I also worked as an outdoor climbing and mountaineering teacher and spent a lot of time climbing in Yosemite. I had many mentors, and learned how important a good climbing partner is. Trust is key and it’s very important to climb with someone you like, respect and get along with.
The first photograph I sold was shot using a friend's camera. He was a professional photographer, I picked up his camera when we were climbing in Yosemite and I took one photo. He sold that photo and gave me the money, I used it to buy my first camera. I never wanted to become famous, I just wanted to explore the world and take photos. It wasn’t a choice for me, I had to do it. It was all I could think about and it was what I loved doing.
I’ve always taken my training as an athlete as seriously as my shooting. Being able to climb and ski with some of the top adventure athletes in the world is probably one of the hardest parts of my job. I don’t think there is a big secret to being a good photographer in difficult terrain. You have to be able to keep up with your subjects and position yourself for the shot. It’s also helpful to be an athlete so you can anticipate what the athletes are thinking, what they are going to do, what’s too dangerous, etc.
Photography satisfies so many creative instincts that it's hard not to be motivated to do it all the time. It's not just framing an image and pressing the shutter button—it’s also the process of traveling to a location, putting together the shoot, building trust with people and subjects, waiting for the perfect light, and capturing an unexpected or decisive moment.
You have to work really hard, put a lot of time in, and be very focused. Thatʼs hard to do unless youʼre passionate about it. Harness the creativity and the passion of it… Thereʼs so much creativity and passion and motivation out there. Find inspiration through mentors and donʼt be afraid to go after what you want. The biggest thing is not being afraid, having the courage to do what you want to do.
Canon Explorer of Light - Jimmy Chin
Jimmy Chin discusses his career and passion for photography in our series of videos introducing our Canon Explorers of Light.
For more information on Jimmy, please visit his Explorers of Light bio page.