Shelby Lee Adams is an environmental portrait photographer and artist most widely known for his photographs of Appalachian families. He first began photographing Appalachian families in the 1970’s. He first encountered poor families of the Appalachians as a child growing up in Hazard Kentucky and traveling around the Appalachian mountains with his uncle who was a doctor at the time. His work has been published in three monographs: Appalachian Portraits (1993), Appalachian Legacy (1998), and Appalachian Lives (2003), Salt and Truth (2011). Jennifer Baichwal also did a documentary on Adams titled The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams’s Appalachia (2002) which documented his process of photographing Appalachian families, the publishing of the book, and critical responses of the people and families that where featured in the book.
Adams is currently on exhibition with Paul Paletti Gallery, Louisville, KY. Title : Salt & Truth. Opening : March 1, 2012 closing : May 31, 2012. He also has private collections at: Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; International Center of Photography, New York; Musée de l’Élysée, Lausanne; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa;l San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Time Life Collection, Rockefeller Center, New York; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and was awarded the 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship