Born in Hazard, Kentucky, Shelby Lee Adams has devoted 30 years of his life to visiting and making portraits of families living in backwoods Appalachia. Shelby's photographs confront the viewer with representations of reality that do not avoid difficult subject matter as he continues to pursue his personal, expressive view of the human condition.
An active photographer since the late seventies, his work is included in many permanent collections including The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian Institution: National Gallery of Art Library, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and The National Gallery of Canada. He has received photography fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts on two occasions.
Adams' Appalachian photographs have been documented in three books: Appalachian Legacy, Appalachian Portraits and Appalachian Lives.