October 26, 2020

“Homage to Humanity” – Photographer Captures Stunning Photos Of Isolated Tribes Around The World

In 2013, the British photographer Jimmy Nelson published his first monograph, a 400-page photo book titled “Before They Pass Away.” His subjects were shot in some of the world’s most remote wildernesses, showing us, in monumental fashion, the lives and cultures of some of the world’s most isolated and ancient indigenous communities.

In 2018, Nelson published his second major project titled “Homage to Humanity.” He visited 34 isolated tribes in five continents, revisiting some from his previous journey. While his first book was a collection of pictures, this time the photographer decided to expand and added travel journals, maps, local facts, and personal interviews, shifting the focus of his story from the objects he captures to the journey itself.

“When I was 17, I started a journey, and it’s still the journey that I’m on today,” Nelson said. “It’s about reconnecting and finding myself. I’ve dressed it and disguised it with photography and tribes and indigenous cultures, but ultimately it’s a very personal journey of wanting to feel and survive and be alive.”

In his work, Jimmy explores the idea of reconnecting to our roots and our humanity, and he believes that indigenous people play an important role in our perception of ourselves as human beings. That’s why he’s inviting everyone to join the global discussion on cultural identity. The more you know about the world around you, the easier it is to accept and appreciate it. In a couple of weeks, Jimmy Nelson is planning to release a movie featuring 1500 photographs, “all stitched together into one amazing journey across the cradle of human culture.”

More info: jimmynelson.com

1. Hakamou’i, Ua Pou, Marguesas Islands, French Polynesia

Jimmy Nelson

“The motivation is very simple,” photographer Jimmy Nelson told Popular Photography. “It is to iconize fragile and remote, disappearing cultures and tribes, and put them on a pedestal. And to look at them in a way that we look at ourselves and we regard ourselves as being important.”

2.  Yang Shuo Cormorants, China

Jimmy Nelson

His book sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide. Prints were sold for many tens of thousands of dollars. His exhibitions made headlines the world over, with reactions spanning from the laudatory to the appalled.
In an essay in the American magazine Truthout, Stephen Corry, a British indigenous rights activist and director of Survival International (an advocacy group for tribal peoples), wrote that Nelson’s “claim that (‘Before They Pass Away’ is) the ‘irreplaceable ethnographic record of a fast disappearing world’ is wrong — from pretty much every angle … (They are) just a photographer’s fantasy, bearing little relationship either to how these people appear now, or how they’ve ever appeared.”

3. Samburu Tribe, Kenya

Jimmy Nelson

Nixiwaka Yawanawá, an affiliate of Survival International from the Yawanawá tribe in Brazil, held a protest outside the exhibition at London’s Atlas Gallery. Davi Kopenawa, a spokesman for Brazil’s Yanomami tribe, told the organization: “This man only wants to force his own ideas on the photo … He does whatever he wants with indigenous peoples.”
Nelson also received criticism from fellow photographers. Timothy Allen, a veteran photographer for the BBC’s Human Planet, said, “The patronizing and self-aggrandizing narrative behind ‘Before They Pass Away’ is literally painful to watch.”

4. Mask Dancers, Paro, Bhutan

Jimmy Nelson

Nelson travelled for his project to the farthest and most impassable corners of the world, and he took both digital Nikons and a (partly) self-built analogue 4×5 camera with a variety of lenses. The argument for a 4×5 inch analogue camera is usually its sharpness and details, but Nelson based his choice mainly on the earthly character of the analogue camera.

“The photos are often not that sharp at all, I had exposure times of a few seconds, and sometimes the film surface was not flat in the corners, so many photos are not sharp. And here and there, photos have been taken unevenly over each other or were badly exposed. All forms of imperfection I found interesting because I am romantic, and analogue photography fits in with that. Also, I never used flash, because that would detract from the atmosphere of romance. And precisely because of the long exposure times, I had to be calm and concentrate fully. The portraits I took inside their homes have been made with reflectors that look more natural. All the people who see my photos are touched by the beauty and will, therefore, delve into the story, which is what I wanted to achieve.”

5. Perak Women, Thikse Monastery, Ladakh, India

Jimmy Nelson

6. Vaioa River, Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia

Jimmy Nelson

7. Khoyor Tolgoi Hill, Altan Tsogts County Bayan Ulgii Provence, Mongolia

Jimmy Nelson

8. Huli Wigmen, Ambua Falls, Tari Valley, Papua New Guinea

Jimmy Nelson

9. Ni Vanuatu Men Rah Lava Island, Torba Province Vanuatu Islands

Jimmy Nelson

10. Tarangire, Rift Escarpment, Tanzania

Jimmy Nelson

11. Ganges, Haridwar, India

Jimmy Nelson

12. Ndoto Mountain Range, Kenya

Jimmy Nelson

13. Angge Village, Upper Mustang Nepal

Jimmy Nelson

14. Te Aroha Mikaka & Sky Bay Of Islands, Haruru Falls, North Island, New Zealand

Jimmy Nelson

15. Likekaipia Tribe Ponowi Village, Jalibu Mountains, Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea

Jimmy Nelson

16. Uramana Clan, Amuioan, Tufi, Papua New Guinea

Jimmy Nelson

17. Miao Village, Liu Pan Shui, Gui Zhou, China

Jimmy Nelson

18. Paro Pass, Bhutan

Jimmy Nelson

19. Mount Bosavi Waterfall, Papua New Guinea

Jimmy Nelson

20. Korcho Village, Omo Valley, Ethiopia

Jimmy Nelson

21. Lake Argentino / Cerro Christal On Horizon Patagonia, Argentina

Jimmy Nelson