Before They Pass Away by Jimmy Nelson

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The purity of humanity exists. It is there in the mountains, the ice fields, the jungle, along the rivers and in the valleys. Jimmy Nelson found the last tribesmen and observed them. He smiled and drank their mysterious brews before taking out his camera. He shared what real people share: vibrations, invisible but palpable. He adjusted his antenna to the same frequency as theirs. As trust grew, a shared understanding of the mission developed: the world must never forget the way things were.

There is a pure beauty in their goals and family ties, their belief in gods and nature, and their will to do the right thing in order to be taken care of when their time comes. Whether in Papua New Guinea or in Kazakhstan, in Ethiopia or in Siberia, tribes are the last resorts of natural authenticity.


‘’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.”

In his landmark project Before They Pass Away Jimmy Nelson captures the lives and traditions of the last surviving tribes who have managed to preserve their traditional ways and customs within our increasingly globalized world. The British photographer’s epic portraits present these dignified inheritors of noble and age-old traditions in a proud spirit and in all their glory—a unique visual experience. This exquisitely photographed showcase for world tribal culture is not only a joy to look at, but also an important historical record. This book reveals the wide variety of human experiences and cultural expressions across the ages— and we’re delighted to have it among our fall offerings.

This historic volume showcases tribal cultures around the world. With globalization, these societies are to be prized for their distinctive lifestyles, art and traditions. They live in close harmony with nature, now a rarity in our modern era. Jimmy Nelson not only presents us with stunning images of customs and artifacts, but also offers insightful portraits of people who are the guardians of a culture that they—and we—hope will be passed on to future generations in all its glory. Nelson’s large-plate field camera captures every intricate detail and fi ne nuance for posterity. What’s more, this splendid pageantry is set against a vivid backdrop of some of the world’s most pristine landscapes.

THE BOOK – Trade Edition

€ 128 / £ 100 / $150
ISBN: 978-3-8327-9759-1
Format: 29 x 37 cm


500 exclusive and numbered copies of this XXL book, offered in a sumptuous clamshell box, showcased on a custom-made transparent book holder and containing three autographed art prints.