His images document the lives of people from indigenous tribes in countries including Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Namibia, Nepal and Ethoipia, as well as many others.
In total, he has photographed 35 of the world’s last indigenous tribes “as art – as icons”, as he puts it. The images have a measured, serene, portrait style – an elegance that puts the traditions and often fearsome forces of nature these people contend with through a Westernised, detached lens.
However, there’s also an intimacy to the images. It’s clear that Nelson forges an empathy with the tribespeople and their lifestyles, looking to capture them in a wider context of how modern mankind has created a gulf between itself and nature.
“What am I trying to say? Look closer. In the developed world we’re very comfortable with our prejudices and our judgements, look closer as you never know what’s round the corner.”
He adds, “We have to wake up. We have to start documenting these cultures very quickly because they are going to disappear, and as soon as they disappear, we will lose something which is very important to us.
“It is our authenticity. It’s where we came from. It’s our origins.”
Before They Pass Away runs from 25 September – 16 November at Atlas Gallery, 49 Dorset Street, London W1U 7NF