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News & Insight

‘Before They Pass Away’ – Photo Series Documenting Rarely Seen Indigenous Tribes

By Hanssie on October 28th 2013

Before-they-pass-away-10In an effort to document some of the lasts indigenous tribes in existence for the purposes of preserving a historical record for future generations, British photographer, Jimmy Nelson, has traveled to numerous countries such as Ethiopia, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Ecuador, India, and New Zealand.

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Using a 50-year-old, 4×5 camera, Jimmy’s three year project, “Before They Pass Away,” has documented over 30 isolated tribes, showing us their rich culture and traditions that will someday be obsolete in the face of a rapidly changing world.

 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.

Before-they-pass-away-14The poignant photos are published in a beautiful, coffee table book and there are talks to create a TV series based on his adventures. Take a look at some of the rarely seen people groups from around the world:


Before-they-pass-away-3 Before-they-pass-away-1 Before-they-pass-away-5 Before-they-pass-away-12 Before-they-pass-away-2 Before-they-pass-away-9 Before-they-pass-away-7 Before-they-pass-away-6 Before-they-pass-away-13 Before-they-pass-away-8 Before-they-pass-away-11

Below is the first cut of one of the episodes where Jimmy travels to the Vanuatu Islands.

CREDITS : Photographs by Jimmy Nelson have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

[Via @Design Taxi/Daily Mail]

How important do you think it is to capture a way of life that is almost untouched by modern conveniences? What can we learn from the beauty and simplicity of these tribes? Feel free to comment below.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Thanks for sharing

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