Jimmy 'jugging' up the Pacific Ocean Wall, Yosemite. Photo courtesy of Jimmy Chin.
Professional adventure photographer Jimmy Chin has been to the summit of Mt. Everest twice (he skied down after his second successful climb to the top). His keen eye and attention to detail have won him numerous awards for photography including The National Geographic Emerging Explorers Grant and the Galen Rowell Memorial Photography Award. Jimmy is also a world-class mountain climber and skier, and it is the physical interaction with the landscape that draws Jimmy to photograph it.
Jimmy is away A LOT. In the last month, Jimmy was filming down in a remote part of Chile. He flew back to Jackson to give a presentation to investment bankers, then flew to Minneapolis to give a presentation at a North Face store grand opening, then flew to NYC for a fashion shoot, and then finally returned home to try and catch up on work and expense reports. That’s when I caught up with Jimmy and I am really psyched that he could spare the time for this interview:
Adventure Nomad: I've heard you've made the switch to digital. What sort of equipment are you using now? Any favorite lenses?
Jimmy Chin: Yes, mostly digital right now. Nikon D300. Nikkor 18-200mm, 12-24mm.
AN: How do you carry your photography gear into the wilderness or on climbs?
JC: I carry it in a basic Lowe Pro AW bag. Nothing special.
AN: You've got a great eye for exposure, especially on difficult areas like snow. How do you meter?
JC: On camera Matrix metering works just fine. I occasionally use the spot meter or center weight meter for slightly trickier lighting situations, but I don't do anything complicated. Keep it simple so you can focus on the compositions and creativity.
AN: When shooting climbing or action, do you do anything different or change your technique?
JC: I just make sure I am shooting at higher speeds for action.
AN: Do you do your own photo editing? What programs are you using?
JC: I have an office manager, but I generally do my own initial edits. We use Lightroom and Bridge.
AN: What's a typical day like in the life of Jimmy Chin?
JC: I guess we could use today as an example (although it is atypical since I get so few days at home):
Wake up. Check the snow report and avalanche report to see how much snow we got and what avalanche conditions are like. Call a friend and set a time to meet up. Pound out a few emails. Eat breakfast. Run out the door, meet up with friend and climb Taylor Peak and ski back down it. Come home and catch up on emails and calls to clients. Prep presentation for two lectures I have to give this week - the first for North Face's all company meeting; the second for National Geographic at UC Santa Cruz. Pack bags for lecture trip and a month long surfing trip to Mexico, plus another climbing trip and photo shoot to Yosemite. I won't get to come home between now and the climbing trip, so I have to pack all the climbing gear, photography gear, clothing for urban settings, boat and beach, as well as big wall situations. That's a lot of gear to remember! Go out for dinner with friends. Come home and do more packing. Read. Fall asleep.
Thanks Jimmy, have a great time in Mexico!