In 2009, following years photographing some of the most socially significant moments of our time, including the Russian involvement in Afghanistan, the ongoing strife between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, and the outbreak of war in former Yugoslavia, British photographer Jimmy Nelson embarked on his next mission: a journey to remote sections of the world to document the lives of 31 secluded and distinct tribes. During his three-year voyage, Nelson made 13 journeys to 44 countries, including Ethiopia, New Zealand, Nepal, and Vanuatu, all with a traditional 4×5 plate camera in tow. Thanks to the camera’s large negatives, Nelson was able to capture more detail in each frame—detail he hoped would provide a view into the emotional and spiritual lives of some of the last indigenous peoples of the world.
Now, the results have been captured in Before They Pass Away XXL Edition, published by teNeues Publishing Group. Produced in a limited run of 500 signed and numbered copies, Nelson’s ethnographic record contains over 500 photographs that span 464 pages. The cover, offset printed on cloth, is adhered to wood panels and encased in a cloth clamshell case upholstered with velvet. Accompanying each copy is a custom book holder, as well as three autographed prints of tribesmen on Ilford Fibre Silk Gold art paper.
Nelson maintains that the mission was about capturing the purity of humanity. “I didn’t start this project anticipating that I could stop the world from changing. I purely wanted to create a visual document that reminds us and generations to come of how beautiful the human world once was.”
The XXL Edition package is available through teNeues.