"Time spent with people making pictures together, let’s them reckon' their pictures out for themselves."
For years I go back to photograph the same folks again and again, giving them the previous year's images and photographing anew. Sometimes the very first session produces the most exciting images. I continue to visit and revisit photographing. We get to know each other, becoming familiar, sharing our lives. With some, I'm surprised when I get a good picture the first visit and with others it can take several photo sessions over years.
- "Above all else Adams wants his images to reflect within the creative moment a mutual empathy and participation between himself and his subjects. But in order for such opportunities to flourish and be repeatable in photograph after photograph the full range of human emotions, prejudices, memories, and forgiveness have to be available to the process and allowed as part of it, which Adams describes as “our mutual transcendence” within both the Appalachians and himself."
- —James Enyeart
- Published in Salt & Truth, 2011
Published in Appalachian Lives, 2003
Lloyd Dean with Brother Lewis, 2008
Lloyd Dean with grandson's holding promo brochure for salt and truth, June 2011.
[Adam, in middle is holding herbs from root digging.]
What's important to remember is that while
barriers have been used to divide us, as
humans we are all the same. Some are more
privileged than others, but with that privilege
comes a responsibility to do more.
Shelby and Dan
Photographer, Charlotte Ostervang
Published in Appalachian Portraits, 1993
Where you come from
When you come from the head of the holler and leave for whatever purpose, you eventually gravitate back to your starting place, to observe and participate, finding a more all encompassing perspective, moving forward; from what some deny. That world may be inhabited by the shunned, neglected or even arrogant; that rumble with contradictions and self deceptions, but that is your home, where your true voice and your found vision lie. Your experiences develop into your recognition of these people, the ignored who cry, lament, love and beg you to say - I exist, even when they deny you.
Shelby Lee Adams
We need an unprejudiced mind to see what-is; we cannot see what-is and respond to it if the mind is trying to change or suppress it. We resist what-is because we are afraid of the unknown, or because what-is contradicts what we have been conditioned to believe, or because it threatens us. The resulting fear prevents us from accepting what-is. Resistance to what-is may look like strength, but actually arises from fear, whereas it is powerful and freeing to accept what-is.
Surrender means allowing life to happen rather than opposing the flow of life, accepting the present moment without resistance. The necessary action will then arise, but when we act out of acceptance rather than resistance, we act without negativity or judgment. Action that arises out of acceptance is different from action that arises out of rage and hatred. Action that arises from a state of surrender is less contaminated with judgment and the need to hurt others. We simply do what needs to be done without labeling the situation as good or bad according to the ego’s criteria.
Psyche and Sacred
4x5 Film Version.
4x5 Polaroid studies made with Brenda before exposing film.
Polaroids damaged by rain.
Peggy and Albert, 1999
Photo made with Peggy and Albert when in 2003 their photo was published
in Appalachian Lives and they had just received their copy.
Published as cover, Appalachian Portraits, 1993.
Published in "Appalachian Lives," 2003.
Lloyd Dean with Family and Coal Truck, 2002
Lloyd Dean with Grandson's and pool table, 2006
Nikki and Bobbie Joe, 2001
Published in Appalachian Lives, 2003
Corrine and Baby, 1983
Published in Appalachian Portraits, 1993.
Photo of Shelby and John together made in 2007 at John's home, Busy, Ky.
Kate, 103 Year's Old, 1986
“The Stories get past on and the truth gets passed over. As the sayin goes. Which I reckon some would take as meanin that the truth cant compete. But I don’t believe that. I think that when the lies are told and forgotten the truth will be there yet. It don’t move about from place to place and it dont change from time to time. You cant corrupt it any more than you can salt salt. You cant corrupt it because that’s what it is. It’s the thing you’re talking about. I’ve heard it compared to the rock-maybe in the bible-and I wouldn’t disagree with that. But it’ll be here even when the rock is gone.”
“You were doin something for folks that couldnt do it for theirselves.”
“I think the truth is always simple. It has pretty much got to be. It needs to be simple enough for a child to understand. Otherwise it’d be too late. By the time you figured it out it would be too late.”
No Country For Old Men
© Shelby Lee Adams, 2010-2022
All photographs and text copyrighted - © 1999-2022 Shelby Lee Adams, legal action will be taken to represent the photographer, the work taken out of context, subjects and integrity of all photographic and written works, including additional photographers published and authors quoted. Permissions - send e mail request with project descriptions.