Quotes from Jimmy Nelson

Jimmy Nelson portrait

Hi! My name is Joost Bastmeijer, a photo journalist currently traveling through Africa. This month, I will being sharing pictures of some (African and Dutch) photographers that caught my eye – here on the Hatje Cantz Fotoblog! This time, I’d like to feature a photographer who I’ve met in Amsterdam: Jimmy Nelson.

For MENDO, I recently interviewed the renowned photographer about his newest photo book, ‘Homage to Humanity’. Here, I’d like to highlight some of the most striking quotes from that interview. If you’d like to read the whole Q&A, you can check it out here on MENDO.nl.

Before they pass away 2 - Samburu by Jimmy Nelson Before they pass away 2 - Mundari South Sudan by Jimmy Nelson Before they pass away 2 - Gerewol Chad by Jimmy Nelson2

“The world is becoming homogenous and digitalized – it’s changing much quicker than it ever has before. And as the people of a certain indigenous group develop with us, which they have all the right of doing, it’s important that they don’t abandon their heritage. In the Western world, we’re not necessarily turning the clock back, but we’re beginning to reach a period in time and evolution to realize that perhaps, we made a few wrong turnings.”

Before they pass away 2 - Goroka Eastern Highlands by Jimmy Nelson2 Before they pass away 2 - Marquesas Islands by Jimmy Nelson2

“There will always be criticism. And the criticism is interesting – it’s good to be kept on your toes, that you are given a counter perspective. A lot of criticism was based on the title of the first book, which was perhaps childishly naive, but at the same time deliberately provocative. It was meant to cause a discussion. The criticism was based on the idea of creating a visual perception of the other. The pictures in the two books are beautifully uncomfortable. My work is a mirror of who we are and who we could be. People say that the situations “can’t be this beautiful”, that the pictures are staged and fake. But it’s a hundred percent real.”

Before they pass away 2 - Mundari South Sudan by Jimmy Nelson2 Before they pass away 2 - French Polynesia by Jimmy Nelson2 Before they pass away 2 - XXXIII-1-Uramana-clan-Amuioan-Tufi-Papua-New-Guinea“My work is not documentary photography – I’m not flown in by a helicopter, spraying pictures with a 100 millimeter lens from a hut. I go and spend weeks on the locations I’m visiting. In that period, I spend 95% of my time sitting, watching, and explaining what I’m doing. At some moment in time, the people I’ve asked to photograph come to me. When they’re ready, to be perceived as they want to be seen. And then they can be as beautiful as someone on the cover of TIME Magazine.”

Read the whole interview here. You can follow Jimmy Nelson on Instagram.

Before they pass away 2

Also see Joost Bastmeijer’s blog or follow him on Facebook or Instagram.