The essence of the project is to make people aware of how scarce their individuality is. Not to be patronising, but to say this is what you are and to show them they have a value that is precious.
‘The world is changing and we’re not going to stop it, but I hope in my own way, to encourage them not to abandon everything that makes them so individual.’
Five continents, thirty-five tribes. Jimmy Nelson’s “Before they pass away” is that special kind of photography project that makes time stop for me. Going through and daydreaming with the photos have stirred a lot of emotions.
- Joy in celebrating the great diversity of the world
- Pride in my uniqueness
- Sadness for the tough times these tribes are going through
- Anxiety of what the future holds for diversity, equality, culture and humanity
- Admiration for the photographer
- Awe, amazement, amusement
Nelson’s work has been internationally acclaimed not only for the adventure they bring but the great eye-opening lessons they bear. With his 50-year old camera plate, he does not only provide great photography service to top companies commercially – he also captures the purity of humanity in the most far-flung places.
“In 2009, I planned to become a guest of 31 secluded and visually unique tribes. I wanted to witness their time-honoured traditions, join in their rituals and discover how the rest of the world is threatening to change their way of life forever. Most importantly, I wanted to create an ambitious aesthetic photographic document that would stand the test of time. A body of work that would be an irreplaceable ethnographic record of a fast disappearing world.
Elegant and evocative portraits created with a 4×5 camera. The detail that is attained by using such large negatives would provide an extraordinary view into the emotional and spiritual lives of the last indigenous peoples of the world. At the same time, it would glorify their varying and unique cultural creativity with their painted faces, scarified bodies, jewellery, extravagant hairstyles and ritual language.”