Jimmy Nelson was born in Sevenoaks, Kent. He spent his childhood living in Africa, Asia and South America. At the age of eight he was sent to Stonyhurst College in Lancashire. At the age of sixteen he was diagnosed with Alopecia Totalis: the condition with the symptom of major visible hair loss from all over the body. At nineteen he left his boarding school for a journey on foot throughout Tibet. He took a small camera with him for documentation. Upon his return Nelson started a carreer in photograpy as a professional photojournalist. In 1992 Nelson was commissioned to produce the book Literary Portraits of China, for which he traveled through the mentioned country for a period of three years. In 1997 Nelson started working in the advertising industry. Today Nelson is married and lives with his wife and three children in Amsterdam and Ibiza.