Jimmy Nelson – The Master of Portraits

This article is about one of my favourite photographers and his works – Jimmy Nelson.

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In the year, 1967, Jimmy Nelson was born in England. It is a fact that his parents have been working abroad. So he started studying in a boarding school. When he was 18 he started he started a solo trekking the entire stretch of Tibet by foot (which took almost a year). Obviously he had a camera with him. When he came back from the trek, most of the pictures(given below) from Tibet were published in many international magazines.

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Soon after he started receiving photo-journalistic assignments. In the year of 1997, he started undertaking commercial advertising projects.

But only in 2009, he started a personal big project for a duration of three years – “Before they pass away”. In this, he covered 35 indigenous tribes across the world.

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Jimmy Nelson has taken some amazing portraits in the entire project some of which are given below.

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We will be seeing one such photograph from this project to check what makes the photograph unique. In general, we look for harmonial balance in a photograph. The below photograph is one of my favorite portrait from his portfolio/ personal project, “Before they pass away”. This photograph is taken in Ethiopia, in a tribe called Dassanech, Omo valley.

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Let’s look at the photograph. What makes this photograph a harmonious photograph to me?

Look at the eyes, they look like 2 identical quadrilaterals.

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The nose looks like an isosceles triangle.

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The lips look like a rhombus.

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The whole face looks like an inverted triangle.

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The ear drops also falls in a quadrilateral family.

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Taking the image as a whole, all this brings a brilliant harmony to this portrait.

I wonder how far Jimmy Nelson had to go to find this perfect face for this portrait photograph. Apart from this, I am curious to know about the background colour. It aligns with the skin tone. And then the ear drops. Was it offered to make this photograph perfect or it was natural for the person to wear these kind of ear drops?

Thank you Jimmy for this wonderful photograph. Hope this blog has shed some light in composing better portrait photographs.

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Disclaimer 1: The copyrights of the above Photographs remains with the photographer Jimmy Nelson or whomsoever he has transferred it to.

Disclaimer 2: The deconstruction of the above Photographs are purely from the author’s perspective.

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