Essay about Shelby Lee Adams

1465 Words May 27th, 2015 6 Pages

Shelby Lee Adams is a well-known and credibly acclaimed American photographer, who has both advocates and critics. He is particularly focused on capturing the Appalachian lifestyle, in areas such as Kentucky, because he wants to give a glimpse of the impoverished lifestyle of his subjects. While it is interesting to see the disparity between our culture and theirs, it’s also shocking to realize that people live like this every day. Although he denies it, Adams’ photographs are frequently seen as exploitive because they create a distorted image of society for his own personal gain. The photographs’ dismal qualities seem to display a lifestyle where the people look distraught amidst a culture of despair. Despite the controversial
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The True Meaning Of Pictures further shows Shelby’s bond when he expresses concern after one of his good friends, the head pastor at the church, is bitten by the snake. Shelby visited the hospital regularly to make sure he was getting better.
For the most part, it appears that the many subjects of Shelby Lee Adams’ Appalachian projects have a favorable opinion of Adams and the photographs. In his documentary, it was apparent that the Appalachian subjects enjoyed the portraits that he takes of them. The majority of the locals interviewed pointed out a fondness for Lee because they think his portraits are an accurate interpretation of their life and family. Berthie, the oldest member of the Napier family of Appalachia, is photographed by Shelby Lee Adams and her voice is heard in the documentary. She really seems to get along with Shelby and feels comfortable talking about her daily activities and arduous past-times as a “holler dweller”. In Shelby Lee’s blog, Shelby points out the book he made for the Napier family and the fondness Berthie had for it. She goes on to say that she would keep the book for as long as she lived, tucked under the foot of her bead, “so the boys won’t get e’m and go on sell e’m.”(Shelby Lee Adams) Other locals look upon his photos with such admiration, such as the open funeral casket portrait, because they can recall the memories of a family member and the

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