Renowned Photographer Jimmy Chin Shares His Tips For Adventure Photography
Capturing magnificent photographs of an adventure can be just as challenging, if not more challenging at times, than embarking on the adventure itself.
While the craft takes immense dedication and hard work, having the right advice and tips can help budding photographers get started on their path.
Travel + Leisure spoke to photographer, filmmaker, and mountain sports athlete Jimmy Chin, whose award-winning photographs have appeared on a variety of noted covers, to discover his tricks of the trade.
His first piece of advice? Don’t try to shoot everything.
“A lot of people try to shoot everything, and I found that the most successful photographers focus on something very specific, like a subject or area of activity that they’re really passionate about and have a connection to,” Chin told T+L.
“When you shoot one thing — for me it was climbing — you really push yourself because you’re shooting the same thing and looking at a lot of the same type of photography over and over, so you have a bar that is set and you then focus on how you want to shoot the same subject and put your visual language around it,” he added.
He recommends looking at images of interest and asking yourself why it interests you and what you like about it.
“Ask yourself these questions and answer them, because it makes your eye much more intentional the next time you look through a lens.” Chin also recommends looking at images and imagining what it took for the photographer to capture the image, as thinking about this process can later help with your own shooting.
While Chin finds narrowing down on a particular subject is good, he does not recommend photographers get too focused on plans of what they'd like to capture before a shoot. Instead, Chin finds that most of the fun comes in the spontaneous moments that force a photographer to work through challenges and problems that can arise during a shoot.
One of the ways Chin recommends to do this is to stick around during a shoot, as some of the best shots can come when you least expect them.
"You never know when something is going to happen…you could be shooting portraits of a subject sitting and then the moment after they loosen up and it's over is when you might get something more interesting,” Chin said.
He also said the same of landscape photography, finding that while most people will shoot the sunset, some of the most incredible light can come after the sunset during dusk.
In addition, consider angles you wouldn't think of. "Looking behind you can be really beautiful because if you're not seeing the shot in front of you, it could be right behind you," Chin said.
When it comes to scouting locations, Chin prefers destinations without large crowds, which is why he recommends taking the time to research locations that aren't as easy to get to and are off the beaten path.
“It’s about the process of exploring different places and having an adventure to get out there to shoot,” Chin said, with some of his favorite locations so far having been Antarctica and the Himalayas. “The vastness of it combined with the cold makes it feel like another planet,” Chin said of Antarctica’s scenery.
Asking yourself where a location is that you would not normally think to go to can be a good starting point for finding locations of interest.
Finally, when it comes to equipment, Chin advises to put away and organize all of your equipment directly after a shoot, as the time before shoots can often be rushed and thus materials can get left behind.
Those interested in learning more of Chin’s techniques can check out his new online course with MasterClass, which brings together a variety of online courses from noted practitioners around the world. The course, which is $90 for lifetime access, covers topics that range from location scouting and gear advice to editing and more.