Shelby Lee Adams (born 1950) is an American environmental portrait photographer and artist best known for his images of Appalachian family life.
Adams’ has photographed Appalachian families since the mid-1970s. He had first encountered the poor families of the Appalachian mountains as a child, traveling around the area with his uncle, who was a doctor. His work has been published in three monographs: Appalachian Portraits (1993), Appalachian Legacy (1998), and Appalachian Lives (2003).
His work is in the following permanent collections (not a complete list): Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; International Center of Photography, New York, New York; Musee De L’Elysee Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York; The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Time Life Collection, Rockefeller Center, New York, New York; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York.
Adams was the subject of a documentary film by Jennifer Baichwal in 2002 – The True Meaning Of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams’s Appalachia, which was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival, and at the Sundance Festival in 2003.