Thomas L. Kelly first came to Nepal in 1978 as a USA Peace Corps Volunteer, and has since worked as a photo-activist, documenting the struggles of marginalized people and disappearing cultural traditions all over the world.
Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation he has been recording the lives of sex workers and the traditions of prostitution across South Asia. Thomas has worked extensively for UNICEF, Save the Children Fund (USA), DFID, U.K., Aga Khan Foundation, Institute of Child Health (ICH), U.K., on the subject of child prostitution, trafficking, Safer Motherhood/Saving Newborn Lives, Conflict and Resolution, and numerous other subjects. His editorial work has appeared in publications worldwide, including, the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, National Geographic, and The Observer, U.K. From 1990-1991 he was the Corporate photographer for The Body Shop Int., UK specializing in documenting the Press Campaigns of the Company. He currently represents Hinduism Today magazine, based out of Hawaii.
Apart from photography, he has produced and directed films and videos on prostitution, violence against women, and esoteric ethnic practices, among other subjects for Discovery Communications, USA, National Geographic, and the BBC.
He has researched and photographed the books: Sacred Landscape-Pilgrimage in Tibet: In Search of the Lost Kingdom of Bon; Tibet: Reflections from the Wheel of Life; The Hidden Himalayas; Kathmandu: City on the Edge of the World, Abbeville Press, N.Y., N.Y.; Fallen Angels: Sex Workers of South Asia; The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Roli Books Int. New Delhi, India,); Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World, Viking Penguin, N.Y., N.Y.; and Cultural Traditions on Hinduism-Sadhus, Cuerpos Pintados, Santiago, Chile.
Thomas was the AV Technical Advisor for The Youth Expression Project, YEP, a program in South Asia to help young people (ages 15-23) to identify and voice their concerns about parental and societal values, HIV/AIDS, drug abuse, unwanted pregnancy, and sexual abuse. The project was about aiding them to understand their problems, concerns, hopes, fears, frustrations, and learning how to use media (writing, photography, video) to express those concerns on a public platform. Their media outputs were directed to parents, teachers and the general public.