JustinDocumentaryphotography

Pioneers of photography

Shelby Lee Adams

 Born in Hazard, Kentucky in 1950.  Shelby Lee Adams has devoted his career to the documenting of Appalachian communities.  Author of three photography books, “Appalachian Portraits” 1993, “Appalachian Legacy” 1998, and “Appalachian Lives” 2003.  Shelby Lee Adams also worked on a feature length documentary named “The True Meaning of Pictures” which addresses the issues of representation in documentary photography, using his work as a key reference.  The work of Lee Adams is a beautiful representation of communities that are abandoned by society either by choice or otherwise.  In his portraits he captures a true representation of a group of people living a life suited for them, and their families; which seems to be a keen interest in his work.  Although to most his work is an important documentary project, his work with the Appalachian has received quite controversial slander.  Critics argue that Adams exploits the “poverty and disempowerment” in the Appalachia and reproduces “negative stereotypes” but I believe these stereotypes were that of modern day society and not created by the work of such a dedicated photographer who clearly has a close relation with the communities that he photographs.

Photographs used

Leddies and Children, 1990

The Hog Killing, Spring 1990

Brother’s Praying, 1993

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