AMFI hosted IFFTI, the annual conference of leading fashion schools worldwide. The 2017 theme was ‘Breaking the rules’ and AMFI students reported on the events. Branding student Sarah Friedman was blessed to visit the opening talk of Day 3 by British photojournalist and photographer Jimmy Nelson, known for his portraits of tribal and indigenous peoples.
Despite the fact that Jimmy Nelson is the first speaker of the day, meaning an early morning for most of us, he moves across the floor full of energy to talk about his experiences. He starts off vividly setting the scene of South Sudan. He illustrates the feeling of the warm air on his skin, the smell in the air, the nature that surrounds him and all these small descriptive details take us back to the day that Jimmy feared for his life. The day that 20 child soldiers surrounded him and his colleagues. He describes the moment he drops to his knees as a cry for mercy. Abruptly he stops his story during the most thrilling moment to put his life in context. Throughout his talk Nelson incorporates such unexpected moments making his audience laugh and managing to captivate them.
One might wonder how he communicates with the tribes he encounters. By making the audience participate, he portrays the complicated dance of communicating with his new friends. Such a complicated dance can take weeks, earning their trust. Nelson believes these people should be icons and should be put on a pedestal.
“It is not journalism, so much photography, anthropology, anthology, fashion or necessarily sustainability. It is a very deep passion, an urge, these people should be seen. We have to discuss their importance.” This is why Nelson decided to bundle his work and portray these fascinating people in the book Before they pass away offering these tribes a pedestal.
After traveling visually with us across the world, Nelson concludes with a happy end to his Sudan experience. As he leaves the floor, his audience is as energized as he is. What a fascinating journey of an excellent storyteller!
Article by Sarah Friedman. Photos by Joris van Egmond and Sarah Friedman.