The Miao people, China 2005.
As a young boy, Jimmy Nelson lived with his father, a geologist and explorer, in developing countries around the world. Now 51, he speaks of those years as the most uncultivated of his life—a time when he hung from trees and ran naked with his friends. But when he turned seven, he was sent to a Catholic boarding school in England, where he studied for the next ten years. For a free-ranging kid, the difference between those two worlds was jarring, and Nelson describes his work photographing tribal communities as a search for that lost wild self. His first book, Before They Pass Away (2013), sparked global conversation: the tribal-rights organization Survival International was a loud critic, arguing that it presented an exoticized depiction of indigenous groups. Nelson’s new book, Homage to Humanity, shot on six continents in the years since, responds to that criticism with a digital app showing his behind-the-scenes work on the 600 photos. “People are not used to seeing these tribes in such a glorified way,” Nelson says. “These pictures are not fake. They’re just another truth—a dignified, respectful, invested truth.”