Jimmy Nelson Photography

Born in Kent in 1967, Jimmy Nelson started working as a photographer in 1987. Just after having left boarding school, he set off across Tibet in a one-year trip by foot. Through his photographic diary, he offered the public an insight into a hitherto inaccessible country. Afterwards he was commissioned with the photographical documentation of numerous cultural issues around the world, finally followed by the 30-month project entitled “Literary Portraits of China”, in 1994. Initially being shown in the Peoples Republic on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the images were subsequently exhibited on a worldwide tour. Besides his successful engagement as a professional commercial photographer, Nelson also focused on the ethnological aspect of his photographic work. Due to the compelling international reaction, the unique photographs taken during 13 journeys in over 40 countries with a 50-year-old plate camera finally led to his monumental project “Before They Pass Away”. It serves both as a monument to honor the last indigenous people as well as a memorial for the public to become aware of the indigenous peoples’ threatened existence. Jimmy Nelson is enthusiastically pursuing his project, but is not driven by the intention to document reality. He does not see himself as a scientist, who is only concerned about facts. He is a romantic, an idealist, and an aesthete: it is the interaction and combination of all those perspectives that generate his iconographical and stylistically fascinating work. The photographs were published by teNeues in the book of the same title, that has just been rewarded with the “Goldener Deutsche Fotobuchpreis 2014”

Hunters, Altantsogts province, Mongolia: Only 400 members of the Kazakh tribe still hunt with golden eagles on the Mongolian steppes. The birds are given to the tribe members at puberty. This image cost Nelson the skin off his hand when it froze to his bulky plate camera in the sub-zero conditions

The Samburu people live in northern Kenya

Hul i Wigmen, Tari Valley, Papua New Guinea: The Huli are here in their Sunday best of brightly painted faces, wearing feathers from birds of paradise. Nelson lost his hair at 16 so was quick to spot the irony of shooting ‘a remote tribe who shave their heads and collect the hair to fashion elaborate head-dresses’

XI 252D Hilao Moyizo Village, Omo Valley Ethiopia, 2011 Peoples & Place - JIMMY NELSONHilao Moyizo Village, Omo Valley, Ethiopia, 2011

Mysterious Hartmann Valley, Namibia, December 2011

Maasai Warrior, Ngorongoro, Serengeti , Tanzania: The Maasai are one of the ‘last great warrior cultures’, says Jimmy Nelson, but are increasingly found in cities, selling modern goods such as mobile phones, alongside goats and cows

Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the ‘isolation forged by their remoteness’

Maasai boy, Tanzania: This young boy has painted his face with a mixture of butterfat and red pigment to show the ‘merits’ he has gained in the warrior culture

Jimmy Nelson, Brigade 2, Siberia, March 2011

Jimmy Nelson, Karo children in Korcho Village, Ethiopia, July 2011

Jimmy Nelson, Matutjavi Tjavara Epupa Falls, Namibia, December 2011

Jimmy Nelson, Dassanech Girls, Ethiopia, July 2011

Jimmy Nelson, Huka Falls, New Zealand, January 2011

Maori woman, Taupo Village, North Island, New Zealand: One ray of hope in Nelson’s project are New Zealand’s Maori tribes, which, he says, are ‘seeing a re-emergence and celebration of culture’ after centuries of decline


Check out Nelson’s fascinating TED Talk


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s