Every photographer has a story behind their work and Jimmy Nelson‘s is a good one. He grew up in Nigeria where his father worked for Shell. During his teen years, he lived in England and attended a boarding school. While visiting his parents in Africa, he became sick with Malaria and was treated with the wrong medicine – one that made all his hair fall out!
He was ridiculed by his peers for his appearance. Two year later and now 18, he decided to move to a place where hairless scalps were socially acceptable. So, Jimmy relocated to Tibet and took his passion for photography with him. He made his bread and butter shooting editorial work and then eventually moved on to commercial photography. He suffered a blow to his career five years ago when the industry changed and digital photography was favored over film. His friends/colleagues urged him to go back to his roots…thus the creation of the breathtaking series “Before They Pass Away“.
The photographs are Jimmy’s effort at documenting some of the last Indigenous tribes that survive today. The purpose is to preserve a historical record for future generations.
The series which has produced a book, was a three-and-a-half year journey for Jimmy. He would spend up to two weeks with the tribes, and in total documented 35 different cultures.
If you’d like to purchase Jimmy’s book click here.