Dutch-English artist Jimmy Nelson (Sevenoaks, 1967) has worked for the last thirty years as a photographer and is the initiator of the Jimmy Nelson Foundation. At the age of 16, he was accidentally prescribed the wrong medication and suffered from Alopecia totalis, which is total hair loss. At the Jesuit boarding school, he attended his subsequent baldness was mistaken as a sign of awkward rebellion and thus he felt socially isolated. As a result Jimmy unconsciously initiated his quest to find a place where he felt comfortable in the world. At the age of 18, his choice was Tibet, where according to his own naive and romantic research, all young men were bald and where he felt he could find empathy. This was the catalyst for his unending search for human connection.
With this inevitable search for self, he discovered the world’s most eclectic variety of peoples with their own cultures, aesthetics and languages. He decided to visually dignify the people he met on his way. His work is characterized by its romantic, iconic, and celebratory style, which has been initially bundled in his first book Before They Pass Away of which over 200.000 copies were sold. This success, also caused by an element of controversy, was the catalyst for his lifelong mission; to pay homage to indigenous cultures as a message for greater humanity.
In January 2016 he started traveling with the wish to create a body of work in which the observer gets taken on the journey. By gathering interviews, stories, film and 360 material next to his visual documentation, the start of an immersive experience was born. In September 2018 Homage to Humanity was launched, accompanied by a Webby Award-winning app, which allows the reader to unlock digital layers of the book. By scanning the images, film material will be revealed whereby Jimmy takes the viewer on a personal journey of human connection and the importance thereof. All of the chapters feature a 360 film, giving the reader a fully immersive experience behind the scenes, by using the cardboard glasses included with the book.