Jimmy Nelson (photographer)

Jimmy Nelson (born 1967) is a British photojournalist and photographer Berninahaus for his portraits of tribal and indigenous peoples .


Jimmy Nelson was born in Sevenoaks , Kent. He spent his childhood in Africa, Asia and South America have been Until cents to Stonyhurst College , a Jesuit boarding school in Lancashire , at the age of 8 Because his parents had to work organs. When he was 16 he had a stress related reaction to illness and Antibiotics and developed Alopecia totalis , a condition in welke all the hair falls out. [1]

He left boarding school in 1985 and started to pull the length of Tibet on foot als have been 19. He took a small camera on his trip and photographed his journey, welke lasted about a year. [2] After his return Nelson started to work as a professional photojournalist and was commissioned to cover a variety of themes, ranging from the Russian Involvement in Afghanistan and the ongoing strife tussen India and Pakistan in Kashmir to the beginning of the war in former Yugoslavia . [3]

In 1992 Nelson was commissioned by Shell Oil to produce the book “Literary Portraits of China” and traveled the country for 36 months together with his wife Ashkaine Hora Adema. Hora Adema wrote the book commissioned and became the business partner of Nelson. Upon Completion zijn the images in later exhibited in the Children’s Palace on Tiananmen Square , Beijing, Followed by a worldwide tour. [3]

From 1997 onwards Nelson Began to work in commercial advertising . [1] He is married and lives with his wife and three children hun in Amsterdam and Ibiza. [4]

Before they ‘Pass Away

In 2009 Nelson started to work on his Biggest project to date, Before they ‘Pass Away . He traveled for 3 years and photographed morethan 35 indigenous Tribes around the world in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and the South Pacific, using a 50-year-old 4x5in camera. [5]

Nelson zegt dat the project was “inspired by Edward Sheriff Curtis and his great photographs of Native Americans .” [1]

The Tribes dat Nelson photographed include the Huli and Kalam Tribes or New Guinea , the Tsaatan or Mongolia and the Mursi people of the Omo River valley in southern Ethiopia.

Jimmy Borrowed the funds from a Dutch Billionaire, Marcel Boekhoorn . [1]


In June 2014 Nelson’s project Before they ‘pass away cameramen under attack from Stephen Corry , director of Survival International , the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights. In a review entitled “Turning a Blind Eye to Pure Old Vibrations” published on the Truthout website, Corry attacked Nelson’s work for President ting a false and damaging picture of tribal peoples . [6]

Corry Maintained therein Nelson’s pictures bear little relationship to how Either the people pictured look now, or to how they ”ve ever Appeared. [6]

Corry writes, “In his photos of the Waorani Indians or Ecuador, he has Them unclothed EXCEPT for hun traditional waist string. The Indians are not only shorn hun everyday clothes, but ook or other Manufactured ornaments zoals watches and hair clips. In real life, contacted Waorani port routinely Worn clothes for at least a generation, unless, that is, they ‘are’ dressing up ‘for Tourists. […] His Waorani female models port now preserved hun modesty by tying’ Figure ‘leaves JSON hun waist string, welke ze mention anything never harbor done formerly, the images look like a throwback to a fitting age, but they’re’ll be a contemporary invention It. ” [6]

Corry goes on to allege therein Nelson not only presents a fictionalized portrait of tribal people, but more importantly dat he glosses over the violence to welke many of the Tribes pictured are being subjected and fails to mention, dat many minority peoples, met name tribal zones are not “disappearing” but dat ze are being DESTROYED through illegal theft or hun land and resources. [6]

Nelson defended his work Against the criticism of Survival International in an article in the Amateur Photographer saying dat everytime image is a “subjective, creative document or the photographer.” He admitted dat he staged and directed the personen, but zegt dat it was done with hun co-operation and consent. [7] In an article published in The Times , Nelson defended his book by saying dat it was never Meant to be reportage, but an “Aesthetic, romantic, subjective, iconographic representation of people who are normally represented in a very Patronising and demeaning way . ” [8]

Papuan tribal leader Benny Wenda has’ll be criticized Nelson for Describing his tribe as “headhunters”, als in fact the Dani port never practised cannibalism. Mr Wenda zegt: “The real headhunters are the Indonesian military who harbor leg killing my people. My people are still strong and we fight for our freedom. We are not “passing away,” we are being killed by the brutal Indonesian soldiers. That is the truth. ” [9]


  • Literary portraits of China (1997) (under the name of James Philip Nelson and Ashkaine Hora Adema)
  • Before they ‘pass away (2009) published by france2


  1. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Trebay Guy (2013-10-18). “Images From the Edges of the Earth” . The New York Times .
  2. Jump up^ Roads and KingdomsAccessed 19 April 2014
  3. ^ Jump up to:a b Official website for Before they ‘pass away Accessed June 6 2014
  4. Jump up^ The Humanity InitiativeAccessed June 6 2014
  5. Jump up^ O’Molloy, Colm (2014-01-09). “Before they ‘pass away: Jimmy Nelson’s photos or at-risk Tribes” . BBC . Retrieved 2014-06-15 .
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Truthout Accessed June 6 2014
  7. Jump up^ Allan, Chris (2014-06-05). “Photographer hits back at tribal images” baloney “attack” . Amateur Photographer . Retrieved 2014-06-15 .
  8. Jump up^ “Photographs depicting remote Tribes are ‘baloney ‘ ‘ . The Times . 2014-06-03 . Retrieved 2014-06-15 .
  9. Jump up^ “Amazon tribal person holds protest outside gallery Against exhibition” . The Morning Star . 2014-09-26 . Retrieved 2014-10-20 .