« Motor Sports & Diversity in C-ville Weekly | Main | All Night Jazz Jam at Fellini's for the George Melvin Educational Fund »

22 July 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

That was a great post!!!

Now, let me ask a question:

I am driving from Boston to Austin in a few weeks with my son who will be attending grad school at the University of Texas (Structural Engineering) and I am planning to document the trip and my one week stay in Austin but this won't really make me a Southern photographer, will it? :)

Peace be with you.

Bruce, thanks very much for the comments. Glad you liked the post.

> but this won't really make me a Southern
> photographer, will it? :)

Well, you'll certainly be a photographer in the South, which makes you eligible to submit to SXSE. That's enough for me.

"It seems to me that Shelby Lee Adams' new and unpublished work is alone worth the price of admission. This isn't the Adams that you might expect. While the setting is still his familiar Appalachian hollows, and his hillbilly stereotypes haven't completely disappeared, the new work, as John points out, "expands on his earlier themes" and offers a more complex view of this world."

I merely wish to point out for the record that in my first book, “Appalachian Portraits,” published in 1993, I never considered any of those photographs as hillbilly stereotypes and still do not nor any photographs I have ever made. To say such now is to misinform your readers and future audience, intentional or not.

Thank You,

Shelby Lee Adams

I live in North Carolina, i.e. the South. (I used to live in New Jersey, i.e the Northeast.)

I'm a photographer.

Ipso facto I'm a Southern photographer.

I have no problem having them linked. But that's me...

Hello, Shelby.

I have to admit that your work has troubled me since I first saw it 15 or 20 years ago. It has seemed to me that many -- not all -- of your photos reinforce widely held stereotypes about the poverty and ignorance of Appalachian people, rather than challenging them.

Now, I understood that the people that I saw in the photos were quite real, and so were their surroundings. In addition, I never doubted that you knew your subjects well enough to know that they were far from being "hillbilly" stereotypes.

Yet what I saw in the frame were too often stereotypes. And I didn't see anything that offered a broader, more nuanced, and more complex view of Appalachia.

Several of the images in the SXSE portfolio -- I'm thinking in particular of those that connect the hollows to the wider world and those which show a measure of material comfort -- have prompted me to revisit your body of work and to think again about its meaning. I can't say that I've come to any firm conclusions, but the process has begun.

(That's my view. Fortunately, a good deal of your work can readily be seen on the web, as well as in print. Readers can make up their own minds.)


Mr. Adams, I have looked at so many photographs from many photographers and I have found few that have drawn me into the photo, made questions come to mind, and caused me to study many different aspects of the photo the way yours have. I am thankful to the SXSE Magazine for introducing me to your work and I look forward to your book that is coming out.

Thanks for this post, John. It was thought provoking and informative. Because I wear my "anti-anti-essentialist" badge quite proudly, I throw in as many "the South" and "the Black South" statements as possible...though when there's editorial complaints, I'm always sure to preface my southern fried essentialism with an "imagined." It works every time.

Once again, nice piece. Enjoy what's left of the summer. Claudrena

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Follow Me On Twitter