Category: Artist and sculptor
James "Jimmy" Philip Nelson (born 1967) known professionally as Jimmy Nelson, is an English photographer and public speaker who also has Dutch citizenship. He spoke at TEDxAmsterdam, for example in 2014. He is especially known for his portraits of tribal and indigenous peoples.
So all of us will see the bigger picture and stand united in our diversity, to meet the enormous challenges we face as humankind in the decade to come.
The Jimmy Nelson Foundation
The Jimmy Nelson Foundation is a nonprofit organisation founded in 2016 to stimulate cultural expression by facilitating projects that promote the heritage of indigenous cultures.
The Foundation's most prominent project involved a collaboration with J. Walter Thompson India and J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam. The campaign opened with a short film, titled Blink. And they’re gone., made using more than 1,500 photographs taken by Nelson during his travels. The film took 90 days to edit, and includes images of the Huli Wigmen from Papua New Guinea, the Kazakhs of Mongolia, the Sadhus of India, the Wodaabe from Chad and a number of other cultures.
Reactions to his work
Nelson has not been without his critics, but on close examination most of them appear to be those who, in the name of globalisation, wish to end diversity and ‘civilise’ people who have been persuaded that having their land exploited by powerful faceless multinationals in exchange for a job, money and a hovel in the city [along with the loss of their lands] is ‘progress’.
Stephen Corry, director of Survival International , for example whose movement is intended to be a ‘global movement for tribal peoples’ rights’ has attacked Nelson's work for presenting a ‘false and damaging picture of tribal peoples’ He has alleged that glossing over the violence to which many of the tribes pictured are being subjected, and failing to mention that many minority peoples, especially tribal ones, are not "disappearing", but that they are being destroyed through illegal theft of their land and resources, is unproductive.
But this rather shows that Corry [who is patently failing in his objective], does not understand the value of presenting beauty in order that we want to save it. Unless we see what might be lost, it is highly unlikely we will help to save it, as such Nelson’s approach is in the end probably more productive than Corry’s .
Jimmy Nelson - BBC interview
The pictures are definitely arranged. People don't naturally stand under a waterfall at 7 am waiting for the sun to rise, unless you ask them to. I’m presenting these people in a way that hasn't been done before. We present ourselves in the developed world in a very idealised, stylised way because we believe we are important. I’ve given them the time, the respect that we would give ourselves...
Nelson spent his childhood in Africa, Asia and South America, traveling around with his father, who worked as a geologist for International Shell. At the age of 7, he was sent to Stonyhurst College, a strict Jesuit boarding school in Lancashire, UK. When he was 16, he suffered from Alopecia caused by a culmination of stress and a reaction to malaria medication . The combination of his early experiences as a child and the effect of boarding school resulted in him
In 1985, at age 17, he left his boarding school and started to trek the length of Tibet on foot. He took a small camera on his trip and photographed his journey, his collection of photos were published by National Geographic, to ‘wide international acclaim’.
He has visited Afghanistan, Kashmir, Yugoslavia, Somalia, El Salvador, and China amongst many places and has produced a number of photographic books including his, by now well known, book “Vanishing tribes before they pass away”.
We have used a small number of Jimmy’s photos on the site and have also used a few on our youtube videos.
Jimmy’s website is https://www.jimmynelson.com/. His website describes his books, his projects, the people he has photographed and his aims and objectives in documenting the people he photographs. It also describes any upcoming exhibitions and events he has planned.
Articles about Jimmy and his projects have been published in over a 1000 newspapers and magazines, you can read all articles here - https://www.jimmynelson.com/press .
His books include
Publications and films
- Literary Portraits of China. with contributions by Ashkaine Hora Adema, Nigel Cameron, How Man Wong. Odyssey. ISBN 9622174051
- Before They Pass Away. teNeues. ISBN 9783832733186
- Homage To Humanity. Donna Karan (Foreword), Mundiya Kepanga (Foreword). Rizzoli International Publications. ISBN 978-0847862146
- Before they pass away: Jimmy Nelson at TEDxAmsterdam - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPPxBpTP5hE