Shelby Poor was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1991. She was the youngest of three children and grew up in a working class family in Tulsa. She was labeled as an orphan by the state at fourteen, lived with relatives for a matter of months before she managed to be kicked out, was living on various couches belonging to friends at sixteen, sent to drug rehabilitation at seventeen, graduated high school at eighteen and was finally accepted to college at nineteen. She studied fine art and photography at the University of Tulsa and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2016. After being accepted to the California Institute of the Arts, Shelby moved to Los Angeles, California. She is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in photography and will graduate in May of 2018. She works predominantly in the social documentary genre and places an emphasis on dismantling traditional conventions.