Photograph courtesy Jimmy Chin Library
Photograph courtesy Jimmy Chin Library
Few photographers will attempt Pakistan's precipitous K7 or ski from the summit of Everest just to frame a shot. So when world-renowned mountaineer Ed Viesturs pushes for the summit of his final 8,000-meter peak, or when alpinist Conrad Anker plans to put up a new route in the Himalaya, they call the same photographer and filmmaker: Jimmy Chin.
Arguably one of the most sought after expedition photographers working today, Chin, a Minnesota native, is himself a professional climber, skier, and ten-year veteran of the North Face Athlete Team. Chin's passion for exploration, photography, and filmmaking has taken him on breakthrough expeditions around the planet. He has worked with the best adventurers, climbers, and skiers in the world on their most challenging expeditions, climbs, and ski descents. Chin is known for shouldering the camera equipment and documenting their epic stories no matter what it takes; at times, this has meant enduring death-defying situations next to some of the best athletes in the industry.
Some of his projects include trekking unsupported across 300 miles of the largely unexplored 17,000-foot-high Chang Tang Plateau in Tibet while filming for National Geographic, documenting first ascents of the tallest freestanding sandstone towers in the world in Mali, and putting up new routes on highly technical ascents in the Himalaya. In 2003, Chin accompanied Stephen Koch to the north face of Everest on his quest to snowboard the Seven Summits. Chin hit Everest again in 2004, climbing to the summit with Ed Viesturs and David Breashears while shooting production stills and video for Universal Films. Viesturs called upon Chin again to accompany and photograph him on his final and successful expedition to Annapurna, Viesturs's last summit in his quest to climb all 14 8,000-meter peaks. In 2006, Chin climbed and skied from the summit of Everest while shooting Kit DesLauriers's historic ski descent of the mountain. This fall, Chin and his team made the first ascent of the Shark's Fin on Mount Meru, one of the most attempted and coveted lines in the entire Himalaya.
The list of epic journeys goes on. In the last ten years, the Victor, Idaho-based Chin has been on assignment six to eight months a year for National Geographic, The North Face, Outside, and Rolex—just to name a few of his editorial and commercial clients.
On top of Chin's work as a photographer, he is also a director and cinematographer and owns his own production company, Camp 4 Collective. Chin's films have received awards from numerous film festivals, including Mountainfilm in Telluride, Kendal Film Festival, and Boulder Adventure Film Festival. His work routinely shows up on Vimeo's Staff Picks page.
Chin has been profiled in numerous publications including National Geographic, Outside, People, and Men's Journal. He's received the Rowell Art of Adventure Award for his philanthropic work and excellence in adventure photography, as well as the Lowell Travel Award for excellence in photojournalism. The National Geographic Society has awarded Chin three expedition grants and named him an inaugural emerging explorer. Chin's most recent photo assignment on Yosemite was featured as the cover story of National Geographic's May 2011 issue. The online photo gallery from this assignment is now in the top ten most viewed online galleries in National Geographic's history.
Chin hopes that the images and films from his expeditions will help him reach a greater goal. "It's about sharing stories that inspire people, highlight the infinite human spirit, and open people's eyes to a different world," Chin explains. "Creating films and photographs through situations that few others could experience is my life's inspiration."
Jimmy's Blog Posts
- The Renaissance Adventurer: Hanging with Will Gadd in Alberta, Canada
- 20/15 - The Asymbol Vision
- Anatomy of a Photoshoot: The DigiTech
- When Dogs Fly - An Essay by Dean Potter
- Lighting with LitePanels
- Anatomy of a Shoot: Snow Leopards in Nepal
- A Year Through the Lens - 2014
- Anatomy of a Shoot: The Squarespace Spot
- The GoPro Hero4 Quick + Dirty
- Exposed: Behind the Shot of the Arch of Bishekele
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What are Jimmy Chin and the rest of the National Geographic Explorers up to? Meet the E-Team and learn about their projects in this interactive mural.
Visit Chin's website and learn more about his work.
In Their Words
I know photography can be a powerful tool, and appreciation of our natural world is a good place to start to get people thinking about the environment.
Jimmy Chin reveals a new generation of daredevil climbers scaling the park's sheer rock faces.
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