Robert Adams was born in New Jersey and moved to Colorado as a teenager. Adams was a professor of English literature for several years before turning his full attention to photography in the mid 1970s. His work is largely concerned with moments of regional transition: the suburbanisation of Denver, a changing Los Angeles of the 1970s and 1980s and the clear-cutting in Oregon in the 1990s. His many books include The New West, From the Missouri West, Summer Nights, Los Angeles Spring, To Make It Home, Listening to the River, West From the Columbia, What We Bought, Notes for Friends, California, Summer Nights: Walking, Gone?, What Can We Believe Where? and The Place We Live. Adams has also written a number of critical essays on the art of photography, including Beauty in Photography, Why People Photograph and, most recently, Along Some Rivers. Among many awards Adams has received the Guggenheim Fellowship (1973), the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1994) and the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize (2006). In 2009, he was awarded the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography.
In 2010, Yale University Art Gallery organised an international touring retrospective that highlighted Adams’ four decades of work. The tour began in Vancouver, British Columbia and travelled to the Denver Art Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Yale University Art Gallery, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Josef Albers Museum Quadrat, Bottrop, Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris and the National Media Museum, Bradford.