pictures[edit]

Adams was the subject of a documentary film by Jennifer Baichwal in 2002 - The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams's Appalachia. This was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival, and at the Sundance Festival in 2003.[4][5] The film critiques and defends Adams' method in photographing Appalachian people for his previously published books.


Books by Adams[edit]

  • Appalachian Portraits. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993. ISBN 0-87805-646-7; ISBN 0-87805-667-X.
  • Appalachian Legacy: Photographs. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998. ISBN 1-57806-048-6; ISBN 1-57806-049-4.
  • Appalachian Lives. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2003. ISBN 1-57806-540-2.
  • Salt and Truth. Richmond, Va.: Candela, 2011. ISBN 0-9845739-1-7.

Permanent collections[edit]


  1. ^ Mark, Rebecca & Vaughan, Robert (2004) The South, Greenwood Press, ISBN 978-0-313-32734-6, p. 60-61
  2. ^ Foerstner, Abigail (1994) "Appalachia observed: Shelby Lee Adams exhibit features portraits out of a living past", Chicago Tribune, September 25, 1994, p. 18
  3. ^ "Vanishing Tribe", Mother Jones, September–October 1991, p. 52-55, retrieved 2010-10-18
  4. ^ Goddard, Peter (2002) "Photographer spies on the human drama: Shelby Lee Adams's Appalachian photographs capture undercurrent of pain", Toronto Star, August 31, 2002, p. H12.
  5. ^ Harvey, Dennis (2003) "The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams' Appalachia", Variety, February 2, 3003, retrieved 2010-10-18
  6. ^ "The Home Funeral, 1990", catalogue entry, Art Institute of Chicago. Accessed 3 August 2011.
  7. ^ a b c "Shelby Lee Adams", Museum of Contemporary Photography. Accessed 3 August 2011.
  8. ^ a b c d e Shelby Lee Adams Archived 2012-03-28 at the Wayback Machine., International Center of Photography. Accessed 3 August 2011.
  9. ^ "The collection", Musée de l'Élysée. Accessed 3 August 2011.
  10. ^ Catalogue search for "Shelby Lee Adams" Archived 2012-03-23 at the Wayback Machine., Harvard Art Museums. Accessed 3 August 2011.
  11. ^ "Works by Shelby Lee Adams", San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Accessed 3 August 2011.
  12. ^ Results of a search of the collection, 3 August 2011.
  13. ^ "Berthie Napier with Pipe and John", catalogue entry, Victoria and Albert Museum. Accessed 3 August 2011.
  14. ^

External links[edit]