There is something uniquely beautiful and
sacred about British photographer Jimmy Nelson’s book, ‘Before They Pass Away‘.
carried his 4×5 plate field camera to 44 countries around the world – from
Papua New Guinea to Mongolia, from Ethiopia to Siberia – to capture and
document 31 remote cultures that may soon disappear. The portrait images are
exquisitely elegant and haunting, evoking the emotional and spiritual essence
of these faraway cultures and sometimes hidden societies.
Beyond the beauty of this visual
anthropology lies the piercing awareness that these guardians of ancient living
cultures who have lived in harmony with nature for so long, are in real danger.
Their natural habitats are being destroyed, their lifestyles and traditions
with it. The message of this masterpiece is clear: the
world must never forget the way things were.
As well as being a record of a fast disappearing
world, the book is a testimony to the value of natural simplicity – a concept
that we are losing sight of in today’s 24/7 hyper-connected world. Nelson gives
us a taste of ‘the purity of humanity’.
Whether in the jungle, on an ice field, along rivers or by mountains, the
images show humans in tune and complete balance with their surroundings. And in
tune with each other as a community, achieving that sense of perfect harmony
that we all dream of. As Nelson says on his website, “There is pure beauty in their goals and family ties, their beliefs in
god and nature and their will to do the right thing in order to be taken care
of when their time comes.”
There is much we can learn from these last
resorts of natural authenticity – very real lessons about love, respect, peace,
survival and sharing.
book is a catalyst for change, a museum of knowledge. Not one filled with masks
and spears and feathers, but a place of learning.” –
Here is a selection of images that have
moved us. You can find all the images and more information about this poignant
project at http://www.beforethey.com/
By Kim Kalinowski
Images: Photo © Jimmy Nelson Pictures BV, beforethey.com